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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Active holidays: Why cycling tours in Goa are the new 'it' thing

Tiracol cycling tours

Enjoy an offbeat vacation with cycling tours in Goa

Let’s face it. All those Bollywood versions of Goa are quite frankly passé. You’ll want to reassess how you make your holiday memorable with something different.

We’ve all done the drink-till-you-drop party scene, and while we’re not saying we should completely sweep that under the carpet, we’re hinting at something more refreshing. Cycling in Goa, even during the monsoons, is definitely a thing you want to try.

You have to admit that cycling in itself is truly invigorating. Cycling in Goa, on the other hand, is a whole other level. Despite the strange temptation to describe this beautiful place as a city, it isn’t. It is 3,700 square kilometres of beaches + villages + forested hills + nature reserves, and the few odd towns thrown in. To a cyclist, this is heaven.

“In Goa, if you are on a scooter, you are too fast; if you are walking, you are too slow. Cycling offers the right speed to soak in the natural beauty around you. Goa is known for its lush green surroundings and cycling is the best way to experience it. Traffic on most roads is also limited, which gives cyclists a sense of safety as well,” says Rohan Nagarkar.

He should know. For the past three years, he and buddy Peter Rodrigues have been on their toes trying to keep up with the demand for bicycle rentals and cycling tours in Goa through their venture CyclingZens.

They offer a range of road bicycles, MTBs and hybrids for travellers who enjoy active holidays. Each week, they lead a bicycle tour of Chorao and Divar Islands. Other tours are on request and most are custom curated. This means you and your pedal buddies can tailor the tour as you like.

Rohan points out, “During the monsoons, our clients head towards the hills, so popular destinations are around Chorla Ghat and Valpoi. The lush green blanket urges everyone to explore the outdoors. Monsoon cycling brings out the free spirit in you.”

CyclingZens even operates out of Mumbai, so if you feel like you want to push it, you can cycle from the maximum city to minimum stress and either pedal back when you’re ready or cycle one way and take the easy way home.

For something a little less hardcore, The Bicycle Trip organises slightly more concentrated cycling tours. Focusing on areas easily accessible from Panjim, the host duo offer informative and engaging perspectives of the city, Old Goa and the islands nearby. And if you’d like a guilt-free vacation in Goa, choose the Dessert Crawl – a tour of Panjim’s exquisite vintage bakeries to sample all the local favourites.

Cycling in Goa during the monsoons brings an extra sense of adventure. All you need is a rain jacket and you’ll discover that the villages are quieter, the roads emptier and everything just a bit greener. Folks tend to stay indoors on Sundays and long weekends so you’ll pretty much have Goa all to yourself – well mostly!

Don’t forget to stop for a well-deserved snack at one of the local tea shops. The steaming kaanda bhajis (onion pakoras), samosas, vadas, mirchis (chilli pakoras) and chao (milk tea often flavoured with cardamom) taste almost divine in the cool, wet weather. Grab one of those deep-fried khajes (cream-filled bun) for an energy boost before heading on your way.

There are cycling tours in Goa no matter your fitness level or mood for the day. Heaps of folks are enjoying this beautiful state a different way. So take a chance – enjoy a truly wet and wild holiday in Goa, minus the hangover!

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