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Getting back on the bike

Angel Fire Bike Park at the Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico has more than 60 miles of mountain bike trails. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Angel Fire Resort
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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

A few years ago, a luxury hotel executive referred to bicycling as the new golf. Who knew what an understatement that would turn out to be.

From European river cruises to Western dude ranches, and even city-center hotels and snowy destinations, bicycles in some form or fashion have become an almost standard amenity in the luxury space.

With spring in the air and 2017 marking the 200th anniversary of the bicycle's invention, tour operators that specialize in active vacations are putting forth their newest cycling offerings.

Wilderness Scotland, for instance, has launched a 12-day bike tour covering nearly 500 miles through Great Britain and Ireland. Starting in England's Yorkshire Dales National Park, the journey follows the scenic roads made famous by the Tour de France, Tour of Britain and Tour of Ireland. It also passes through Keir Mill, a small Scottish village where Kirkpatrick Macmillan is credited with adding pedals to the bicycle in 1839. The trip debuts May 15, with additional departures in June and September.

The itinerary, which starts at about $3,400 per person, promises some of the best food; and hotel and guesthouse accommodations in the British Isles.

"Our new five-country bike tour is a bucket list adventure for any road cycling fan," said Stevie Christie, co-owner and head of adventure for Wilderness Scotland. "Britain and Ireland's profile as a great cycling destination has gone global, and there is no better way to celebrate the bicycle's birthday than in the saddle exploring some of the most inspiring natural landscapes on Earth."

For families, the Carter Company is celebrating the anniversary of children's author Enid Blyton's first book in her "Famous Five" series, "Five on a Treasure Island," with a luxury bike and walking tour of England's south coast.

The five-day adventure through Dorset starts in the village of Studland and visits many of the sites and places that were loved by Blyton and featured in her stories.

The route includes traffic-free, gentle rides through the forest and to the village and castle of Corfe Castle, often used as a setting for Blyton's tales. The tour also includes a steam train adventure, the Jurassic Coast, Brownsea Island and a stay at the Knoll House Hotel, which was a favorite holiday spot for Blyton in the 1960s.

The prices start at $1,220 per person for four days and offer classic or luxury accommodations.

For the more adventurous cyclists, mountain biking has become a summertime staple of ski resorts. Some, like Angel Fire in northern New Mexico, have built dedicated mountain bike parks.

With more than 60 miles of trails, the Angel Fire Bike Park claims to be the largest in the southwestern United States, and was named as the top bike park in the Southwest by MTBParks.com. The park opens in May and offers a variety of festivals and special events throughout the summer. Accommodation options include the ski resort's luxury RV park.

To the north, near Steamboat Springs, Colo., the Home Ranch offers mountain biking in addition to horseback riding and other traditional dude ranch activities. In August, for instance, it is hosting a "Bikes & Brews" package featuring Colorado craft brews, beer workshops, on and off-ranch mountain bike rides, live music and cooking classes. Prices start at $3,045 per room for a three-night package.

And for those whose luxury means authentic adventure more than modern luxury accommodations, there are few more weeks left to try a fat-tire biking adventure to see the northern lights in Finland.

Launched this year by Exodus Travels , the eight-day Fat Biking in Finland, with rates starting at $1,075, takes cyclists through snow-veiled pine forests and across frozen lakes to the border of Russia. Nights are spent in remote wilderness cabins with wood-burning fireplaces and traditional saunas.

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