Fidele Soul Rides – Gold Coast (Australia)

Michael Lister lives in a place called Paradise Point in Queensland, Australia. No doubt hard to leave ‘Paradise’ but when he does, his bike ride of choice takes him on a tour of the Gold Coast. Here’s the Strava link to the ride –

My soul ride takes in the Gold Coast hinterland and our beautiful beaches. I love the crisp clean air and no traffic before heading back to the golden beaches with a view up the coast. My ride starts with the “7 humps”. A series of rolling hills and what’s popularly known as “the wall”…but I ride down the wall so that’s OK.

Lower Beechmont is a popular climb with the locals. It climbs for 10km up to the bus stop. You’ll nearly always find riders sitting having a chat…and contemplating whether to head back down or continue the climb to “the roundabout” (12km) or Binna Burra (23km) with a nice little 1.5km, 15%er at the end.

This is a single day’s ride of 143km if I only go to the bus stop. But I sometimes make it shorter or longer but detouring, at any stage, to explore further or head home. There are many skyscrapers in the distance and plenty of beautiful people in the surf. There are many, many cafés and coffee shops along the coast. Popular with cyclists is Picollo at Miami, Caffene at Lands End. And they are both far enough apart so I can ride off whatever has tempted my taste buds.

Fidele Soul Rides – Great Dividing Range (Australia)

Geoff & Wendy Hastings rode the second stage of the inaugural Strzelecki tour in Australia from Albury to Melbourne. Both have travelled extensively in Australia but Geoff still found a new ‘soul ride’ riding from Traralgon to Warburton which he chronicles below.

Australia doesn’t really do mountains the way that the other continents do them. Not in height at least, with our tallest mountain being only 2,228 metres (7,310 feet) high. But it does do long mountain ranges with the Great Dividing Range stretching down the eastern seaboard for 3,500 km (2,200 miles). The divide attracts higher rainfall than other areas of Australia and is the home of some lush forests.

The southern end of the range attracts a climate that is a combination of high rainfall, warm summers and cool winters. This means that cycling through this area can be the chance to experience a uniquely Australian environment.

The Strzelecki epic from Ride and Seek has taken advantage of this by taking a route that goes right over some of the highest points of the Great Divide ( Mt Hotham) and then into other areas where fantastic mountain roads wind through spectacular eucalypt forests.

Certainly, the day that takes the rider from the town of Traralgon to Warburton on the southern edge of these mountain forests is a day that I would classify as a “soul ride”.

The day I am concentrating on is 130 km in length with about 1800 metres of climbing and it is a day of contrasts. Starting off on Australia’s southern coastal plain the route proceeds on quiet rural back roads. The roads roll along and almost unnoticeably gain altitude until you are in the forests of the Great Divide.

This is where, in my mind, the difference between cycling and other forms of touring really kick in. You move from the farmland quite dramatically into majestic forests with the dominant canopy tree being the tallest flowering plant in the world – the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans). You are enveloped in a world of giants that shelter the understory of lush treey ferns and other Australian natives. Even on hot, windy days it is cool and still down on the road.

There are some wonderful, winding descents with little traffic to cause concern but I would argue you are doing yourself a disservice if you concentrate on the descent and not the environment around you. Winding down through these forests, taking it all in and stopping occasionally to really appreciate the unique flora (and if you are lucky, fauna) is essential. Within the forests, there are small villages that cater brilliantly to Australia’s national addiction to good coffee. Eventually, you reach a rail-trail that takes you right into the town of Warburton under the shadow of mountains covered in temperate rain forest.

The end of the day is one for reflection and celebration in equal measure. Reflection on Australia’s unique beauty and a personal job well done. A local wine, as you are now surrounded by one of our wine-growing areas – the upper Yarra Valley, makes for a perfect way for friends to share stories of an exceptional day.

Geoff & Wendy Hastings

Fidele Soul Rides – Skyline Drive (USA)

Our fideli Jim Cox tells us why he considers the Skyline Drive (and the Blue Ridge Parkway) to be a soul ride for him.

Did you know there is a great cycling road that stretches 575 miles (925 kms) along a beautiful, lush mountain range? A road used by very few cars (no trucks) with no business traffic or commuters. Speed limits of 35 to 45 mph. And what if there was only one (that’s ONE) Stop sign over the entire 575 mile route, would that appeal? Sound like paradise?

Such a cycling paradise exists – in the US – and it’s called the Skyline Drive (105 miles; 169 kms) and Blue Ridge Parkway (469 miles; 756 kms), which are separated by only one Stop sign.

There is no highway more ideal for bicycling in North America than the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway, a road built along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, one of the oldest mountain ranges in North America.

On the Appalachian Epic Ride, you will experience the beauty of old forests, the serenity of a road essentially reserved for you and your cycling friends, and abundant wildlife, including black bears, white-tailed deer, red fox, gray fox, bobcats, wild turkeys, and much more.

Stretching from Front Royal, Virginia, south to Cherokee, North Carolina, the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway have a fascinating story. Most of the roadway, observation overlooks and park lodges were built during the Great Depression in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, which provided jobs for building infrastructure projects across the US. Climbs are never steeper than 8%, the maximum that cars could handle in the 1930s, and there are lots of them.

From the lowest elevation of 649 feet in Virginia to the highest of 6,053 feet in North Carolina, the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway provide challenges – and rewards – every year to thousands of cyclists. Why not add this “wonder” to your cycling palmares!

Ride safe, Jim

Top 10 best coastal cycling routes according to our team

There is something truly special about a coastal cycle ride, complete with dazzling water views as the miles slide by. On our epic cycling tours, we get to experience some of the worlds best coastal cycling. Here are our top 10 routes from our epic cycle tours for your reading pleasure according to our trip specialists.

Cycling on the Sardinian coast

1. Sparkling Mediterranean views, colourful Bosa and superb local wines, Three Islands tour, Sardinia, Italy 

Cycling from Alghero to Cabras along the coastal line of northwest Sardinia, we will ride some of the best cycling routes of the island; a journey through 3000 years of Mediterranean history, touching the colourful Bosa on the way. Bosa is one of Italy’s most beautiful towns, with its rainbow of pastel houses a dream for your travel snaps.

The ride starts in one of Sardinia’s most beautiful medieval cities, Alghero, with its lively historic centre. From there you take a rolling road by the stunning coastline – under the wings of Griffon Vultures – followed by a brief hilly section, to end the day immersed in pastures and fertile cereal fields and the vineyards of the Oristano region. An unforgettable day, especially after reaching Cabras for a well-earned sip of Malvasia or Vernaccia di Oristano, the unique local wines. Enrico Casini

Corsica coast ride

2. Pink granite rock formations and coastal ridge riding, Three Islands Tour, Corsica, France

Having been part of all editions of the 3 Islands Tour in their entirety, there are many beautiful coastal rides with stunning scenery that I could write about. However, there is one particular route on Corsica from Calvi to Porto that stands out above the others. This day is my absolute favourite, and it begins literally at the start of the day as we leave the beautiful small and vibrant town of Calvi on an 82km ride with around 1370m of elevation.

Within just two kilometres we are riding on coastal balconies with views of the fantastic cliffs and rock pools below to our right, and equally stunning rock formations of pink granite, inland to our left. This quiet but beautiful road meanders and climbs gently for the first part of the day, before heading slightly inland and onto roads of slightly more challenging construction. Nothing to worry about here though as there is hardly any traffic.

After morning coffee we’re back on the coastal balconies and heading due south, the seawater becomes brighter and more glorious shades of blue. Meandering through tiny resorts we brush shoulders with some tourists, but not too many as we are well away from the large holiday destinations. Crossing the border between Haut Corse and the Corse du Sud we can begin to see the granite formations changing in colour from pink to red.

Later in the day we ascend and skirt around the UNESCO listed Scandola Nature Reserve to the cliff tops that almost completely envelope the tiny yet stunning coastal town of Porto. The views at this point are arguably some of the best seen on the whole tour. We have a great opportunity to stop and photograph the port, from different heights as descend down to our magnificent overnight destination.

My advice to any Ride & Seekers for this day is to not rush this beautiful ride, take your time and shoot some fantastic photos for your everlasting tour memories! The route is around 82km with 1372m of elevation. Richie Mitchell

3. Islands and spectacular Japanese bridges on the Shimanami Kaido, Samurai Tour, Japan

I can probably count on one hand the number of other “serious cyclists” I saw during our 10-day trip riding around Japan’s Shikoku Island. The vast majority use the bike as a means of transport and not so much by the aforementioned “serious cyclists”. But this doesn’t mean Japan isn’t a bike-friendly destination, the cars are small enough to be far less imposing on the road, the drivers are extremely courteous and respectful and the road surfaces and infrastructure are some of the best I’ve experienced anywhere in the world. Nowhere is this more evident than the Shimanami Kaido, 80km of pristine Japanese roads and cycle paths that crosses 6 bridges and 6 islands between Imabari on Shikoku and Onomichi on the mainland of Honshu.

