Mountain bikes rarely tackle anything more demanding than a muddy towpath, says Tim Moore in the Financial Times. But the Canvas Hotel, a yurt retreat in a lonely corner of Norway, is an ideal place to experience the real thing. The landscape is “a mountain biker’s fantasy”. On his trip, Moore flew “across chuckling streams and up heathery dales… through thickets of pine and birch… and with a reedy whoop and whitened knuckles, I swoop down and up a pendulous Indiana Jones rope-bridge laid over a bouldered chasm”. He also “falls off quite a lot”.
But it’s not all hard work. On your return from a day’s biking you’re introduced to the dining marquee, where Desmond Ngoni, the “gregarious Zimbabwean chef”, introduces his evening menu.
The hotel also has just the thing to nurse scrapes and bruises. “One afternoon disappears in the sauna tent, and another is swallowed up in one of the steaming lakeside baths.”
• From £367 including full board – See CanvasHotel.no/English
The Majorcan town of Pollença is a Mecca for cyclists, says Oliver Gill in City AM. The island is “glorious, with only the odd goat threatening to cause mischief for cyclists on the long descents that follow sweat-inducing climbs”. Cycling tour operator Velusso will take you there and combine “a luxurious break with a darn good workout” by organising bike tours for you alongside a professional cycling coach.
After a day’s riding, tailored to your ability, you return to the firm’s villas, situated just outside Pollença. These have “fantastic” views of the old port town and the mountains, a masseuse is on hand to soothe aching muscles, and a “local star chef” prepares dinner. Velusso’s cycling tours “strike a great balance” – you get enough exercise to “justify eating well and rewarding yourself with a couple of drinks”.
• From £1,195 for four nights – see Velusso.co.uk
“We freewheeled out of the courtyard of the Château de Chissay, where we’d spent the night and eaten a memorably delicious meal,” says Marcel Theroux in The Daily Telegraph, who was on a four-day cycling holiday with his wife, “pootling” through the Loire Valley. “It was the château of a fairy tale, all echoing donjons and ancient gargoyles.”
“Just beyond Chisseaux, we took a path through a deep forest to an enchanting view of the Château de Chenonceau (pictured above), whose two-storey bridge over the Cher is one of the emblematic images of the region.” The tour finished up at L’Aubinière at St-Ouen-les-Vignes, where you are reunited with your luggage. Before dinner, try the spa – it is “heavenly”.
• From £1,149 for the six-night Loire Gastronomic Cycling trip – See Headwater.com
Fatbiking at a Californian ski resort
“Fatbikes – so named because of their comically thick tyres – are the latest trend in cycling,” says Merope Mills in The Guardian. “They look like the monster trucks of the biking world and are designed for riding on surfaces you’d think would be impossible to cycle on, such as sand and, in particular, snow.” Tahoe Donner in California is a downhill and cross-country skiing resort that has recently bowed to pressure in opening up some of its trails to fatbiking.
“I found myself gently bobbing up and down, marvelling at how it felt no more difficult than cycling on a street,” says Mills. “At this point, as we slipped between freshly snow-dusted white pines, it all seemed beautiful and effortless”, but things got harder further on. Tahoe Donner is stunning – “plus, when you’re hopelessly out of shape and unable to quite complete the trail on your fatbike, you can always blame it on the altitude.”
• $16 an hour for bike hire plus $19 a day for the trail pass – TahoeDonner.com