Meet Kiwi!

Kiwi is our Partner Communications Officer here at Cycle Cities HQ in London. Originally from a small village in the North of England home to Britain’s most famous 19th century novelists (think ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Jane Eyre’), Kiwi moved to his now native New Zealand when he was 10.

10858362_915192491826962_1958042804164469533_nAfter studying a four year degree in Media Studies and Criminology in Wellington, he backpacked through seven South American countries before setting his sights on London. Prior to his current roles with Cycle Cities and London Bicycle Tour Company as Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator, Kiwi was working for TripAdvisor at their British base in Oxford, helping to detect and prevent fraud on their online platforms.

He has also worked for the New Zealand Department of Corrections in the Communications department, writing copy and press releases and researching and drafting news articles, and as an investment consultant in the mad world of property.

He is an avid photographer, reader, and writer in his spare time, and is currently working on publishing a novel; a Victorian thriller set in the North of England. He plays football and goes to the gym regularly, and loves to get away to travel; since the start of the year he has visited Denmark, France, Belgium, Spain, Menorca, the Canary Islands, and Estonia.19424475_1609400125739525_3558209540895626997_n

In his current role he manages the social media, customer reviews and relations, and general administration of the business at London Bicycle Tour Company. He contributes to the website’s image, and helps to write blogs and copy about London and cycling, while also acting as an Assistant Manager in the running of daily Operations at LBTC’s central London base.

For Cycle Cities, Kiwi assists Steve in daily administration of the business, as well as corresponding with the partners and helping to regulate the forum. He assists with the maintenance of the website and also works with Steve to scout for and sign up new partners around the world, while writing blogs and composing a monthly mailout for partners when he gets a chance!

Thanks for reading! To have a chat with Kiwi about any questions or queries you may have about the network or running the oldest bike tour company in London, get in touch with him at

kiwi@cyclecities.tours.

Cool Wheels: The Best Winter Excursions by Bike

It’s winter time again in the Northern hemisphere, meaning that many of us up here in the US and Europe are getting ready to hunker down for cold weather, frost-covered windows, and maybe even some snow! While the winter season does bring with it the festivities of Christmas and the New Year, in my opinion it’s also an important time for reflection and evaluation, and sometimes brings with it a case of the seasonal ‘blues’.

While winter is traditionally a quieter time for bike tours, I’ve put together below – in no particular order – a small selection of my top picks for bike tours to do during the winter season. From the big smoke to Berlin, to the sunshine of the other side of the world and topped off with a little Icelandic magic, this list has you covered. Beat the winter blues and get on your bike this December!

BERLIN, GERMANY

Berlin on Bike – “Berlin Winter Bicycle Tour

Duration: 3.5 hours

Distance: 15km

Price: 21E

Every Saturday at 11am from 18th November 2017

Berlin’s Winter Bicycle Tour starts out with a short ride around the neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg, with its gentrified “tenants barracks”, beautiful shops and cozy cafés, before heading straight on to the historical city center of Berlin with Schlossplatz (city castle), Dom and the baroque glory of Prussia’s kings. Berlin’s spectacular contemporary architecture, including the government buildings and the new central station – Hauptbahnhof – are en route, as are some of the last traces of the Berlin Wall.
 The guides provide plenty of background info on Berlin history and everyday life, and there are stops for hot tea or Glühwein (mulled, spiced wine – a German Christmas season tradition) on the way. Wrap up warm!

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

Reykjavik Bike Tours – “Classic Reykjavik Bike Tour

Duration: 2.5 hours

Distance: 7km

Price: ISK 7.500

Every Friday and Saturday at 11am between 1st December 2017 and 31st January 2018

The Classic Bike Tour of Iceland’s capital runs all year round, even in the winter. And, with an awe-inspiring display of natural landscape formations including geysers, volcanoes, snow-capped mountains and frozen lakes, Iceland is essentially a winter wonderland that must not be missed. The route includes stops including Ægissida (Reykjavik’s south facing beach), University of Iceland’s campus, Nordic House, Reykjavik’s Catholic Cathedral, Parliament   building, Reykjavik’s Old Harbour, Tjörnin City Lake, and the city centre, as well as the homes of some of Iceland’s most famous people!