Japan is an island nation and as you cross the Seto (narrow seas) this becomes incredibly evident. The area is actually a volcanic mountain range that was filled in by the sea when the polar ice caps last melted 50000 years ago. The network of bridges spanning this sea is a stunning engineering achievement that allows you to propel yourself high above the container ships and fishing boats, passing way beneath, as you head towards yet another island. Some have coastlines of rugged cliffs and rocks, some with beautiful sandy beaches. The route doesn’t just hug the shorelines though, we meander up through the forests into the inner hills before descending back to tiny fishing villages and towns with beautiful Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

And yet with all this natural beauty linked by engineering masterpieces I probably only saw enough “serious cyclists” to fill up the other hand. There were many tourists on city bikes with dresses blowing in the sea breeze, but I still felt a sense of privilege to be able to cycle this incredible route, and couldn’t help thinking that one day I will strike up a conversation with someone else who has ridden it, but that day may be a long time coming!

The cycling route can be ridden in either direction (from Imabari or Onomichi). It is well signposted and maintained, and the bridges of the route are accessed by ramped bridges with a gradual incline. Depending on your cycling level, it can be comfortably completed in a day. James Geen

Cycling off Venice

4. Island hopping from Venice Lido to Chioggia on the Caesar Tour, Italy 

The third week of our Caesar tour (London to Rome) is one for the ages as we ride from Lake Como to the Serenissima – Venice. Along the way, we take on the iconic Stelvio climb and then ride over the stunning Dolomites before descending down to the Po valley and on to Venice. Rather than stay in Venice itself, we base ourselves on the iconic Lido di Venezia that is one of the two barrier islands that serve to protect Venice from the Adriatic Sea.

This 11km long island, that is also the venue for the eponymous film festival, provides us with a novel coastal ride as we island-hop to the mainland and to the charming fishing town of Chioggia that is also known as ‘Little Venice’ and renowned for its beetroot! We start the day by riding the length of the island to catch the scheduled ferry to the other Venetian barrier island of Pellestrina. There are 4 main villages on pretty Pellestrina that are known for their colourful painted houses and large embankments.

What makes this coastal ride so novel is how we get from Pellestrina to the mainland. There is no onward ferry to get us from Pellestrina to the mainland and it here that our friend Mario comes in. When we were conceptualising the Caesar tour we were faced with the quandary of wanting to stay on Venice but not sure how to get off! Mario is a local fisherman who provides the seafood for our fantastic end of week meal at the Osteria Al Merca and had heard about our challenge via the owner. Every time we come through now he comes and picks us up from Pellestrina and takes us to Chioggia.

Thanks to Mario we have created a coastal ride that provides a really interesting insight into a side of Venice that few get to experience whilst enabling us to avoid the traffic and industry that are found on the more conventional routes out of Venice. On arrival into Chioggia we grab a coffee and a local tramezzina sandwich before riding down the coast to the Byzantine jewel of Ravenna. Dylan Reynolds

Tangiers lighthouse

5. Cycling the Mediterranean coast from Fnideq to Tangiers on the Conquest of the Moors Tour, Morocco

Travelling in magical Morocco will make you feel like time stands still. Travelling by bicycle here gives you a true sense of being off the well-beaten path. Our final days riding in Morocco is a real highlight of our epic Conquest of the Moors tour. We ride from our stunning beach retreat near Fnideq towards the Northern Mediterranean coast of Morocco.

Within a few miles, we are skirting around the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, one of only two Spanish enclaves on the African continent, continuing onwards to Plage Dalia on the North coast. We have our coffee stop at Plage Dalia where we sample Spanish influenced seafood and snacks our friend Ahoud’s fish cafe. With the crystal clear waters calling, a swim is also an option for those looking for a dip in the Med.  From here we follow a remarkable coastal ridge road, beach hopping between Plage Kasar Sjir and Plage Oued Alain before our final ride into atmospheric Tangiers. Ben Weigl

Marco Polo coast road

6. A cycling paradise with dazzling sea views, Marco Polo Tour, Albania

Let’s face it, none of us, before going to Albania for the first time, would have thought of finding one of the most beautiful coastal paths in the Mediterranean. Well, get ready to be surprised by this corner of paradise for cyclists, a series of hairpin bends that you would expect to find in the Dolomites, are set in a mountain overlooking the sea in the wonderful Llogara park in southern Albania, on the Canale di Otranto. Mythical places that remind us of Homeric legends, but also where the sounds and morphology of the Balkans magically meet with the colours and warmth of the Mediterranean. So let’s get rid of prejudices and set off on a bike to discover this wonderful territory.

We leave the lively avenues of Vlora along a coastal path that initially follows the city beach and then continues along gentle cliffs and small seaside hamlets. After passing Orikum, we enter the park in a mountain landscape, after a memorable climb of over 15 km we reach the Llogara pass (1,050 m above sea level). From here we enjoy a wonderful panorama that sweeps from the coasts of Puglia to the Greek island of Corfu, to then dive into the exciting bends overlooking the sea that bring us back to the coast between olive groves and small villages clinging to the cliffs. The town of Saranda, in the far south of Albania, is the perfect place to end an unforgettable day. Marcello Usala

Hvar coastal ride

7. Crystal clear Adriatic waters, UNESCO sites and lavender, Marco Polo Tour, Croatia

Starting our day in Stari Grad (Hvar), we head straight towards the incredible Stari Grad Plains, a world heritage listed UNESCO site. The Stari Grad Plains, built in the 4th century by the Ionian Greeks, are agricultural drywall formations and shelters which are still used to grow grapes and olives today. From there we head through pretty port towns Vrboska and Jelsa and into the wilder centre of Hvar island, riding through pines and rugged rocky landscape.

As we turn and head towards Hvar Town, the final 20km of the ride brings with it jaw-dropping sea vistas and lavender fields. The route meanders through Brusje with its fragrant lavender fields (blooming late June/early July) and onwards with sensational sea views to either side. It is a feast for the senses as we head towards our destination of Hvar Town. We finish the day at the hip Hula Hula bar for sundowners and toast a wonderful day on the bike. Megan Reynolds

Cycling Cap Corse

8. The dizzying heights of Cap Corse, Three Islands Tour, Corsica, France

We leave Bastia behind heading North on the Eastern coast of Cap Corse, we ride a series of little ports, beaches and marinas before the climbing begins. The elevation begins to increase as we climb into the hills to the Northernmost point of Corsica where views of Ile de la Giraglia will await us. As we turn to head back down the Western side of the cape, the coastal views just keep coming. And it is spectacular. The route takes us along cliffside roads, high above the sea with breathtaking views.

The route takes in some of the islands most fascinating historical remnants, the Genoese towers. The watchtowers, built in the 16th century, were manned to signal the arrival of potential Barbary pirates. Fires were lit to communicate between the towers and with the surrounding villages. Some of the towers still remain today, of which you will see some fine examples along our route.

The route continues down the coast, taking in the incredible black sand beaches surrounding Nonza and onwards to finish in Saint Florent. Set on a sparkling bay, this medieval village is perfect for an evening aperitif overlooking the marina. Simone Scalas

Lunch on Lake Trasimeno

9. Cycle a real historical battlefield at Lake Trasimeno, Hannibal Tour, Italy  

“Cycling around the battlefield at Lake Trasimeno is one of my historical highlights of the Hannibal epic. Rare indeed is it to be able to walk (cycle!) through the exact location of such an iconic battle. but thanks to the ancient sources and the unique geography, we can!” Ben Kane.

On tour, we depart from Pienza (Tuscany) and ride past the noble vineyards of Montepulciano before we make our way to the site of one of Hannibal’s most famous and bloody battles, Lake Trasimeno. To this day, this battle is considered by some to be the greatest ambush in history, with 15,000 Roman soldiers losing their lives, with Hannibal losing only a mere 1500 by comparison.  The battle was reportedly of such proportions that the waters of Lake Trasimeno ran red for days with blood from the nearby battlefield.

In present times, there is still recognition of Hannibals greatest victory, with many information boards which mark significant sites and provide further information on the battle. For our guests on tour, we also picnic at the lake itself during our day ride and contemplate the events of this historical place. From there, we continue through the Umbrian countryside to our destination of Todi, a majestic hilltop town.

10. Tiny coves and temples on Noto Peninsula, Samurai Tour, Japan

Our detailed GPS routes allow riders to get off even the quiet coast routes and be led through the laneways of little fishing villages. The inhabitants here continue to live with the rhythm of the ocean as they have been for centuries. Smooth, fantastically engineered roads greet you as you weave along the coast with expansive views of the Sea of Japan. You will cycle in and out of small coves tucked in among the cliffs dotted with fishing craft.  Temples and shrines decorate the most beautiful hilltops and rock outcrops. Once off the bike, unwind in one of the hotel natural hot springs which are often placed where they afford a slower more contemplative coastal view. Finish the day sampling a wonderful collection of the local fruits of the ocean, decorated so beautifully, it can be said that we dine on ‘edible art’. Ben Weigl

We hope you have enjoyed our round-up of the best coastal routes. Let us know in the comments if you have ridden any of these or give us a heads up on your favourite coastal routes!


