Easy Rider - a (very gentle) cycle tour up the river Rhine
Published by The Financial Times
Written By Tim Moore
Usually one for more testing terrain, Tim Moore tries out a week of rather softer routes — disembarking from a luxury cruise
Over the years, my wife has witnessed me in countless scenarios that present a very poor advertisement for bicycle touring. Pallid and babbling at the summit of Mont Ventoux, skeletal and hypothermic in snowbound Lapland, a weepy red mess across the broiled Balkans. Even on the good days, I’ve struggled to impress my sometime support driver with the upsides. Bigging up the dogged accumulation of distance, altitude and well-earned suppers has proved a tough sell to a very occasional high-road cyclist. It’s an awfully long time since my wife rode a bike without a basket on the handlebars. In common with most hard-working, rational human beings, she goes on holiday to put her feet up, not rotate them several thousand times towards the ragged edge of endurance.
Without wishing to make lazy gender assumptions, I doubt our partnership is unique in pairing a middle-aged man in Lycra with a middle-aged woman in low heels and a flowery skirt. It was surely with the intention of bridging this familiar divide that Butterfield & Robinson, doyens of the high-end guided bicycle tour, devised their new Rhine Cruise Biking trip, a week-long luxury sail up the mighty river from Basel to Amsterdam, with daily disembarkations for a few gentle hours of in-saddle sightseeing up pan-flat bike paths. “A self-selecting group of nice husbands,” my wife declared, after an introductory hotel breakfast with the dozen-odd couples who comprised our group. Like me, these men had nobly reined in their male-pattern, two-wheeled urge to conquer brutal landscapes, fuelled by sweaty pockets full of stolen breakfast rolls. I nodded manfully. How marvellous to frame this holiday as an act of chivalrous self-denial, without having to admit that I’m getting too old for all that grim punishment; I was in fact secretly delighted by the relaxed itinerary and the promise of all-inclusive on-board indulgence.