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

London Bicycle Tour Company – “The Christmas Lights Tour

Duration: 3 hours

Price: £25.95

Daily at 3:30pm until January 6th 2018

As one of the only Christmas-themed bike tours in the world, the London Bicycle Tour Company takes full advantage of the capital’s impressive array of festive light displays for a night of wonder and Christmas cheer on two wheels. You’ll be equipped with a bike, a helmet (optional), lights, and a free Santa hat, before setting off through the Christmas markets on London’s Southbank. The tour goes at a leisurely pace with plenty of time to stop for photographs, and the guide will also be equipped with a boombox, blasting some traditional carols along with the classic Christmas hits. The tour heads across the stunning Gothic Palace of Westminster before entering the alleys of Kensington and Chelsea, where you’ll see how the upper-class live in one of the richest yet charming areas in the world. You’ll also witness the glowing displays of Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, and Covent Garden, before making your way back through Soho, Seven Dials, and finally over Waterloo Bridge, where a panoramic view of the twinkling city before you awaits.

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA

Cruising Cairns Bike Tours – “City Sunset Tour

Duration: 3 hours

Price: 69 AUD

Monday to Friday at 3:30pm (November – March)

The last inclusion on our list here is a somewhat left-field departure from the previous three snowy, cold, white winter excursions, as you take a trip halfway around the world to experience a bike tour ‘Down Under’. After all, what better way to escape the winter blues than to go somewhere that’s in the middle of its summer? On Cruising Cairns Bike Tours’ ‘City Sunset Tour’, you’ll experience the stunning scenery and incredible wildlife of the Wet Tropics through the eyes of a local in Far North Queensland, via a route that has been carefully created to maximise time, stopping locations and riding pleasure. Starting at Cairns Wharf, you’ll cruise through the city; along canals, into parks, down a bush track, up quiet streets, through dense mangroves and then down the Cairns esplanade bike path to the Marlin Marina in time for the sunset. Along the way, you’ll be offered different tastes and smells to evoke the senses, which are linked to the stories and facts being told. This trip captures the essence of Cairns while keeping you engaged, having fun, and being active!

Have you got a case of the winter blues? Write to Kiwi from Cycle Cities at kiwi@cyclecities.tours, and share a story about your best winter excursion by bike. In the meantime, I’m off to ride out into the sunset… catch you over the horizon!

Kiwi

Cycle Cities

Writer, Thinker, Freer

Meet Steve!

I’m Steve, the Director of Cycle Cities (cyclecities.tours).

I started Cycle Cities because I’m a passionate traveller.

I love big cities. I’ve always gravitated towards them. While I love a bit of nature (Scottish highlands are my top pick for that), I’m a connoisseur of a great city.steve

I spent a lot of my childhood in Sydney (2 hours south of where I grew up, Newcastle), and never found it too daunting or big. I liked going there. I liked the fact that you never had to visit the same place twice if you didn’t want to. There’s so much to explore. By 19, Sydney Brisbane and Melbourne were not big enough for me and the US was calling. I fell in love with San Francisco, Vegas and LA. At 23 I moved to London for the first time, unbeknownst to me at the time that it would become my home for the longer term.

Access to Europe was a big thing for me. My first weekend break was Munich, and there I saw a large group taking a bike tour around the city centre. I put that idea on my list. A month later I was cruising around Berlin on one as a tourist (My tour guide that day now owns the company and is one of my biggest competitors (hats off to him for inspiring me!)

Citybreaks and Europe trips abounded on the following years. Amsterdam, Warsaw, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Zagreb, Sarajevo. You name it, if it’s a big city in Europe, I’ve probably been there.

In 2009 I got a job as a tour guide at the London Bicycle Tour Company. I know what it’s like to be a customer, and a guide, and got a great feel for how to create and deliver the best guided bike tours. I moved into the business/sales side of London Bicycle tour company, and focussed on growing and managing the business as the second in charge below the owner, Rob Graham.

I started Cycle-cities.com a year later, as I had always been interested in territorial ‘travel’ alliances. Airlines have partner airlines in different destinations to help cross sell flights. Some tour operators had branches in different cities so that a happy traveller could go from city to city and continue to experience tours from the same company. I thought city bike tours could use this ‘international’ presence. Since then we’ve grown to a collection of 50 cities in dozens of different countries across three continents.

In the coming years I spent a lot of time in North America, working as a professional songwriter (stevekopandy.com) and travelling coast to coast, experiencing the best of New York, Chicago, Dallas, Vancouver, Detroit and LA many times over.polar

In 2015 I started to organise yearly ‘Powwow’s’ or ‘Symposiums’ for Cycle Cities partner companies to attend, in a different city each year. These conferences connected us all as a stronger network and continue to be successful. At the time of writing we have hosted three symposiums in 3 different cities (Berlin, London and Nice), and are looking forward to 2018 in Budapest!

cycle-cities.com was rebranded cyclecities.tours in 2016 as we focussed more on the guided tours market, and optimised our website for it’s appeal to the audience that was looking for exactly that.