Your Average Cycling Speed and Why it Matters | Ride and Seek

What is Your Average Cycling Speed and Why it Matters

Given how general the title to this blog is, we imagine that various kinds of cycling enthusiasts will find their way here (or we at least hope you will). While Ride and Seek provides truly epic cycling trips all around the world, we hope many of our cycling guides will be useful to casual cyclists as well as some of our regular guests who come on our tours. Today we’d like to talk about average cycling speed and why it matters. This is a casual discussion of the topic, but we hope to offer some useful advice and insight. If anything we say inspires you to travel with us, take a look at our Epic Cycling Tours and please get in touch if you have any questions.

An Introduction to Average Cycling Speeds

If you’re a cycling veteran, you likely already know your average cycling speed. Depending on your goals, it’s also highly likely that you’re trying to increase this number. In road cycling, we often cover vast distances, so top speed isn’t nearly as relevant as your average cycling speed. We’re cycling dozens of miles each day, understanding your average speed can help you judge what kind of distance you’ve capable of covering, which in turn allows you to plan larger cycling trips, cycling from accommodation to accommodation.

Working out your Average Cycling Speed

At its simplest, you can simply take the overall distance of your journey and divide it by the time it takes you to complete it. This is your average cycling speed. It gets a lot more complicated, however, when you consider relief, traffic, obstacles, and anything else that slows you down. Your average cycling speed in the ups and downs of a mountain range will likely be significantly lower than your average speed on a flat route. And, as very few routes are ever perfectly flat, it’s hard to fully define your absolute average cycling speed. This gives us all plenty of wiggle room when judging ourselves as cyclists as we can make all kinds of excuses as to why our time was a little lower than expected…

The Average Cycling Speed of Beginner Cyclists

While some people’s mileage may vary, most agree that the average cycling speed of beginner cyclists ranges between 10 and 15mph (16 to 24kph). If you arrive at cycling completely fresh, it’s likely to be at the lower end of this range, but if you have previously been an avid jogger or you are especially fit, then you may be at the top end of this range. However, given the unique physical challenges of cycling, it’s unlikely you’ll be much above 15mph at the beginning, but that’s okay. It’s completely normal.

The Average Cycling Speed of Professional Cyclists

Professional cyclists are on a completely different level, reaching average speeds of between 25 to 28mph (40 to 45kph) on flat roads. No one can get to these speeds overnight; it takes years of training to achieve. So, while it’s good to aspire towards these top speeds on some abstract level, if you never plan to race professionally you shouldn’t make the pros’ average speeds the metric with which to judge your success as a cyclist. Aim for something in between and be happy with any gains you make.

How to Increase your Average Cycling Speed

Lastly, we’d like to look at several simple things you can do to increase your average cycling speed. Of course, working on your cardiovascular fitness and improving your overall stamina is part of this, but there are other smaller tweaks that you might find useful. We’d like to outline some of our favourite tips and tricks for improving your average cycling speed below.

Take Advantage of Downhill Stretches

This may seem obvious, but a common difference between a beginner cyclist and a veteran is how quickly they speed down hills. Beginners may be a little wary of the higher speeds, so they may choose to pedal less or to occasionally use their brakes to regulate their speed, while an experienced cyclist will know how fast they can go while maintaining full control. Heading downhill should often be seen as the opportunity to make up some of the time you lost climbing up to that height earlier on the route.

Riding as a Group

Riding as a group can significantly increase your average cycling speed for two main reasons. The first is that cycling in a group spurs you on, giving you enthusiasm and energy you simply wouldn’t have on your own. Ride and Seek has run group cycling tours all around Europe and beyond for years and our guests often say that being with the guides and the rest of the group gives them energy they never knew they had.

The other benefit to cycling in a group is that you can take advantage of the drafting effect, reducing wind resistance for those behind the leaders. Drafting can reduce the effort required by up to 40%, so it’s not a small, ignorable factor when trying to increase your average speed. Often groups will rotate who is at the front to conserve people’s energy, keeping the entire party moving much faster and for longer than any of them could manage on their own.

Your Cycling Cadence

This topic deserves a blog all to itself as there is a lot to say about cadence. Put simply, your cadence is how quickly you pedal. Pedalling faster can actually be easier, as there is often less resistance as long as you’re in the right gear and are moving at the right speed. It’s a complex topic that we won’t cover in depth today; but it’s worth noting that you should aim for a cadence of between 80 and 90rpm to get the most speed without exhausting yourself too much.

There is so much to discuss on this topic, such as using your bike’s gears efficiently, reducing wind resistance, factoring in tailwinds, and much much more. When we get a little more time, perhaps we can come back to this guide and add to it. Ultimately, understanding your own average speed matters because it lets you plan longer trips with a greater degree of accuracy, deciding on how long each day’s ride will be.

If you have any questions about our cycling tours, please feel free to get in touch. At the time of writing this, we are looking ahead to our first epic cycling trip in Australia and our first cycling trip in New Zealand. Click on these links if you’d like a little more inspiration. And please subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of the page if you’d like even more cycling inspiration!

The Top 5 Cycling Trips in Australia | Ride and Seek

The Top 5 Cycling Trips in Australia

Australian cycling does not get the praise and acclaim it deserves. Some of you reading this probably know exactly how great Australia is for cycling trips, but we think you’re probably in the minority of people reading this. Europe often steals the limelight, with its rich and varied landscapes, its deep history and innumerous cultures. But Australia has so much more to offer cyclists than many realise, and it’s important to take it on its own merit, without merely comparing it to Europe. So that’s what we’d like to do today: let’s look at our top 5 cycling trips in Australia. If we inspire you to start planning your next epic adventure, check out our entire collection of epic cycling tour experiences, and please get in touch if you have any questions.
Disclaimer: Before we get started, it’s important to clarify that any list of the top cycling trips in X destination can only ever be subjective. Anyone who thinks their opinion is 100% ‘correct’ is rarely worth listening to. We’d love to know some of the incredible cycling trips in Australia we’ve missed here, so please feel free to leave a reply at the bottom.

5) Cycling Around Ballarat

There’s a reason why Ballarat has been the host city of the Road National Championships more than anywhere else; the city is the home of Australian cycling and it would be a huge oversight for it not to make this list. That said, there are too many ways and routes to cycle around Ballarat to possibly summarise or do justice to here. It’s perhaps not immediately clear why this city and the surrounding area in the Central Highlands of Victoria is so great for cyclists, but it really is — just give it a minute to make an impression on you. Head out on your bike in any direction you like and you’ll discover the gorgeous landscapes and smooth surfaces that make this corner of Australia so great for cyclists. The roads are mostly flat, but they are occasionally interrupted by a decent-sized hill — just enough to get a real sweat going before rolling down the other side. It’s difficult to do justice to the roads and routes around Ballarat; as with all cycling, everyone agrees that much of what makes it so good simply can’t be transposed to words — you simply have to get out and experience it for yourself!

4) Rottnest Island

If you ignore the slightly unappealing name for a few seconds, you’ll have time to notice how incredible Rottnest Island is for cycling. This island just off the shore of Perth has some of the most beautiful coastline in Australia. The roads are fairly smooth and flat, and any hills that are there are gentle and rolling. The best part is that the roads of Rottnest are closed to all vehicles except the island’s buses. This means that it’s a paradise for cyclists! You can cycle the entire island in just a few hours, so the paradise is short lived. It won’t satisfy anyone in search of an epic adventure, but it is absolutely worth it if you’re looking for a short and satisfying cycling day trip in Australia.

3) Cycling Flinders Ranges

The only practical way to cycle Flinders Ranges is with a decent mountain bike. This fact alone can put off dedicated road cyclists, but we reckon this is a shame as the cycling routes through the largest mountain range in South Australia are some of the best in the country. Not only will you cycle past some of the wildest and most striking outback in the country, you’ll probably do so without seeing any vehicles on the road. So few cars go this way that it’s basically a playground for cyclists. That said, Flinders Ranges is so remote that it’s also common to cycle throughout most of the roads and still not bump into a single soul. If you’re seeking out true tranquil isolation on your next bike tour, Finders Ranges should be a very serious contender.

2) Cycling the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road in Victoria has arguably become Australia’s top driving route. The high cliffs and rugged coastline make for some of the most scenic and photogenic experiences, and while the Great Ocean Road is clearly a brilliant drive, it’s even better by bike, with no glass or walls between you and the open sea air as you look out over the crashing waves, ancient lighthouses, and the charming wildness of Great Otway National Park. While much of the roads on this route are smooth and easy, there is one part (the Otway Range) that proves very challenging. This will be a bonus for some people and perhaps a deterrent for others. On average, most cyclists seem to take around 4–5 days to cycle the Great Ocean Road. Our advice is to take it slow and to stop at the many beauty spots along the way.

1) Sydney to Hobart

It’s no conspiracy that we’ve chosen our own Australia tour first. After all, we created this experience over many months of careful planning. Ride and Seek has deep roots in Australia and creating a memorable cycling tour there had been long overdue for us. It was also incredibly rewarding to look at this vast country on the map, reflect on our own journeys there, and to start drawing out what we believe to be the best possible path. Starting in Sydney, we cycle the length of the Great Dividing Range from the Pacific Ocean to the Southern Ocean, making our way gradually to Melbourne and then across to Tasmania. There, we traverse this unique island landscape from Devonport to Hobart. There is a lot more to say about this 26-day trip, but we hope at least a few readers are interested. Check out our Sydney to Hobart Tour if you’d like to know more.

