Bikes & Boats: Some Of My Best Tours Have Been On A Bicycle, Here’s How To Have Yours | Travel Research Online


Bikes & Boats: Some Of My Best Tours Have Been On A Bicycle, Here’s How To Have Yours

Did you know that many river cruise boats carry bicycles on board for guests to use? The bicycles are (or should be) well-maintained and capable of fitting guests of all sizes. Your ship often will have helmets and, of course, a liability form for you to fill out. If you’re squeamish about wearing a helmet that someone else has worn, carry your personal bike helmet. Simply strap it onto the outside of your carry-on luggage so that it doesn’t take up precious space inside your luggage. Or pack a foldable helmet. You’ll need to ask your local bike shop or do a web search for those.

Nearly all ships carry “old-school” bikes, with upright handlebars and a bell for you to ding when passing pedestrians on shared bike paths and greenways. Europeans are generally bike-savvy and bike-aware, meaning that even automobile drivers look out for you. Contending with cars, however, is usually not a problem because Europe has thousands of miles of dedicated bike roads, and many of those roads are along the rivers that you’ll be river cruising.

Having access to a functioning bicycle makes it easy to straddle a saddle for an adventure on your own. If you’re not comfortable with that, many cruise companies offer guided bicycle tours, at no extra charge. These are good options for folks who feel more secure riding with a group – and a group leader who’s sure to get you back to the ship in time for lunch.

I’ve done both types of riding, independent and group, and I have even taken it up a notch by traveling on AmaWaterways with Backroads, which bills itself as “The World’s #1 Active Travel Company.” Backroads uses the ship as its luxury boutique hotel and stages tours each day from the ship.

One of my best trips ever was in 2016, while traveling with my son Alex as we cruised the Danube on AmaSonata with Backroads delivering each day’s cycling adventure. You can see the joy in our faces in the photo below. Read the story here, En Route To AmaSonata, By Bicycle With Backroads Along The Danube.

En route to AmaSonata with my son Alex on a Backroads adventure. ‘Dad.’ Alex said to me during the ride above, ‘this could be our best trip ever.’ © 2016 Ralph Grizzle

I’ve pedaled along the Rhine, the Rhone, the Danube, the Seine and in the Bordeaux region. AmaWaterways and Avalon Waterways have taken me on many of these cycling adventures. Both companies realize the importance of active excursions, and their bikes have always been in great shape when I rode them. Both companies also offers guided tours, as mentioned, at no additional charge.

Saddling up to tour Rouen. © 2016 Ralph Grizzle

On one cruise, with Tauck, I pedaled 60 miles from Passau to Linz. That was a memorable – and exhausting – day. The beer that I had in Linz as I watched the ship pull in was as good as it gets. On that river cruise, other guests began to notice how much fun I was having and wanted to join me. The story of one guest who did just that is worth reading at the link below.

As a means of exploring along the rivers, bicycling can be efficient and rewarding. But the bike is also a means of therapy, mentally and physically, and we could all use a little therapy, right?

This is November in France? Photo by Mike Louagie

Five years ago, at the tender age of 60 😂, I was diagnosed with bone-on-bone arthritis in my right knee. My knee bothered me when I hiked, particularly downhill, but never, ever even hurt a smidgen when I biked. No matter how hard I pushed the pedals, my knee was compliant and complicit. In fact, it felt as though cycling were healing me.

Sure, one day I will need knee replacement, but bicycling is helping me kick the can down the road, and I’m all for kicking cans down roads – or maybe a more apt metaphor, pushing the pedals down the river.

This article was originally published at River Cruise Advisor.

An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at and

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