Explore Australia on the Great Victorian Bike Ride

Travelers looking for a unique and unusual way to explore Australia should look no further than the Great Victorian Bike Ride, an annual cycling event that offers a healthy dose of the legendary Aussie hospitality with an active, adventurous holiday.

Now in its 27th year, the 2010 GVBR is schedule to take place from November 27 to December 5. This year’s course will highlight some of the best scenery that the Australian state of Victoria has to offer, including gorgeous lakes and rivers, wide open scenic vistas, and stunning mountain ranges. The riders will begin in Yarrawonga and cover more than 599 kilometers (372 miles) before ending in Marysville. On average, they will cover about 70km (43 miles) per day while on the route.

Just because you’ll spend the week on a bike, cycling through the Australian countryside, doesn’t mean you’ll have to skimp on the amenities however. This ride is a full service affair with luggage transportation provide, a licensed cafe at the nightly campsite, and more. In fact, even though you’ll be sleeping in a tent along the way, you’ll still have access to a masseuse, a full featured bike repair facility, and a medical team that will be on hand to take care of those saddle sores.

The Great Victorian Bike Ride is an affordable adventure Down Under to be sure. The cost of the nine day event is just $795 AUD for adults, while kids under 17 and can ride for $595 AUD. Children under 12 are just $295 AUD, and Infants, categorized here as age 5 and under, get to come along for free.

For those who would like to ride, but think this sounds like it might be just a bit too challenging, you might want to consider the Goulburn River Explorer option. This is a shortened version of the GVBR with riders joining the peloton on Day 6 and peddling for just four days rather than the standard nine. This option costs $395 AUD, with discounts being applied for the younger crowd.

Finally, well heeled riders can also elect to take the Gourmet Peddler Ride which takes you out of the tent and puts you into a hotel instead. This package costs $3450 AUD for a 9 night twin share option. For $3950 AUS you can even have your own room.

To register for the Great Victorian Bike Ride click here. Only 5000 riders are accepted however, so if you’re looking to get a true Aussie experience with true Aussies themselves, you may want to sign up soon. As a further incentive, you can get a $100 AUD discount if you sign up before the end of July.

[Photo Credit: Bicycle Victoria]

Stay at The Blackstone and explore Chicago by bike

We’ve been talking a lot about green travel this month. Well, here’s one more way you can do your part to reduce the impact your travels have on the environment. Book a room at The Blackstone in Chicago through October 31, and you’ll be given two Strida bikes to use for the duration of your stay.

Bike Chicago” package prices range from $199 to $269 per night and include overnight accommodations for two, a city map and the use of two bikes. Strida bikes are the world’s lightest collapsible bikes, so you can easily pedal around town and then fold up the bike and carry it with you on the bus or El if you need to travel farther than you’re willing to pedal. And because biking all over Chicago can take a lot out of you, The Blackstone will also provide you with some tasty fuel – a picnic lunch for two from Mercat al la Planxa, a Catalan cuisine restaurant inside the hotel.

The Blackstone is a Marriott property located on Michigan Avenue, near Grant Park. While it’s not the cheapest accommodation you’ll find in the city, the hotel’s restored luxury (it was originally built in in 1910), excellent service, and ideal location make it well worth the price. For the date I checked, the bike package was only $40 more than the basic rate, an amount you could easily spend on cabs over the course of a weekend. So overall, I ‘d say this is a pretty good deal. See Chicago, save some money, and do a little to help save the planet at the same time.

World’s longest bike race gets underway on Sunday

As that little bike race in France comes to an end this weekend on the Champs Elysees, an ocean away, another one will begin, as the inaugural Vuelta Sudamericana gets underway from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The “expedition race”, as it is billed, is 134 days in length, making it the longest stage-race in the world.

The Vuelta is brought to us by the same deviously adventurous minds behind the Tour d’Afrique and the recently launched DreamTours, which lets you build your own cycling adventure. The organizers of the race have years of experience handling these types of events, and they allow the riders to focus on the journey while they take care of all the logistics.

While the race does run 134 days in length, only 110 of those are actual riding stages, with 23 rest days and 1 travel day built into the schedule as well. At the moment, 23 riders from all over the planet are set to embark on the ride, which begins on Sunday and will cover nearly 7500 miles, passing through Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru before ending in Quito, Ecuador four months from now. Along the the route they’ll peddle through steamy jungles, across arid deserts, and over mountain passes, climbing as high as 13,780 feet in the Andes.

The riders won’t be at a loss for interesting scenery either. Along the course they’ll pass by Iguazu Falls, Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in South America, the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth, Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable body of water in the world, and the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. All in all, a fairly great tour of the continent.

Of course, not all of us have four months to go cycling around South America, so the entire ride is also broken down into nine smaller sections allowing cyclists who can’t do the entire distance to join and leave at a variety of points along the way.

To learn more about the Vuelta Sudamericana, check out the official website, where you’ll find updates from the riders starting soon. There is also more info on the route, profiles of the riders, an F.A.Q. and a detailed look at the event. This seems like a great adventure for anyone who is into long distance cycling, and makes the Tour de France seem like a short ride in the countryside.

2009 Tour de France is underway

The 2009 Tour de France got underway yesterday with an individual time trial through the streets of Monaco. The Prologue was a short and fast 15.5km (9.6 miles) sprint that started with a steady climb and ended with the riders screaming back down the hill towards the finish line. At the end of the day, time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara took the stage victory and the famous Yellow Jersey, while the real contenders for the race, such as Alberto Contatdor and American Levi Leipheimer, lurking just off the pace. Lance Armstrong, making his return to the Tour after a 3 year layoff, finished in 10th.

Today, the race heads out onto the road, leaving Monaco behind, with a 187km (116.1 miles) stage through southern France. The route will pass through some rolling hills, but will mostly favor the sprinters who will be competing for the Green Jersey, while the climbers will wait for the seventh stage, when the race moves away from Barcelona and into the Pyrenees, where they’ll begin their competition for the Polka Dot Jersey worn by the King of the Mountains.

Over the next three weeks the top riders in the world will compete in cyclings premiere event. In total, there will be 21 stages, covering more than 3500km (2175 miles). The race culminates on Sunday, July 26 on the Champs Elysees when the leader rides into Paris with the Yellow Jersey.