That’s all we have time for with this small glance into Europe’s truly epic collection of cycling tours. Over our many years as a cycling tour company, we’ve found that Europe’s reputation as a cycling destination precedes it, but everyone who embarks on any one of our European Cycling Tours is surprised by sights and experiences that simply can’t be summarised in a blog or travel book. If anything in this guide has inspired you to take your next big European cycling adventure with Ride and Seek, please feel free to get in touch to ask any questions. And if you’d like regular inspiration, please sign-up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page.

Top 5 Bike Tours in Europe | Ride and Seek

Top 5 Bike Tours in Europe

Europe’s varied landscapes, vibrant cultures, and rich tapestry of history are part of what make it the most popular continent in the world for cycling tours. And it’s also Europe’s surfaces that draw cyclists from all over the world — from the ancient roads built by the Romans to the modern cycling paths built into many of Europe’s cycling-centric cities and countryside. While the team at Ride and Seek are extremely excited about our first two Southern Hemisphere tours — our Maori Bike Tour of New Zealand and our Strzelecki Bike Tour of Australia — we have to acknowledge that the majority of our cycling tours are in Europe for a reason, and we’d like to look at our five top bike tours in Europe. If anything in this blog inspires any questions, please feel free to reach out.

5) Three Islands Bike Tour

This Three Islands Bike Tour visits three of the Mediterranean’s most special islands: Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily. A cycling tour in any of these enigmatic locations would be special in its own right, but when you put them all together you create a truly transcendent journey. The grandeur of the mountains of northern Corsica contrast with its idyllic little fishing villages as you make your way from north to south. In Sardinia, you get a feel for this sun-baked island, home to the ancient Phoenicians, as you travel along the west coast until you reach Cagliari. In Sicily, you travel along the breathtaking southern coast, from Palermo to Siracusa.

4) Bike Tour from London to Rome

Our Bike Tour from London to Rome is aptly named ‘Caesar’ after Ancient Rome’s most prestigious leader. Spanning most of the breadth of the Roman Empire, this cycling tour takes 17 days to traverse through England, France, Belgium, Switzerland, San Marino, and Italy, from London in the north to Rome in the south. This bike tour is graded four on our espresso difficulty scale, so it isn’t for the fainthearted — but for those bold enough, this is one of the most iconic cycling routes in Europe.

3) Bike Tour Through Southern France

France is a country synonymous with epic and iconic cycling tours. This is why so many of our European cycling tours spend at least a little time here. However, our Cro Magnon Cycling Tour spends its entire 17 days in the south of France, taking a journey through prehistory, in the steps of early homo-sapiens: Cro-Magnon. Cycle the majestic Gorges d’Ardeche, traverse the Cevennes region, take the road less travelled through the Languedoc region… All this and more, on this iconic cycling tour.

2) Cycling Tour from Venice to Athens

This Venice to Athens Bike Tour offers a completely fresh and surprising alternative to most other European cycling tours. While France holds the top spot for many cycling tour enthusiasts, this is the road less cycled down through the East of Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Greece. This tour lasts 28 days and it follows in the footsteps of Marco Polo, Italy’s illustrious explorer. Take in the incomparable journey down the western coast of the Balkan Peninsula, visiting Split, Hvar, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Durazzo, Valona, Delphi, Athens, and so many more places along the way.

1) Bike Tour from Paris to Saint Petersburg

In our number one slot, we have put our Paris to Saint Petersburg Cycling Tour, which is named after Napoleon. Following the famous conqueror’s path through Europe, this bike tour is as epic as they come, spanning 36 days, crossing seven countries, and two continents. Cycle through the oak-lined canals of Paris, along the verdant beauty of Champagne-Ardenne and Germany’s Rhineland. Pedal across Poland’s rural roads, lined with huge deciduous trees, and onwards to Lithuania, Estonia, and then, finally, to Russia. If you’d like to cycle across Europe, taking in the sights and staying in boutique accommodation along the way, then this Napoleon tour is the epic adventure you’d been waiting for.

That’s all we have time for with this small glance into Europe’s truly epic collection of cycling tours. Over our many years as a cycling tour company, we’ve found that Europe’s reputation as a cycling destination precedes it, but everyone who embarks on any one of our European Cycling Tours is surprised by sights and experiences that simply can’t be summarised in a blog or travel book. If anything in this guide has inspired you to take your next big European cycling adventure with Ride and Seek, please feel free to get in touch to ask any questions. And if you’d like regular inspiration, please sign-up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page.

Tour Specifics – APPALACHIANS


Appalachians – Maine to North Carolina





(Sunday 30th May – Saturday 12th June) 

For Stage 1 the official start point is at the Bethel Inn in Bethel, ME at 1400 on Sunday, May 30th.

From the airport, we can also pick you up from downtown Portland on the way to Bethel if you arrive earlier. Our recommended hotel in Portland is the Hampton Inn Portland Downtown – Waterfront . The travel time to Bethel is 90 minutes.

Bethel Inn
Bethel Inn MN

The nearest airport for the tour is in Portland, ME, and we have a pick up from there at 1200 on May 30th. We’ll meet you in the baggage claim area.

The stage end is in Gettysburg after breakfast on Saturday, June 12th. Our final hotel is the centrally located Inn at Cemetery Hill. We have a shuttle to the Dulles International Airport on the morning of the 12th. The journey time is around 90 minutes.


(Saturday 12th – Saturday 26th June) 

The meeting point for stage 2 is at the Inn at Cemetery Hill at 1500 on Saturday 12th June. We have a pickup from the Dulles International Airport at 1200 for those that fly in on the day. The journey time is around 90 minutes.

Please note that whilst we suggest bringing lights for the entire tour they are imperative on the Blue Ridge Parkway which has a series of tunnels that we need to pass through.

Inn at Cemetery Hill, Gettysburg PA


(Saturday 26th June) 

The riding part of the tour ends in Cherokee, NC around lunchtime. From here we shuttle you back to the vibrant town of Asheville for our final night. The last hotel is Four Points by Sheraton in downtown Asheville. After breakfast on Saturday, June 26th we will have a shuttle to Asheville Airport which is around 30 minutes drive away.

Four Points by Sheraton, Asheville NC

Dalmatian Peka with a glass of Dingač

Setting up our Epic Adventures is very much a process that evolves over the course of time. Generally, it starts with a conversation about how cool it would be to follow in the footsteps of a particular historical figure to then poring over maps as to the feasibility of doing it on a bike! If the idea strikes a chord we then find ourselves conceptualizing a route and then trying to join the dots between places of interest along the way. Before we know it the trip specialists are searching out the road less travelled, visiting possible lodging options and searching out eateries that give a sense of the place we are visiting.

With our Marco Polo Cycling Tour the process was very much assisted by the fact our trip specialist Marcello had been running tours down the Dalmatian coast for many years and had studied in Venice over 2o years ago. The tour was very much a realisation of a personal dream to create a tour with Marco Polo at its core and we were more than happy to make it happen. However, there was still a need to test some of his recommendations before we added them to the roster. This was the case with a family-run restaurant in an abandoned village on the island of Hvar that Marcello thought would work well on the tour. It is fair to say Dylan didn’t object too strongly when asked to try it out when on a family holiday in Hvar!

The test run was a resounding success and everything about the experience fitted with our desire to sample local fare and get a sense of place through doing so. Our host and chef Berti took the time to introduce us to his family and explained how he ended up running a biodynamic restaurant specialising in ‘peka’ in an abandoned village on the island of Hvar. It was clear that this dining experience had all the ‘ingredients’ to be added to the list of culinary highlights across the tours we run and our visit there in September proved that to be the case. The meat and seafood peka dishes served up were sublime and so we thought we thought we’d give you more of an insight into what ‘peka’ actually was.

The peka is a traditional dish from the Dalmatian region of Croatia. It’s a relatively simple dish of meat and vegetables, placed in a large pot or pan with a metal lid called a cripnja, and cooked for several hours in the embers of a fire. Much of Croatian cuisine celebrates cooking over the fire, with its grills and skewers, and the peka is part of this great tradition. What appears a fairly rudimentary cooking method produces the most succulent results, and over the generations, the process has taken on its own ritual, with many older homes having a specific place where the peka is prepared. It is often served when there are guests in the house, and restaurants in the area will typically have several versions on the menu, with different choices of meat and fish.

The Peka recipe

– Light the fire at least an hour before starting to cook, and place the cooking pot near the fire to warm.
– Cut the meat or fish into large pieces and place in the pot. Lamb and veal are often used, as is fish and octopus.
– Cut the potatoes and any vegetables you wish to use into large pieces and nestle them in the pot along with the meat.
– Season with olive oil, salt, pepper and a little paprika.
– When you have plenty of embers in the fireplace move them to one side using your fireside shovel, and place the peka pan directly onto the hot stone, making sure the lid is securely fitted.
– Then shovel the embers over the top of the pot and cook until the potatoes are golden and the meat tender and juicy, which will take an hour for fish dishes, and longer for tougher cuts of meat.