I tour the UK in a Take That tribute band as well – I love to experience life, and I’m never bored. I’m never wasting time, and am always making connections with people all over the world.

I love travel, business, cycling, music, life, love and good red wine.

Now it’s my turn to show you the world.

I hope you enjoy your time at cyclecities.tours. Here you’ll find the world’s best bike tours, many of them hand picked by me.

Steve Kopandy

Cyclist, Singer, Cityboy.

cyclecities.tours

Travel Around the United Kingdom – It’s Easier Than You Think!

Ever fancied travelling the UK but been daunted by the distances, the towns with strange names, the innumerable counties, and the vast array of seemingly incomprehensible accents? (Don’t even get us started on the weather).

We can’t do anything to make Mancunians or ‘Brummies’ any easier to understand, but we can give you some good advice about travelling the UK, no matter how you choose to do it!

The UK is not really a big place. From top to bottom it’s about a 12 hour drive, or a two week bike ride! Transport options abound: check our suggestions out below!

Car:

The UK has a large network of motorways, most of which are toll free and easy to navigate. Most major cities in the UK can be reached from its capital London in around ten hours or less. Typical drive times in low traffic are as follows:

London to Birmingham: 2 hours

London to Manchester or Liverpool: 4 hours

London to Edinburgh or Glasgow: 6-7 hours

London to Cardiff: 3 hours

Allow extra time in school holidays or during busier peak traffic times like Friday nights, when a journey time can easily double due to congestion.

Car Sharing:

Bla Bla Car is the UK’s ride sharing website, and is also used in other countries around the world. Connect with other drivers going in a similar direction by typing in where you want to travel to and from, and when, and contribute a nominal fee towards journey costs – far less than what you’d pay travelling by bus or train, or in costs taking your own mode of transport.

Train:

The UK has an extensive train network. Travelling by train is faster than by road, and the trains on British tracks are typically comfortable and offer a wonderful view of the UK’s signature rolling green fields, animals and isolated farmhouses when travelling through the open countryside. Typical journey times are as follows:

London to Birmingham: 1-1.5 hours

London to Manchester or Liverpool: 2 hours

London to Edinburgh or Glasgow: 4-5 hours

London to Cardiff: 2 hours

The trains are run by private companies so different destinations will be served by different train operators. For example, London to Manchester is operated by Virgin Trains, while London to Sheffield is East Midlands Trains and the London to Cardiff route is serviced by First Great Western. While this seems like it could get complicated, there is no need to know which company to buy a ticket off- simply head to nationalrail.co.uk and enter your origin and destination, choose your train, and you will be directed to the correct operator’s site with the ticket in your shopping basket. Easy!

Booking in advance will save you a lot of money, especially if you are travelling outside peak times such as after 11am weekdays, and anytime on the weekend. If you’d prefer having extra flexibility or just don’t like booking things in advance, there are generally always tickets available at the station on the day – just make sure you buy them from the train operator’s machine that you are travelling with and not a different one, or the price may be higher.

If you’re going a long distance and fancy the opportunity to have a snooze en route, there are two sleeper services that operate in the UK. – the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Fort William in Scotland, and the Great Western Sleeper from London to Penzance in Cornwall.

Trains are also good for those transporting bicycles. Most long distance trains can take bicycles free of charge as long as they are pre-booked.

Air:

I favour train over air travel as by the time you get to and from the airport at each end, clearing security (and making your cheeky airport purchases) you have wasted hours. You might consider a flight from London to the North of Scotland to Inverness, but anywhere else is not really a distance to make a flight a better option. Still, if you prefer to take to the skies as your preferred mode of transport, most cities in the UK are serviced by an airport and flights usually aren’t too expensive.

Coach:

National Express is the UK’s equivalent to Greyhound, serving towns and cities all over the country for low prices. Save money when booking in advance via their website.

MegaBus is another operator with extensive schedules, and even a ‘sleeper coach’ overnight service between London and Scotland. The sleepers are comfortable, quiet, and somewhat novel, and you can usually pick up a bed for £50 a couple of days in advance of travel.

Check out snap.co.uk for other fares and to find out more about travelling by coach in the UK.

