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It's a great feeling to ride off on a two-wheeled week-long trip under your own power. But what goes on before your feet hit the pedals isn't always so fantastic: There are heavy panniers to pack and carry, chains to grease, routes to chart, reservations to make, maps to crinkle and tear and by the time your cycling holiday begins, you need a break.
For once, check that DIY attitude at the door. Let someone else work out the details and hoist the portmanteau. All you have to do is ride and enjoy.
From September 18-23, Cycle Ventures International offers a guided spin through the rolling hills and picturesque valleys of southwestern Wisconsin on Europe in Your Backyard II – a five-night, six-day bike tour. Communities with German, Swiss, Cornish, Scandinavian, Irish, French and Italian heritage line the route, and at every stop cyclists can celebrate Wisconsin's rich ethnic European roots in architecture, language and cuisine.
Here are a few highlights of the trip: The first riding day of the tour begins in Fitchburg, rolls on through Paoli – a small, friendly community that's a favorite with cyclists – and ends in New Glarus (America's "Little Switzerland"). Riders can visit the New Glarus Brewery and the Huber Brewing Company in Monroe, to savor Old World European-style beers and ales. On following days the tour explores Wisconsin's early history in Mineral Point and enjoys a concert in Wisconsin's first opera house, takes in the fabulous fall vistas in and around Dodgeville, and skirts the high plateau of Iowa County, where Norwegian delicacies await at Little Norway.
The length of each day's route varies, from 25 to 55 miles per day. The leisurely pace allows the 125 riders the tour can accommodate to get acquainted along the way. All the routes have been ride-tested by the tour organizers, and each day riders will be given written directions with maps; no spoke-busting pothole or unexpected detour will sneak up on you. If your equipment does let you down, experienced bicycle mechanics in a rolling bike shop and a multi-van SAG support system ensure no rider will be left behind. Make a purchase at shops en route? No problem. Concierge service will provide packing and shipping to anywhere in the world.
At night, you'll pull up to deluxe accommodations in cozy inns and family-owned hotels. Your luggage will magically appear in your room. You'll shower, relax, enjoy the local food specialties for dinner, sleep well – and arise the next morning refreshed and ready to ride on to further adventures.
The best part of Europe in Your Backyard II: Proceeds benefit the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin and the Madison Senior Center.
The $850 fee includes lodging for five nights, five breakfasts, three dinners, a welcome reception, entertainment in New Glarus, Monroe, Mineral Point, Dodgeville, and a finale at Botham Vineyards & Winery in Barneveld.
For more details and to register, call Cycle Ventures International at 608/244-2432 or 800/546-8520, or visit Cycle Ventures International.