The right amount of seasoning and perfect cooking time comes with experience, like so many things in life!

As is often the case the best accompaniment to a dish that is very much a part of its local culture, is a local wine. Here are a few of Croatia’s most fabulous reds and whites. We were very lucky to have our newly qualified sommelier Marcello on the tour to manage the wine kitty 🙂

Dingač is known as the ‘King of Croatian wines’. The Dingač region is on the Pelješac Peninsula in the Dalmatian region and was the first wine-producing area in Croatia to become a protected zone in 1965. The Plavac mali grape, that grows on its steep southern slopes, creates a wine that is dark red, full-bodied and generally strong, typically with an alcohol content of 15%.

Pošip is a robust white wine, golden in colour, and a great accompaniment to fish Peka, including the fabulous octopus peka. The grape is grown mostly on the island of Korčula, and also goes well with the light cheeses produced in the area.

Plavac mali is a ruby red, rich and velvety wine. Its excellent quality has made it one of Croatia’s most exported wines, and a popular choice to pair with game and meat dishes.

Faros is another a top-quality wine produced from the Plavac mali grape. The grapes used to create this dry red are grown on the island of Hvar, the variety having been originally cultivated in the area by the ancient Greeks.

Bogdanuša is a variety also grown almost exclusively on the island of Hvar, producing a dry greenish-yellow white wine. It has a fresh taste, with fans detecting the presence of the lavender that grows alongside it on the Stari Grad Plain.

Prošek is a sweet dessert wine produced in the south of Croatia, predominantly Dalmatia. Because of its production method that requires seven times more grapes than other wines, only a few hundred litres are made each year, making good quality versions more expensive. In Croatia it often makes an appearance on special occasions such as weddings and christenings, but don’t fall into the trap of confusing it with Italian Prosecco!

Our Lightened COV19 Terms & Conditions

Dear Ride and Seekers

With the COVID-19 -coronavirus still dominating the headlines I wanted to reach out to let you know our thoughts on the situation and attempt to assuage any concerns you have. Like you we have been watching closely to determine what impact the new virus means for our families, friends, and businesses.

From our perspective, we are committed to running any of the tours on the Tour Schedule in 2020 that we are permitted to, and our medical committee deems it safe to do so. At this point in time, we have given the green light to 3 tours in 2020 – Hannibal – Across the Alps, Marco Polo – Venice to Athens, and Strzelecki – Sydney to Melbourne. We decided to defer the iron Curtain and Conquest of the Moors Tours to 2021 under advice from the committee.

With regards to the tours due to run we appreciate that this is a dynamic situation that is changing daily though. After months of changing plans, we are not naive about the changing nature of this pandemic and are fully accepting that we might still need to cancel these tours. Indeed, our revised terms & conditions are geared to provide flexibility to change plans up until 14 days prior to departure this year and beyond.

In terms of proactive measures we have taken, the points below relate to tangible changes we have made to the tours. Our COVID19 ‘On Tour Health And Safety Protocol’ also provides more details about some of the specific measures we have in place and the references we have used to put it together.

  • Creating new route options for bypassing the most ‘at risk’ areas that the tours travel through if required.
  • Taking provisional hotel bookings along the ‘new’ routes until we can make a definitive call on the situation.
  • Putting in place clear protocols on tour to reduce the risk of contamination with a particular focus on snack and lunch stops.
  • Revisiting our risk assessment strategies in terms of dealing with illness on tour and the emergency procedures we have in place.
  • Researching the information available from health authorities about COVID-19 and keeping abreast of updates from governments, airlines, and insurance companies.

In regard to the tours that will run in 2020 and into 2021 we believe that offering increased booking and cancellation flexibility is key and we invite you to read our updated Terms and Conditions that designed to this end.

At this point, it feels like we need to take some time to see how the situation will play out, and hopefully, our revised terms provide both reassurance and a practical approach in this context.  My ‘glass half full’ side also believes that the upcoming tours will benefit from fewer crowds in the places we visit, as was found by our cyclists on the  Maori tour in New Zealand back in February.

For now, it is important to keep abreast of the information from our most trusted sources. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)- – and World Health Organisation are a good place t0 start –

I hope this position doesn’t come across as making light of this serious situation but rather offers a practical approach for both those who wanted to both postpone tours and those determined to be on the tours they are already booked on.

This situation is very much top of mind for all of us at Ride and Seek, as well as yourselves,  so I invite anyone who wishes to tee up a chat with me to send me an email to Please do not hesitate to reach out anytime.

Here’s hoping that this situation will calm down sooner rather than later and we can all go back to doing what we enjoy most and ride our bikes in amazing places!

Kindest regards to you all,


Dylan Reynolds
Founder & Director at Ride and Seek
P  +33 66 696 3431 (Office GMT+1:00)


Meet the inspiration behind our first Aussie Cycling Epic

Our Strzelecki Tour takes us across the Great Dividing Range from the Pacific to the Southern Ocean and takes in Australia’s most iconic climbs. But who exactly was Strzelecki?

Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki, to give him his full title, was a Polish-born explorer, scientist and nobleman. Prior to landing in Australia in 1839, he’d briefly served in the Prussian Army, and was an experienced explorer with several expeditions under his belt. He initially set sail from Liverpool, England to New York in 1834, where he began an epic geological trip in the Americas, which included discovering copper in Canada, and travelling the west coast from Chile to California. He visited Cuba, Tahiti and the South Sea Islands before eventually arriving in Sydney.

With an ambitious dream of conducting a geological survey of Australia, Strzelecki’s expeditions would see him cover over 7,000 miles in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. While studying the mineralogy of the country he was the first person to discover gold and silver near Hartley and Wellington, but Governor Gipps, in office at the time, asked him to keep his discovery a secret, to avoid a gold rush and to maintain discipline among the convict population. Strzelecki agreed, and in doing so apparently forfeited his own claim to a fortune.

His expedition led him through the Snowy Mountains, where he climbed the highest peak in Australia, naming it Mount Kosciuszko, after Polish leader Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Kosciuszko was a worthy namesake, considered a national hero not just in his native Poland, but also in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and the USA. He fought on the US side in the American Revolutionary War, and is honoured with statues in several US cities – to fight against the British and then have a mountain named after him in a British Colony is pretty impressive! If Strzelecki had marked his map with the local indigenous name of ‘Targangal’ however, Australians would have had a far easier time of spelling out their highest mountain for the last 160 years.

Strzelecki then travelled south through the area he named Gippsland, after the Governor. After passing the la Trobe River things took a turn for the worse and the party were forced to abandon the horses and minerals and make a dash for Melbourne. They reached it on the edge of starvation and exhaustion, but thankfully alive, in May 1840.

He was accompanied on his trip by James Macarthur and James Riley, and it was mainly thanks to their Aboriginal guides Charlie Tarra and Jackey that the group survived. Cycling trivia fans might be interested to note that James Riley was the great-grandfather of one of Australia’s greatest cyclists, Russell Mockridge. Mockridge won cycling medals around the world, and even beat the pros in Paris in 1952 – a ‘humiliation’ which caused organisers to ban amateurs for years. He competed in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, turned pro the following year, and was one of only 60 riders to finish the 1955 Tour de France, out of a starting line of 150.

Strzelecki then travelled Tasmania (or Van Diemen’s Land as it was then known) for two years, discovering coal while he was there, before returning to Australia. He eventually set sail back to England in 1843, managing to squeeze in further expeditions in China, the East Indies and Egypt on his way back. On his return he published his findings to great acclaim from the scientific community. His snappily-titled Physical Description of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land won him praise from Charles Darwin himself, and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society.

He produced the first large geological map of New South Wales and Tasmania, which is still on public display at the Royal Geographical Society in London. He later became a British Citizen, and in 1869 was knighted, receiving the title of Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG), an honour specifically for services to the British Commonwealth, most notably his work done as a famine relief agent, which he refused to accept payment for and it has been estimated that the various works in which he was involved in during those horrible famine years saved 200,000 lives.

The Science Behind Making the Perfect Espresso

Espresso lowdown

The Espresso Grading

The Science

Espresso is approximately one ounce of a dark, smooth, heavy-bodied, aromatic, bittersweet coffee drink topped by a thick reddish-brown foam of tiny bubbles.  The foam, or crema, that captures the intense coffee flavours is as important as the liquid coffee underneath.

In more technical terms, espresso is a colloidal dispersion produced by emulsifying the insoluble oils in ground coffee. These oils don’t normally mix with water, but under the intense pressure (9 to 10 bars – 130-145psi) and heat generated by commercial espresso machines, these oils are extracted from ground coffee, formed into microscopic droplets, and suspended in liquid coffee concentrate. It is this emulsification of oils, which forms the crema, that distinguishes ‘espresso’ from strong coffee.

Crema markedly alters an espresso in terms of its mouthfeel, density, viscosity, wetting power, and foam-forming ability, making it the single most important indicator of espresso quality. If there is no crema, it means the oils have not been emulsified, and hence it is not an espresso.