Bicycle:

The UK has a LOT of country roads. Sustrans has a multitude of cycle routes mapped out all over the country, so definitely head there to start planning your cycling journey. The UK is highly populated for its size so you won’t have to cycle for more than 10 miles before you come across at least a small town, so you’ll never be stuck in the middle of nowhere!

The Carter Company provide great guided cycle rides in different areas of the UK and can also design custom-made bespoke routes that fit the desired specifications for your journey. London Bicycle will rent you a Touring Hybrid bike, good for multi-day journeys, and to this you can add waterproof Ortlieb panniers to make sure you can carry your luggage around with you safe and sound. Some of the Carter Company’s rides also include luggage transport – enquire beforehand!

If You’re Breaking a Sweat, You’re Going Too Fast

Steve and I were in London the other day, sitting down and having a chat at a roadside cafe, when a line of fluorescent jacket wearing, lycra-clad cyclists with expensive bikes and toe clips went fizzing past along the road, faces contorted in concentration and foreheads beaded with sweat.

Looking at each other, Steve and I began to marvel at the seriousness and intensity that the simple, wholesome joy of cycling can become drowned out in. You might notice, here at Cycle Cities, that we never talk about lycra, types of bicycles for racing, or serious riding. Or Lance Armstrong.

Yeah, we love bicycles – but in the way a kid loves a bicycle in summer, for kicking around, exploring, and hanging out with friends. We don’t take ourselves very seriously, and it underpins our attitude towards cycling, meaning we don’t really go in for the excessively competitive or ‘sporty’ branch of the pastime.

We want to get the message out there that cycling is fun and can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone and be engaged in wherever you find yourself in the world. Cycling is not reserved for MAMILs (‘Middle Aged Men In Lycra’), nor just the kids. Families, young kids, adults, grandparents – anyone can cycle. If you’re breaking a sweat, you’re going too fast.

All our bicycle tours give you the fun of the ride and allow you to look around, take a deep breath, and truly absorb the feel and character of the city that you’re in, without any kind of competitive feel.

We are the chilled side of cycling – no need for performance enhancers, protein supplements, or tight-fitting clothing. We ride like we walk; around in circles, just looking at stuff.

If you’re not much of a cyclist you’re exactly who we want to join us because you’ll enjoy it even more than people who are used to the experience – as a fun way to effectively and interestingly explore the most fascinating and enthralling elements of a new city.

And to prove that we aren’t too serious, you’re going to feel more like you’re in a tour group than on a bike ride. You might even forget that you are on two wheels when you’re distracted by the great stories your tour guide is telling you!

So keep it real, don’t let the MAMIL’s deter you, and head to cyclecities.tours and find your next incredible destination on the seat of a bicycle.

Kiwi (Rob Binns)

Partnership Manager/blogger/traveller

cyclecities.tours

The Seven Cleanest Cities in the Cycle Cities Network

Cleaning – for some a pain or chore, for others a relaxing therapeutic exercise. Regardless of whether we like to do it or not, cleanliness can make a huge difference to our enjoyment of a city when travelling, working, or just visiting for a holiday. Litter-free streets, a lack of graffiti, and clear, unpolluted air and water all contribute to the overall look and feel of the below cities. They are places that are leading the world in terms of their efforts to promote sustainable living, recycling, and supporting the environment, and they are all host to a Cycle Cities partner. The following list was compiled by myself after some light research – it is not intended to be exhaustive, only a rough guide for a bit of fun!

Here it is, then – the Seven Cleanest Cities in the Cycle Cities Network!

7) HONOLULU, UNITED STATES

With firm goals and promising governmental plans to reduce fossil carbon emissions, as well as conserving water and improving public transport, beach haven Honolulu is continuing to improve its cleanliness and environmental friendliness away from the American mainland. If you find yourself out there (jealous!) our partners Pedal Honolulu offer bicycle tours of this incredible city.

6) AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch capital and one of the world’s leading cycle hubs is, interestingly enough, one of the main reasons that has enabled it to become such a clean and green city to live and work in. Local government and organisations are helping to maintain and develop this status through a range of initiatives targeting at raising public awareness of litter and focussing on the importance of clean streets and water. To take a tour there, visit Webike Amsterdam for more information.

5) BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

‘Brizzy’, Australia’s third most populated city and largest by area, also seems to consistently be ranked among its cleanest, having been voted Australia’s Most Sustainable City in 2014 and 2016 at the Keep Australia Beautiful Australian Sustainable Cities Awards. With a range of green spaces, parks, nature reserves, and gorgeous beaches, Brisbane’s perfect for surfing, relaxing, and – a bicycle tour! Get in touch with Brisbane By Bicycle for the details.

