time they get in the way of his testosterone powered GTFI special. In addition unlike Britain where a lot of very minor roads were downgraded to zero-maintenance bridleways in the past, their continental counterparts are maintained and often improved. They offer an almost car-free environment. Just as an example: The organisers of the Paris Roubaix Road Race have to work hard every year to find enough cobbled sections along the route. Most of us however have no objection to ride away from motor traffic along smooth tarmac. Seriously though this doesn't mean you can afford to daydream, especially in the big cities where commuting cyclists are not pleased to see you stop in front of them to eyeball a cathedral or work out where to go. (They will tell you!) Weekends on cycle routes near major cities offer other joys: whole families including little Hans or Pierre on his Puky micro bike or being towed in a trailer, pensioners on their sit up and begs, lovers cycling hand-in-hand and lots of other touring cyclists. The facilities are excellent and enjoyable.
Navigation is also not a problem. Take your pick from dozens of routes. Mix and match! You can decide how you want to spend your holiday always going downhill, following the route of the Tour de France or enjoying an elegant sufficiency of minor hills.
Cycle touring is healthy. Cycle touring is an environmentally-friendly way of travelling. You have the moral high ground. You not burn fossil fuels. You travel relatively slowly, so you don't miss things. When you arrive in a town or city you can park the bike next to any post or fence. (Try that with a car!) Unlike walkers the bike carries the weight of your gear. You are out in the fresh air and you have been pumping iron all day, so you can have another beer, glass of wine or a larger portion of apple strudel in the evening. Families may find that their children are content to tuck into a promised ice cream sitting peacefully on the terrace. Even the lure of souvenir shops, vineyards and pottery salesrooms fades with your panniers already full. You are not one hundred percent fireproof because the family running the souvenir shop have been packing and sending stuff safely all over the world since Adam was a lad, but as a first line of defence it helps you make a break for the door.
Most of all however it is fun!
What about safety? You will be pleased to learn that many European car drivers are more considerate towards cyclists than many drivers in the UK because lots of continental Europeans cycle. There is not this idiot philosophy exemplified by a certain British public personality that sees cyclists as "game" to be run down any
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