Crema also captures the volatile vapours produced during the espresso extraction process. These aroma molecules, later released in the mouth as the espresso is consumed, find their way to the nasal cavity through the pharynx. They also attach themselves to the taste buds and slowly release volatile compounds until after the espresso is long gone. This accounts for an espresso’s aftertaste, an important quality indicator.

The remarkable thing about a properly made espresso is that maximum flavour is extracted from the ground coffee while much of the caffeine and excess acids are left behind. The high pressure of the extraction and the small volume of water that passes through the ground coffee is mostly responsible for this feat.

The information I found came from a website called josuma. If you’re interested in an even more detailed overview click here for A Crash Course in Coffee Science

How we grade our tours?

Espressos are synonymous with cycling and have been an integral part of pretty much every tour we’ve run. There is no better way of getting the group back together than a well-timed coffee stop and the guide teams take great pride in scouting out the best options when they are setting the tours up beforehand

On our Hannibal Tour for example we get to sample the respective delights of the espresso across 3 countries – Spain, France, and Italy. We’re a bit of a traditionalist in terms of our preference and will generally always lean towards the Italian option particularly in the morning when a cappuccino is hard to beat. That said we still appreciate the merits of the French and Spanish options.

It seemed only natural that our grading system for the tours should be based on the coffee. Indeed, it is titled the espresso grading system with the logic being the harder the tour the more espresso’s you’ll need. At the opposite end of the scale, we consider our easiest tours to be ‘cappuccino’ tours.

“Cappuccino”Ride and Seek Bike Tours Espresso Cup

Who am I? I’m relatively fit and am comfortable with steady hills that are less than 750m in length.
Distance: 30-50km (18-30miles)
Altitude gain: 200-500m
Time in the saddle: 1-3 hours
Terrain: Flat to undulating

“Due espressi”Ride and Seek Bike Tours Espresso Cup

Who am I? I ride my bike on a regular basis either for fitness, to commute, or just for fun. I enjoy an active lifestyle, as well as a physical challenge.
Distance: 50 -70km (30-45miles)
Altitude gain: 600-1000m
Time in saddle: 2-4 hours
Terrain: Undulating terrain, with hills up to 2 km in length.

“Tre espressi”Ride and Seek Bike Tours Espresso Cup

Who am I? Fitness is a central part of my life. I ride my bike on a weekly basis and am comfortable with rides of 2 hours or more at a relatively strong tempo. I like a physical challenge and like to get my heart pumping.
Distance: 70-115km (43-71 miles)
Altitude gain: 1000-2000m
Time in saddle: 3-5hours
Terrain: All terrain, with hills averaging 3-4km, but up to 10km in length.

“Quattro espressi”Ride and Seek Bike Tours Espresso Cup

Who am I? I ride my bike an average at least 160km per week and enjoy riding at a fast pace for an extended period of time. I love to push myself to my physical limits.
Distance: 100-160km (60-100miles)
Altitude gain: 1500-4000m
Time in saddle: 4-8hours
Terrain: Whatever is put in front of me!

Riding with us on Zwift in a virtual world!

If you have found your way to this page you have made a vital step in joining us for some rides on Zwift. Chris Small is leading the way on this and after 4 weeks in isolation at home in Florence is well versed in how it all works. So much so he’s been top of our Strava Club classification for the last four weeks and he’s not allowed to ride outside! The rest of our Zwift team pictured – Megan, Richie, and Dylan – are new to the platform and have spent the last couple of weeks getting familiarised so they can also lead the rides. The ride times will be posted via our Ride & Seek Strava Club and Epicurean newsletter so we invite you to sign up to both if you haven’t already. Most importantly though you’ll need to follow us – Rideandseekers Ride&Seek – on the Zwift companion app so we can invite you to our Meetups. In times like these, there is no better remedy to our problems than a nice pedal and a chat with some social distancing thrown into the mix! We look forward to riding with you in the virtual world!

Riding zwift with the team

What do I need to join the rides?

  • A Bike!
  • Zwift account – free 7-day trial for new users and then a monthly subscription.
  • Zwift companion app – use this to follow Rideandseekers Ride&Seek so we can invite you to the rides.
  • A smart trainer, direct drive or wheel-on trainer.
  • Computer, Apple tv, iPad or smartphone to enter the Zwift virtual world – position that in front of the bike.
  • Discord app – download this and we can invite you to chat with the group during the rides.
  • Smartphone to send messages to the group via Zwift companion.
  • Heart rate monitor.
  • Cadence monitor.
  • A fan to keep you cool.
  • ANT connectivity – considered more stable than Bluetooth.
General advice
  • Once you have received your invite to ride with us (best to check for this on the Zwift companion app) accept the invite and sign in to Zwift 20 minutes before the ride time.
  • When you sign in and set up your sensors you will have a choice of worlds to enter. They can be found at the top of the Zwift page. Click on the one we are using for our ride and start to warm up. 3 minutes before the start time you will get prompted on the screen to go to the start of the ride. Click yes and join the fun.
  • Our friends at GCN have also put together their usual concise overview of how it all works that is GCN Zwift rides.
Ride options – we will have two options each week
  • The options will link to our espresso grading system with Option 1 aimed at all 2-4 espresso cup riders. Option 2, on the other hand, is better suited to 3 & 4 espresso cup riders.
  • Option 1: A  no-drop group ride which will keep us all together regardless of the speed you pedal at. If someone rides at 400 watts and the slowest rider is at 100 watts you simply stay together until someone stops peddling and the elastic band effect snaps.
  • Option 2: A normal group ride where we encourage people to ride together whilst lifting the pace around halfway and doing a mini race for the last 4/5 km (2.5/3 miles).


These 13 tips for beginner zwifters are worth a read as well. see you all on the virtual road soon!

Hannibal: The inspiration for our original Epic Adventure

In 218 BC Hannibal started his march with one hundred thousand soldiers and nearly forty elephants. On the Ride and Seek Hannibal cycle tour, our aim is to follow Hannibal’s path along the coast of Spain, through France, over the Alps, down to Rome. We consider the tour to be one of our best epic cycle tours on the roster.

In the Second Punic War against Rome, after Carthage’s defeat in the First, Hannibal’s aim was to teach the Romans a lesson and restore Carthage’s pride and power.  After showing his intentions and taking Saguntum an ally of Rome in a bloody 9-month siege, Rome sent ambassadors to Carthage who dramatically demanded Hannibal be delivered as a war criminal. The Roman diplomat clutched a fold in his toga and said: ‘Here we bring you war and peace. Take whichever you please!’ (Livy 21. 18). The Carthaginians opted for war, kicking off what Livy describes as “the most memorable war in history” (Livy 21. 1). The fall of Saguntum is considered the catalyst for the Second Punic War.

Of course, the background to the Second Punic War is more complicated and includes Rome’s harsh treatment of Carthage after winning the First. The terms of the peace treaty took Sicily from Carthage, effectively ending its eastern Mediterranean dominance. And what really angered Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar, and also Hannibal, would have been Rome’s arrogant seizure of Sardinia on top of that, which was outside the terms of the treaty, but Carthage was then too weak to do anything about it.

On our Hannibal tour, we cross Hannibal’s first major natural obstacle – the Rhone river.  Where exactly he crossed isn’t known, but Polybius says it was four days march north of the mouth of the river. This is difficult to judge due to changes in the coastline over 2000 years, but it was most likely somewhere north of Arles. Some scholars even put it further north than Avignon.

What we do know with more certainty is that his crossing was opposed by the Volcae – an aggressive local Gallic tribe. Hannibal’s strategy was to send his nephew Hanno with a detachment of troops north. He was to cross the river upstream and surprise the Volcae.

Hannibal bought up all the local boats, canoes and anything that would get his huge army and baggage train across the fast-flowing river. The Rhone is no longer a wild river – the only peril today seems to be massive transport barges which speed downstream. In Hannibal’s time, it would have been a dangerous obstacle and he seemed to be very diligent in his preparations.

Once Hanno had sent a smoke signal to notify his uncle he was in position, Hannibal embarked with his main force. When he landed on the opposite bank Hanno sprung his ambush. The Volcae’s raucous howling turned to panic as they were caught in a classic pincer movement. Luckily we don’t face the Volcae as we cross the Rhone and the locals give us a much warmer welcome these days.

Once Hannibal had set up his beachhead on the east bank of the Rhone he began the extensive operation of getting the rest of his troops across the river. Smaller boats crossed in the lee of larger vessels so they didn’t bear the full brunt of the current. The cavalry swam with their rides but the elephants needed more persuasion.

Polybius says that Hannibal built rafts, covered them with soil and urged a female elephant onto these floating islands and the rest of the herd followed. However, once the rafts were detached from the bank, the elephants panicked and were forced to make their own way across to the other side – Polybius believes the elephants walked across the bottom of the river using their trunks as snorkels!

Livy, our other main ancient source, writes that the elephants swam from the beginning following the lead male, who was driven to rage by his driver. This brave man then jumped into the river himself, with the elephant herd following the lead male who, in turn, was intent on catching the driver – who would have swum desperately fast to the other side!