4) PORTLAND, UNITED STATES

This Oregon gem is one of two US cities that make the list, and is recognised across the States and overseas as an environmentally conscious and friendly city, owing to its “high walkability, large community of bicyclists, farm-to-table dining, expansive network of public transportation options, and over 10,000 acres of public parks” (list25.com). Its government also publishes information regarding Portland’s impressive cleaning statistics in downtown areas. To check out the city on two wheels, contact our Cycle Cities partner there.

3) VIENNA, AUSTRIA

Vienna is regularly ranked as one of the cleanest and most liveable cities in the world. Its government and people are invested in the maintenance of environmentally friendly and sustainable measures, and the city has received great praise regarding its investment in waste disposal measures in recent years. A city of clean lines and even cleaner streets, take a bike tour there with Pedal Power.

2) REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

With some of the most incredible natural landscapes and sights in the world (such as the Northern Lights), Iceland is also almost effortlessly one of the cleanest and coolest countries in the world. It’s capital, Reykjavik (home to our partners Reykjavik Bike Tours) did not see any urban development until the 19th, and thus sits third on our list here with basically no pollution.

1) HAMBURG, GERMANY

Drum roll please…. Germany’s second biggest city and verifiable cycling valhalla Hamburg takes number one spot on our list of the cleanest cities in the Cycle Cities network! With plans to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050 and great cycling infrastructure that decreases a reliance on private vehicles, Hamburg leads the way in the sustainability stakes. Hamburg has also set in motion plans of an impressive scheme known as the ‘Green Network’, with the intention of being car-free in 20 years. All in all, it’s undoubtedly a great climate for cyclists – visit our partners Hamburg City Cycles for the lowdown and to book a bike tour there!

Congratulations Lars and Bakky – your city is the cleanest in Cycle Cities!

Thanks for reading, and never stop riding – see you next week!

By Kiwi (Rob Binns)

The Friendliest Bicycle Cities in the Cycle Cities Network

Hello everyone! Kiwi here, Partner Communications guy at Cycle Cities. Having been living in London for the last couple of years working for a bicycle tour operator, I’ve always been interested in bikes and how cycling interacts with and is part of the flow and make-up of a city.

Living in London, a city which has recently seen millions of pounds of investment go into previously unprecedented amounts of cycle tracks, paths, and superhighways, I always took London for granted as a relatively easy city to cycle in – but what about our European neighbours?

So, one late night here at Cycle Cities HQ, I began doing some research into what the most cycling-friendly cities in the Cycle Cities network are. I based my methodology and ultimate rankings on the The Copenhagenize Bicycle-friendly Cities Index 2017 and also incorporated their findings from previous years to get the best overview.

The results were to astound me – despite our best efforts in recent years, London isn’t there! After wiping away the tears and picking up my pen again, I made this list – the ten most bicycle-friendly cities in Cycle Cities!

10) BUDAPEST

With gorgeous scenic routes hugging the Danube and a quirky and cool inner city threaded with bike paths, Budapest is continuing to assert itself as a truly bike-friendly city. Plus, for the more adventurous cyclists, Budapest’s hilly terrain makes it great for mountain biking with some incredible views at the top! For a bike tour or rental, contact Yellow Zebra – they also do segway tours!

9) PORTLAND

Portland, Oregon has seen huge rises in the numbers of its population that are commuting by bike, and recently gained acclaim through its focus on helping the environment via encouraging alternatives to cars. This was evidenced most recently with the opening of the Tilikum Crossing, a bridge for trains, pedestrians, and cyclists – but not cars. To experience this cycle-friendly city, get in touch with our local partners at Pedal Portland.

8) BUENOS AIRES

With an excess of 140km of bike track, Buenos Aires, Argentina’s bustling capital (and a city close to my own heart) is forging a positive, cycling-friendly path forward for its Latin American neighbours. Buenos Aires’ flat surface and warm, breezy climate make cycling the perfect way to get around. Get in touch with our pals at Biking Buenos Aires for information about taking a tour.

7) HAMBURG

With it’s proliferation of canals, cycle paths, bridges, and hip inner-city neighbourhoods all tailor-made for a comfortable cycling experience, Hamburg joins its fellow German cities in helping to revolutionise how urban biking is seen and approached. For more information, Hamburg City Cycles are our Cycle Cities partner there and can offer bike rental and tours.

