Bike rides among the safest vacations with the coronavirus pandemic


For Jake Hoeschler, it wouldn’t be summer without a multi-day bike tour.

Hoeschler, who rode with Hiking trip for nearly two decades touring the San Juan Islands in Washington state and Portugal, fingers crossed that he and his friends could roam Croatia’s island-dotted Dalmatian coast in September.

“I had to cancel a cycling trip to Italy in May because of the coronavirus,” said Hoeschler, a former ski racer with the US Olympic team. “But everyone in our group wants to take this trip.

“And if Trek Travel says we can do it safely, we’ll go,” Hoeschler said.

Tara Hitchcock said she felt the same about her provider of bicycle trips.

She made eight trips with Country roads, including trips to the island of Hawaii and Nova Scotia, and is planning a tour this fall with a small group of friends on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

“These trips are so much fun,” she said. “If we can do it safely, we will. It’s outdoors, outdoors, and I have no doubts that Backroads will do their best to keep us healthy. I have no doubt that every place we eat and stay will be clean.

And if they can’t cycle in Europe this fall, the two have said they will consider a nationwide tour of the West. (See the sidebar for the top 10 destinations.)

Tania Burke, owner of Madison, Wisconsin-based Trek Travel, said her company had canceled all trips to Europe until August, although it had started offering a number of tours from this. this month in North America, including Vermont, the California wine region and South Carolina. . She said her company plans to offer trips to Europe from September.

Burke said all scheduled visits are evaluated on a rolling 30-day basis. If customers decide not to participate in the trips they have booked, they have two options: they can cancel up to 48 hours before the start of a visit and change the date without a change fee, or they can apply the balance on any trip without an expiration date.

Burke said his company was following guidelines recommended by local health authorities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. The outfitter also works with partner hotels and restaurants to ensure they meet CDC recommendations for cleanliness and social distancing.

Trek Travel sends out a survey to all the hotels it deals with to ask them what actions they have taken and what standards they have in place.

“We then provide them with our checklist that meets our expectations,” said Burke. Guides meet with hotels before the start of the season for an inspection and to review their standards and company expectations, which focus on cleanliness, capacity, social distancing procedures, and the check-in and check-out process. departure, she added.

“We also have a guest and guide feedback process so that we can respond quickly to any issues that arise,” said Burke.

“We want to strengthen the confidence of customers who plan to accompany us, whether it is face coverings to the temperature measurement through the distance between us and the limitation of the number of people in the shuttles”, she said. declared. .

Trek Travel has eliminated additional fees – typically $ 500 per person – for private groups of six or more. It also added self-guided and four-day options to meet changing customer demand.

“Going forward, active travel is one of the best and healthiest ways to get out and see the world,” said Burke. “We believe that the trends will move away from big cities and more towards nature and the great outdoors. It bodes well for us when people feel better about going out. “

Tom Hale, who runs Berkeley-based Backroads, said his company began offering trips this month to several states, including Utah, Arizona, North Carolina and Wyoming. The company hopes to offer tours to Alaska and Florida by mid-summer.

Like Trek Travel, Backroads follows all CDC, WHO and local health guidelines. The company is also implementing new hygiene procedures.

A cyclist descends past Utah’s iconic red rock formations on Trek Travel’s Bryce and Zion National Parks bike tour.

(Trek Travel)

“Our attendants are trained in food handling safety,” he said. “In addition to wearing gloves, this year they will be wearing face coverings during all food preparation. We will also provide more take-out, alfresco dining options, and small tables at dinners where possible.

Todd Starnes, co-owner Cycling adventures, said tours are now offered in Oregon, Washington’s San Juan Islands, South Dakota’s Badlands and near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In the fall, the company will organize trips to Bryce and Zion National Parks in Utah, Valley of Fire in Nevada, and Valley of Death in California.

It also changes some routes to limit the use of shuttles. For example, the San Juan Islands trip began with a shuttle ride from Seattle to the archipelago.

“Now we’re going to cycle from North Seattle. This means we will be spending a day less in the islands, but we are avoiding the van time. And if we’re going to be in a van, we’ll limit it to six people in a 15-passenger van. “

Two trips in Oregon will now start in Portland, so no van shuttle will be necessary.

He said rental bikes are cleaned thoroughly with a solution of bleach or alcohol and water.

“We bought small hand sanitizers that attach to the handlebars so people have sanitizer on their bikes,” he said. “And we give everyone a buff like a face mask that they can pull off when they want or when we come into a town and they want to run into a store or something.

For cyclists who wish to take a tour alone or with their small group, the Adventure Cycling Assn., which has more than 50,000 members, helps cyclists plan their trips with maps covering more than 48,000 miles of cycle paths across North America. For more information, visit aventurecycling.org.

Here are 10 of the best multi-day cycling destinations in the West:

Santa barbara

Palm springs

Sonoma Valley

Napa Valley

Zion National Park, Utah

Crater Lake, Ore.

Columbia River Gorge: 1,000 miles

San Juan Islands, Washington

Glacier National Park, Mt.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Wyo.


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