Once Hannibal’s army was across the Rhone he sent three hundred of his crack Numidian cavalry to reconnoitre the surrounding areas. The Roman Consul Cornelius Scipio, who had just landed in Massilia (modern Marseille) did the same and sent some of his scouts north. Scipio was at the mouth of the Rhone and on his way to Spain to intercept Hannibal. It was a surprise to both cavalry forces when they met in a fierce but brief engagement. This was the first clash between Rome and Carthage in the Second Punic War and the Romans had the better of the skirmish, losing fewer troops and forcing the Numidians to flee back to camp.

Once Hannibal learned of the proximity of the Roman army he had a decision to make: stay and fight or speed on to Italy. With so much to gain from making war in Italy, he chose the latter and headed north away from Scipio and towards the Alps. Scipio, realising his intention but unable to cut him off, headed back to Italy to prepare for war on Roman soil.

Hannibal and his army were closing in on their goal but had their greatest obstacle to come: the Alps. This was an enormous challenge for an army, let alone for cyclists like us!

Ride with us into history for some of the best epic cycling of your life!- Hannibal tour.


Top 10 memorable moments in 2019 according to our team

As we look forward to the start of our 2020 season, we are reflecting on a epic 2019 season. We all know those moments when travelling where some sort of magic happens. All seems right in the world, your every day worries far from your mind. You sit back and think there is no place you’d rather be. Whether it is a particularly special sunset, making a new friend from a foreign land or a particularly scrumptious meal. There are many moments like these that stay in our memories long after our tours are over.

So we asked our team what their best epic cyle tour magic tour moments were off the bike. A pretty tough ask considering what we pack in during a season but we have collated some of our favourites here:

1. Nouvelle cuisine with Lithuania’s best chef, Vilnius (Napoleon Tour)

“When we arrived at this beautiful restaurant we knew we would be treated to a special dinner. The chef is considered the best in Lithuania and joined us for each course to provide a description of each creation of our tasting menu. It added a special element to the meal and led to many of us photo documenting our culinary journey. The chef was even generous enough to share his secret seed bread recipe with me too!”” Colette Saunders

2. A private concert of true Sardinian folk songs, Sardinia (Three Islands Tour)

“With a perfect setting outside on the terrace of our Albergo diffuso hotel in Cabras Sardinia, I arranged a private concert with a “Canto a Tenore”, a group of Sardinian 4 singers performing traditional and ancestral songs using just their voices (or ‘A Cappella’).  For me, this singing group is special being friends of mine who also sang at my wedding. This type of singing is called the Cantu a tenore and is practised in groups of four in a close circle. For me it is a true taste of Sardinian culture and a powerful performance to witness.” Simone Scalas

3. History direct from a local in Berlin (Iron Curtain Tour)

“To commence the Iron Curtain tour we arranged for a bike tour around the city, led by Peter who recounted his stories of trying to escape East Berlin. He tried 3 times, the third attempt of which he succeeded. Providing this historical context is extremely important to us at Ride and Seek and the personal experiences of Peter had us hanging on his every word. ” Dylan Reynolds

4. Lunching like a king from Paris to St Petersberg (Napoleon Tour)

 “The Napoleon tour has many picnic’s, being a little more off the beaten path. For me the highlight of this tour was the superb picnic’s prepared with love by Colette. We pride ourselves on great picnics, but I think Colette’s really are something special.” Gabriel Donati

5. Exquisite dinner overlooking an archaeological marvel, Agrigento, Italy (3 Islands Tour)

“As part of the Three Islands tour, we visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily. The Valley of the Temples is an archaeological site with the remains of seven temples in the Doric style. Our sunset dinner at Villa Athena for me is magical, enjoying a Sicilian feast overlooking this extraordinary historical site. It’s a dinner that remains long in my tour memories.” Richie Mitchell


6. A spa with an extraordinary view, Japan (Samurai  Tour)

“One of the best things about cycle touring in Japan is the Onsen (spa) culture. Nothing soothes the muscles like a soak in the onsen after a long day in the saddle. It is even better when this is combined with a great view like our hotel near battleship rock on the Noto Peninsula.” Ben Weigl

7. Sunset dinner overlooking Lake Como, Italy (Caesar Tour)

“What an awesome way to start the tour. Our Caesar custom tour starting from Como took the funicular to Brunate for a sunset dinner and drinks. It was a beautiful evening, great food and wine and great company. It made for a truly memorable start to the tour.” Chris Small

8. A Catalan feast and memorable spot for a historical chat in Madremanya, Spain (Hannibal Tour)

“An outstanding tour memory for me is the family-run boutique hotel in Madremanya at the start of the Hannibal tour. Before an incredible tasting menu (off the scale delicious!), as the guests enjoyed a local wine, I weaved the story of Hannibal’s extraordinary exploits, and how he shook Rome’s foundations to the core.” Ben Kane


9. Spontaneous swimming on the Tatsukushi Coast, Japan (Samurai Tour)

“Arriving at a pretty beach on the Samurai tour, we grabbed our swimmers out of the van and dove in the surprisingly warm sea for a dip. Some of us paddled in our kit, some of us swam far out to sea. It was a moment of freedom and embracing simple pleasures. And to top it off, the stop was planned to have access to a shower and change facilities, followed by a beautiful morning tea of matcha cake, fresh cut-up fruits, energy bars, and hot tea and coffees.” Meg Reynolds

10. A superb slow food dinner in an Albanian Agriturismo (Marco Polo Tour)

“Scouting is usually a very busy time with not much time for sitting down to a proper meal. This year, Dylan and I scouted the Marco Polo tour and found a gem. We have always embraced the ‘Slow Food’ ethos so finding an agriturismo in Albania with a ‘slow food’ menu was both surprising and exciting. The Agriturismo hotel was once used to intern political prisoners but now provides employment for many in the local community. And the food was incredible. We can’t wait to take our guests back there in 2020 to eat and stay.” Marcello Usala

What were your favourite travel moments of 2019? Share your thoughts in the comments

Europe’s 6 Best Coastal Bike Rides | Ride and Seek

Europe’s 6 Best Coastal Bike Rides

There is no better feeling than grabbing your bike and hitting the open road on a journey that could last for days – taking in the scenery, getting to know the land and its people, exploring the world in a way that is different from your day-to-day life.

Of course there is usually the question of where to begin. What better way than to look at the map and decide to follow the coast? Europe has a lot of coast to explore however, so here are some of our picks for the best coastal bike rides in Europe!

The Atlantic Road

A country that truly understands the spirit of the sea – Norway is a great place to explore life on the coast. There are a number of stunning coastal rides throughout the country, but one of our favourites is the Atlantic Road up in Northwest, Fjord Norway. 

The Atlantic Road stretches 80km between Kristiansund and Bud and winds through a string of islands that are connected by 7 bridges. At times you will find yourself riding with the sea on both sides of you and you can truly feel at one with the elements. The journey isn’t considered especially challenging as there are no difficult inclines to contend with so this is a journey in which you can sit back and just enjoy the beauty around you.

The Crossroads of the Mediterranean

At the other end of the continent is another spectacular bike ride – a three island bike tour that takes you from Corsica to Sardinia and then on to Sicily. This journey takes in wildly different landscapes. In Corsica you can enjoy the contrast between its impressive mountainous north and the calm beaches and small fishing villages further south. Sardinia boasts striking cliffs and secret beach coves whilst Sicily is an island of fire and farmland – its volcanic soil making for fertile and rich landscapes.The three islands together will provide you with a real insight into the heart of the Mediterranean. Whilst they each have their own unique histories they also have a shared history which makes a Three Island Bike Tour a must, although a shorter journey can be arranged with Ride and Seek.


Staying in southern Italy, one of the most stunning bikes rides you can do in Europe is through the gorgeous region of Puglia. Following the craggy coastline you can travel to, and explore, charming villages that are each wildly different from the others. Delve into the white walls of Ostuni, venture through the trulli of Alberobello and marvel at the dwellings carved into the rock faces of Matera. Not only will you discover a tangled and rich history here, but you will be blown away by the cuisine. Because, of course, no coastal bike ride is complete without some excellent seafood to help you regain your strength. Ride and Seek have prepared a bike tour that is as relaxing as it is fascinating.

The Istrian Peninsula

Another must, if you want to explore European coastlines, is to bike through the Istrian Peninsula. You can adventure down the beautiful east and west coasts of Croatia, travelling through antique villages and postcard perfect towns, as well as down through magnificent valleys that will have you meandering alongside rivers and through leafy forest… this is a rich landscape! 

The bountiful nature will also provide succour as the Istrian Peninsula is all about rich flavours, good wine from local vineyards, and full bodied olive oil from the Istrian olive groves. And the culture is as rich as the food, with a coastal tour taking you through not only medieval history but also taking you back to a time when the Roman Empire dominated the region.

EuroVelo 10 – The Baltic Sea Cycle Route

The EuroVelo 10 cycling route is a loop that takes you through nine countries and all the way around the Baltic Sea. This is a journey of a lifetime that will take you through a wealth of cultures, landscapes and adventures. You will get to experience Europe in a way that few can boast, moving from one fairy-tale setting to another. What’s ideal about the route is that you can pick any spot on it as your starting point and you can go as far as you like. It’s a journey you can always come back to and it is perfect for people that enjoy being immersed in nature, history and different cultures. 