6) MUNICH

Cycling remains the most comfortable and easiest way to traverse Munich and the five kilometre radius around it, with around 1,200km of cycle path to traverse and an array of cycle maps to guide your way. The government has also facilitated the ease of travelling with a bike, and there are many options for taking bicycles on public transport and plenty of public cycle parking spaces. Get in touch with Radius Tours to explore the city and find out for yourself!

5) VIENNA

Like the other cities on this list, Austria’s capital, home to our partners Pedal Power, is steadily improving its cycling infrastructure. With 1,200km of cycling paths and segregated lanes for bikes, the city is beginning to assert itself among the well-established heavy-hitters of the cycling-friendly world. In addition, the Vienna Woods just outside the city provide great tracks for mountain biking.

4) BARCELONA

While lacking the same distinct cycling culture as some of the Nordic countries, Barcelona is a cycling-friendly city coming into its own, with the city’s mayor Ada Colau pledging 32 million euros up until 2018 to add more cycle lanes and increase bike parking. Bike paths run through gorgeous inner city areas yet also extend through Barcelona’s green areas and parks – tours and rental are available from our partners Bike Tours Barcelona.

3) BERLIN

Wide streets, cycle lanes built into all but the narrowest of pavements, ubiquitous cycle parking… all of these factors contribute to a city that has been very hospitable to cyclists for a long time now. Berlin’s municipality has aided this by allowing bikes to be taken on tubes and trains, and the police have helped – you only get fined for rule infringement on your bike if you cause an accident. Heading to Berlin? Get in touch with Martin and the team at Berlin on Bike for your bike tour or rental.

2) LJUBLJANA

At the business end of our list sits Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital and the domain of our partners Watermelon. The city was named the Green Capital of Europe last year and their commitment to building and maintaining an environmentally-friendly city is reflected by their positive attitude towards cycling and towards improving and expanding cycling infrastructure.

1) ANTWERP

Number One on our list is Antwerp, Belgium, home to our friends Antwerp by Bike and, having risen two places since the last Index in 2015, tops our charts of the most cycle-friendly cities in the Cycle Cities network. Cycling is widely accepted and encouraged by local authorities, and few wanderers in the Old Town bat an eyelid as cyclists roll through the cobbled streets or down narrow alleys. With modern design bike racks being implemented across the city and miles of brilliantly maintained cycle paths infusing the city, Antwerp is an embodiment and reflection of Belgian’s strong cycling spirit.

Cities in the Cycle Cities network with the most hours of sunshine per year

Having found myself on a beach recently in Binibeca, Menorca during a holiday with family, I lay back in the sand with paper in hand, tasked with the challenge of writing my next blog.

Chewing on my pen, staring up at the sky with the sun in my eyes, I was struck with an idea – what do people love more than the sun? Weather conditions and the amount of sunlight in a day can certainly make or break a bicycle tour and frustrate and stymie even the most resolute of cyclists. So, after some research and careful compilation of a list, here it is: the Top Ten cities in the Cycle Cities network, rated by the amount of sunshine hours their city gets in a year! The list features a pleasant mix of our partner cities from all over the world, with both the US and Australia being well-represented, in addition to some of the classic European holiday destinations that you’d expect. It was put together through various sources online, and is not intended to be entirely exhaustive/accurate – just a good rough guide for a bit of fun!
Before we get into the list though, here are a few Honourable Mentions – cities that just missed out on the list, but that can more than legitimately consider themselves ‘hot stuff!’

Barcelona, Spain – 2,591 hours, Rome, Italy – 2,473 hours, Melbourne, Australia – 2,362 hours, Istanbul, Turkey – 2,218 hours.aaab

10) SAN ANTONIO, UNITED STATES – 2,629 HOURS

Home to the legendary basketball side the San Antonio Spurs, San Antonio kicks of our list with over two and a half thousand hours of golden sunshine a year. The team at Bike World offer the best bicycle tours in the city.

9) AUSTIN, UNITED STATES – 2,643 HOURS

Capital of Texas, this Southern gem asserts its presence at number nine on the list in with an amount of yearly sunshine hours that mirrors its big personality (and even bigger hamburgers). Link up with Austin Bike Tours and Rentals if you’re in the area, and make the most of this booming city (and it’s incredible weather) with a bike tour!

8) CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA – 2,738 HOURS

Not to be confused with the setting of the famous French film festival, Aussie diamond Cairns is a gorgeous coastal city with a unique spirit and character. In addition to its 2,738 hours of sunlight per year, Cairns also boasts some of the most fascinating and iconic nature in the world, and is home to the famous Great Barrier Reef. After checking it out, dry off with a bike ride around the city with Cruising Cairns!

