In 2001, Andre Volkel decided to undertake his first major cycle tour, a mere 200 miles from the Black Forest to Munich. After 2 days of snow and freezing temperatures, Andre gave up! However, undeterred in 2005 he set up Mercurio Bike Travel, a company which offers glorious guided cycle tours to English speakers in Germany and Austria. The tours are mainly along rivers, where the cycling is relatively easy and comfortable. Currently tours along the Moselle, the Danube, the Elbe and the Rhine are available. Each day a group of 8 to 15 cyclists are accompanied by a local guide, cycling about 25 miles a day. Their luggage is transported by the support team to each hotel on the route.
Over the last 20 years cycling along dedicated paths has become very popular in Germany. The routes are well maintained and the German Cycling Federation reports that a person could spend a lifetime of holidays on cycling paths. Interestingly Mercurios clients are mainly from the UK, with Americans, Canadians, the Irish and South Africans also participating. Nearly all the cyclists are over 45, with the eldest being over 80, and also a few teenagers joining their families.
Andre is very keen that his clients not only enjoy pleasurable cycling along scenic routes but also have the opportunity to find out about and engage with the traditions and culture in the region they are visiting. And therein lies the beauty of cycling by rivers, which have long been the location of villages and towns. Every day there is a town tour, visit to a vineyard or cultural monument to see, often near the nights accommodation. The hotels Mercurio uses are often privately owned and family run, which affords a much more personal touch, with friendly service. And, of course, a real chance to meet local people who are knowledgeable about their region. Andre feels this is what brings his highly satisfied clients back time and again, the sense that they are experiencing the real Germany or Austria, rather than hurtling through pretty countryside without exploring and experiencing the culture.
New routes are added to the portfolio each season, the latest being assessed for 2012 is beside the Bavarian Lakes with the Alps in the background. It sounds glorious, a beer garden beckons with good company, and the rewarding tingle of having exercised in wonderful surroundings.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Mercurio Bike Travel.