The EuroVelo routes are all signposted so this is a route that can easily be self guided as long as you’re prepared.

Marco Polo Tour – Venice to Athens

One of the most ambitious cycling projects Ride and Seek has ever created is the Marco Polo Tour – a journey that follows in the footsteps of the famous explorer taking you from Venice all the way to Beijing! And if you are interested in the best coastal bike rides in Europe then the first leg of this journey is for you. 

Venice to Athens is an epic 29 day journey that winds through five countries, giving you a wonderful experience of life in the Balkan Peninsula. This journey is split into two stages: Venice to Dubrovnik – an island hopping journey down the Dalmation coast, and Dubrovnik to Athens – a challenging and charming ride through Montenegro, Albania, Corfu and Greece. It’s a ride like no other, and it takes its rightful place on our list of the 6 best coastal bike rides in Europe. 
So there you have it. A mix of journeys through varied landscapes and of varied difficulty, but all of them basking the glory of the sea. If any of our bike rides took your fancy, or if you are interested in creating the perfect cycling adventure just for you then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Ride and Seek is always ready to go on the next great journey!

The 5 Best Cycling Routes in the World | Ride and Seek

The 5 Best Cycling Routes in the World

Any list of the ‘best’ cycling routes in the world comes with a certain level of audacious confidence. To say these five routes beat out all others is to say that we have cycled every route worth cycling in the world and that we have enough authority to judge which is best. Of course, we haven’t cycled everywhere, but we are better qualified than most to judge as Ride and Seek has embarked on countless epic cycling trips all across the world. We have taken the roads less travelled and the roads most travelled, covering many thousands of miles of countryside, coastline, and cityscapes. When we created our Epic Cycling Tours, we created what we believe to be the best cycling routes in the world, and we’d like to share our top five with you today. If anything we write here inspires you and you’d like to know more, get in touch and please feel free to sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of the page if you’d like regular informative and inspirational cycling guides.

The Hannibal Route – Cycle from Barcelona to Rome

We’ve found our Hannibal tour from Barcelona to Rome to be a very easy experience to sell to cyclists. What cyclist with adventure in their heart doesn’t want to cycle through Spain, France, and Italy, following in the footsteps of Hannibal, the Carthaginian general who famously brought the fight right to the doorstep of Rome? This 32-day epic cycle covers 2527km (1570mi) across some of the most iconic cycling routes in Europe. Put all of these routes together and you have one of Ride and Seek’s most popular epic cycles ever. Cycle Montseny National Park, the Pyrenees Mountain Range, the Alps (Ventoux, Galibier, Alpe d’Huez, Agnel and Izoard, among others), the Apennines, the postcard beauty of Tuscany and Umbria, finishing in Rome. This summary doesn’t begin to do justice to the full depth and beauty of this cycling route; find out more about our Hannibal Cycling Tour from Barcelona to Rome.

The Napoleon Route – Cycle from Paris to Saint Petersburg

Cycle for 36 days, covering 3702km (2300mi), from Paris to Saint Petersburg. We completely understand if the sheer scale of this cycling route intimidates some readers; it’s no trifling journey to take without adequate fitness and preparation. But that’s where our expert guides come in. Not only will we offer advice on what preparations you should make, we will take care of all the accommodations and travel logistics. All you need to do is get fit and bring as much enthusiasm as you can. And when you see the stunning landscapes, forests, and cityscapes, you won’t struggle to feel enthused! This epic route weaves through France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Russia. Read more about our Napoleon Cycling Tour from Paris to Saint Petersburg.

The Appalachian Bike Trail – Cycle from Maine to North Carolina

When people contemplate the great bike routes, they usually picture central Europe and the Mediterranean. And Europe has clout for a reason. But North America has some of the most epic cycling routes in the world and this Appalachian route is our favourite the continent has to offer.  This trail takes place throughout the Great Appalachian Valley, beginning in Maine and ending in North Carolina, and what a journey it is! Cycle from the rural charm and verdant farmland of New England, through some of the most important places in the US Civil War, and then you’ll enjoy epic vistas on some of the predictably hillier sections of the Appalachians. You will start in Maine, moving through New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and then North Carolina. This is a 28-day odyssey through one of North America’s biggest mountain ranges, covering 2272km (1412mi), and we can promise that you’ll never see the same sight twice! Find out more about our Appalachian Bike Tour from Maine to North Carolina.

The Silk Road – From Venice to Athens

Marco Polo is one of history’s most famous explorers and we believe that this leg of his legendary silk road journey evokes part of the epic distance he travelled. Whereas many bike tours focus on France and Central Europe, this journey snakes southeast, along the breathtaking Dalmatian Coast, then past Montenegro and Albania before reaching Greece. Of course, these ancient roads have been modernised, but there is still a sense of their history as you cycle dozens of miles each day. The journey through Greece visits the island of Cofu, Ioannina, Meteroa, Makrakomi, and Delphi. This tour lasts just 12 days, making it shorter than the other adventures on this list, but it is still a truly epic journey, both in terms of distance as well as through history. Read more about our Marco Polo Venice to Athens Bike Tour.

Cro Magnon – 19-day Cycling Tour of France

While one of the tours above travels through part of France, it simply wouldn’t be right to make a list of the best cycling routes in the world without a trip that focused solely on the idyllic French countryside. Since the first Tour de France in 1903, the country has been better associated with cycling than any other nation. France is an ancient country, with a rich history to explore. However, we decided to go back even further than you might imagine, to the cro magnon cave art scattered throughout southern France. Connect with humanity’s distant past on this epic 19-day cycling tour from Chauvet to Perpignan, very much taking the long way, veering off the obvious paths. You will cycle 1244km (722mi) of idyllic French countryside, but you will also taste the incredible local cuisine and sample some of the best wines in the world. This is a true voyage of discovery, in every meaning of the word. Find out more about our Cro Magnon Cycling Tour of France.

Guest Testimonials from the Original Hannibal (2012)

Our First-Ever Hannibal Testimonials (2012)

Hannibal 2012 Pioneers – Josh, Stephen, James, Andy, Bob and Steve.

Josh Robinson (Stage 1 – Barcelona to Avignon)

What a journey it’s been so far. Some of us only have a few days to go. Some are going all the way to Rome in Hannibal’s footsteps. All of us are loving every minute, every hill, every vista, every descent, every espresso stop, and certainly every carb-packed dinner.

We’re all here because we want more than a bike ride – we want an adventure. We want to push things a bit. We enjoy not knowing what’s around the next corner. We like dropping ourselves into a new scene and seeing what happens. Fortune favours the brave.

The cycling, through some of the most beautiful landscape many of us have seen, is what gets us up in the morning. But it’s the people that get us through each day.  Whether its the perfectly-timed snack stops or the words of encouragement, friendly rivalry and good dose of humour from our fellow riders. It’s the people that keep the legs pumping and the wheels turning.  Up until a few days ago we were strangers. Now, thanks to a great journey, we’ve become friends.

With Ride & Seek you don’t just discover new places. And the learning doesn’t stop with Hannibal and his elephant-powered crusade. You find out something new about yourself and about other people too. Not bad for a bike ride!

The Epic 4! – Barcelona to Rome

Hannibal cycling tour
The Originals! From left – Dylan, Bob, Stephen, Jason, Terry and Sam

Jason Langer (one of the original 4!)

“It is a rare thing to experience something that changes your perspective on life permanently; even more rare when that something is a choice, and not a challenge that life has forced upon you.

In 2012, the Hannibal Tour, led by Dylan and Sam at Ride-and-Seek, did just that – it changed my perspective on life.  I started the tour with very high expectations – to see the best of Europe, to make friends, to challenge myself physically.  What it achieved was well beyond this.  The Hannibal Tour covered some of the most extraordinary landscape I will ever see, including times when I truly was on top of the world.  Meeting the physical challenge of 26 days of cycling – when I have never in my life before been a “cyclist” – has left me with an incredible belief that anything is possible in life.  I have made lifelong friends from across the globe.  On this tour, I felt more alive than I had since I was a kid.  We all laughed hard, ate and drank like kings, and at the top of the Alps I cried with joy.  And all this, from the seat of a bicycle.

Ride & Seek did a faultless job running the tour – from the hotels to the food, the support, the hire bikes and the incredible history of Hannibal along the way, I cannot imagine how it could have been executed any better.  They were both professional, dedicated, friendly and supportive.  Their experience shone through and is their greatest asset. I already have my next Ride-and-Seek tour planned, and it won’t be the last.”

Jason Langer rode the Hannibal Epic in 2012 and neither he nor we as guides quite knew what to expect as he only learned how to ride a bike 3 years before! We are often asked how hard the Hannibal tour is and whilst the espresso grading system provides clear parameters the subjectivity involved makes it hard to give a definitive answer. One thing for sure though is that we now have Jason to use as an example for all future riders who have doubts. With no experience of multi-day riding, Jason proved to be an inspiration to us all and seeing Jason get to the top of Col Agnel (2744m) was an amazing tour highlight.

Hannibal Cycling - Col Agnel
Jim looking back from the top of Col Agnel