7) ATLANTA, UNITED STATES – 2,739 HOURS

This is where things start to really heat up. Home to my favourite show The Walking Dead and capital of Georgia, Atlanta narrowly pips Cairns to claim seventh spot on the list. If you’re a fan of aquatic life, head to the Georgia Aquarium, while the Atlanta Botanical Garden will appeal to those of a green fingered constitution. Cycle Cities partner Bike Tours Atlanta offer guided bike tours to cap off the perfect American excursion!

6) MADRID, SPAIN – 2,769 HOURS

Nestled at the very heart of Spain’s enormous landmass, Madrid is a city rich in culture and history. With its stunning architecture and vast array of enchanting inner city parks and royal palaces, Madrid is a city best explored on bike. Thankfully, our partners at Trixi have you covered, offering both bike rental and guided tours on two wheels.

5) LISBON, PORTUGAL – 2,806 HOURS

With a sandy coastline, numerous ancient castles, and a number of hills and winding roads, Lisbon is the ideal place for a cycling holiday under the sun. Our partners on the ground there – Lisbon Bike Tour – offer guided bicycle tours and will also be able to recommend great routes and tracks via which to explore this incredible capital city on Portugal’s southern shores.

4) MARSEILLES, FRANCE – 2,836 HOURS

Feeling hot yet? Marseilles, a southern coastal French city, in addition to its 2,836 hours of sunlight, offers culture and history in spades, boasting awe-inspiring cathedrals and a mesmerising Old Port. For a relaxing excursion in or around Marseilles, get in touch with our partners at Marseilles City Electric Bike Tour for bike tours, rental, and inspiration!

3) ATHENS, GREECE – 2,848 HOURS

While boasting almost 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and being an incredibly popular tourist destination, Athens isn’t just for the heliophiles – it’s the heart of one of the oldest and most influential civilizations ever to have graced the planet. The city is still full of remnants and tributes to a way of life that has captured hearts and ignited imaginations for centuries, with the Acropolis and the Parthenon still standing in reverence for the benefit of the excited traveller. Sound interesting? Take a tour with our partners Athens By Bike and soak up the history!

2) BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – 2,968 HOURS

As we get to the pointy end of our list, Steve’s very own Australia chimes back in with Brisbane, a fun and urbane city that doesn’t do too badly at all in the sunshine stakes, and that is also home to our Cycle Cities partner, the aptly-named Brisbane By Bicycle. Check out the surfing on the Gold Coast if you find yourself there, or go absorb yourself in the local culture by watching a rugby league match at the enormous Suncorp Stadium. Up the Broncos!17242_1321168425734_724912_n

Fair warning though: as its placing at Number Two on the list suggests, it is hot, so remember to apply the sunscreen liberally – as a demonstration, here’s a pic of me from about ten years ago looked perturbed, walking on the beach in Brissy and holding my new, neat pair of Australian jandals.

  1. SAN DIEGO, UNITED STATES – 3,054 HOURS

Sunny San Diego! With over a whopping 3,000 hours of golden rays per year, San Diego tops our list of the sunniest cities in the Cycle Cities network. With golden beaches, crystal clear waters, and an array of zoos, theme parks, and wildlife sanctuaries to keep all ages entertained, San Diego is one of the most popular US cities with tourists from around the world. To book a bike tour, reach out to Bike Ride San Diego to explore this hot, hot city via the seat of a bicycle,  with exclusive, high end bike tours that cover a variety of routes through and around San Diego.

That’s all from me for now – thanks for reading, and never stop riding!

By Rob Binns (Kiwi).

Who Runs the World?

Hello again, friends and followers of Cycle Cities! Kiwi here, with a new blog for the fitness fanatics out there. It’s been well documented through my blogs that I’m a passionate cyclist, but recently I’ve also discovered another love – running!

Growing up in Wellington, New Zealand, it wasn’t always the easiest landscape for getting into running – the house I grew up in was located on a ridge just over the crest of one of the steepest hills in the city – and it’s also officially the windiest city in the world! Hence, while I did enjoy the occasional run, it was never really something I’d gotten into until recently, a few weeks ago when my girlfriend roped me into going for a run with her.aaaaa

“Let’s go for five” she said, at which I snickered – “Five minutes? Easy.” We got our shorts and trainers on and set off for a run through the streets of North London, through surprisingly inviting and quiet roads lit by streetlamps, and darkening parks and grassy play areas (see pic of said run to the left)

Five kilometres and one hour later, and breathing heavily with legs like jelly, we returned. She’d captured the whole route, including our completion time and average speed, through an app called Strava, and I was pleased and proud of myself having pushed through a comfort zone on the run, despite feeling a lot like collapsing at the time! We started to make it a regular thing, running two to three times a week, gradually lengthening the distance and upping the tempo. And it feels great!

Of course, being involved with Cycle Cities, a dedicated team providing the best bicycle tours across the globe and a keen traveller myself, I started wondering about the options to see the world not only by bike, but on foot! While bike tours provide a unique and relaxing way of seeing the world, a running tour would be perfect for less-experienced runners like myself wanting to improve on their fitness, or more seasoned campaigners looking to meet people with similar interests and fitness goals, all while touring a city’s most iconic and historically significant sights!

Fortunately, my thoughts coincided with Steve and myself coming into contact with Raoul, founder of RunningTours.Net. Raoul’s goal, similar to what we do here at Cycle Cities, is to bring together the finest running tours the world has to offer, uniting them under the one ‘roof’ of his website, where running enthusiasts can view over 190 running tour organisations around the world and be taken directly to the website of each one through a single click, and view them all displayed on a world map.

With a layout that is easy to look at and a format which makes it easy to search for the city and country you’re headed to next, RunningTours.Net is a great place to start for the international traveller and runner. One of the website’s goals is also to provide more information on the concept of the running tour for the media and tourist organisations, and to support and foster communication and cooperation of various running tour companies around the world.

Steve and I met Raoul on the Southbank in London, and it was great to hear his ambitious plans for expanding the website, and hopefully for collaborating with us here at Cycle Cities also!

So if you’d like to get into running the way I did and see some of the world while you’re at it, head to Raoul’s website and check out the options for your first (or next!) running tour, whether it’s in Augsburg or Zagreb, Queretaro, Nairobi or London – no Wellington yet unfortunately though! Also, watch this space….!

Thanks for reading, I’ve run out of time for today but see you in a couple of weeks for my next blog on cyclecities.tours!

Cheers,

Kiwi
Cycle Cities

Milan: a Place to Be

Milano Bike Renting is a bike rental company, born from a Doctor and his Son’s passion for cycling.

We think Milan and Lombardy have so many possibilities to offer to cyclists.

First of all, Milan is home to some of the world’s most famous bike factories. Brands like Legnano, Cinelli, Colnago, Masi and Bianchi (the oldest known bike factory in the world) were all Milan based.

Moreover Milan is located in the center of the Lombardy region with it’s range of cycling routes and itineraries. From flat roads in the South to the highest European passes like Passo Stelvio, Passo Gavia and Passo del Mortirolo where the epic pages of cyclism were once wrote.

Explore the “Italian “Lake District”. Lago Maggiore, Lago di Como, Lago d’Iseo and Lago di Garda are all located in this region with endless itineraries and possibilities to discover on two wheels.

Close to Piemonte, some of the world’s most famous wines are produced (Barolo, Barbera,

Dolcetto) on smooth hills ideal for cycling, even in late Autumn.

If you prefer the sea, in only two hours it is possible to reach Liguria, on Mediterranean coast, where winter is usually temperate, and cycling is a pleasure even deep in winter!

With this incredible background, it seemed impossible to us that Milan didn’t yet have a bike company, so we decided to create one, and to offer everyone the possibility to “taste” Italy by bike.

From the Alps to Sicily, Italy is a treasure-trove of biodiversity, boasting an immense assortment of

climates, ecosystems and landscapes. Its geography makes it a bridge between north and south, east and west, and the peninsula is a busy natural thoroughfare crossed with scattered pockets of isolation.

Italy’s cuisine and Mediterranean diet are the culmination of this biological and cultural diversity.

On this basis we can offer you different options, from single day tours, weekend tours, or holiday weeks in some of our favourite places; Varenna (Como lake), Bormio (Valtellina at the feet of Stelvio and Gavia pass), Celle Ligure (Liguria, Mediterranean sea) and obviously Milan!

Our aim is to provide our customers with the best Italian bike experience, based mainly on a deep knowledge of our territory developed in almost thirty years of road cycling both in the Gran Fondo race and cycle tourism.

Cycling, avoiding congested roads, and discovering the food and wine heritage that makes Italy one of the most popular destinations for tourists all over the world, is our passion.

As the Expo 2015 logo says, Italy is “ ..a place to be!”