The Mandurah Over 55 Cycling Club comprises of 220 cyclists – both experienced and beginner – who love cycling around Western Australia together. In recent years, they’ve branched out to do boat and bike tours together all over Europe. We asked cycling club member Mike and his wife Barbara about their highlights from these journeys.
Our first trip was from Paris to Champagne and back again, with two barges and 40 club members. We’ve also done tours in Holland, Germany and Italy. We always go for at least two weeks, as it takes so far to get to Europe from Australia.
How do you plan the tours, and select who is going to come along?
We always plan the trips together with Jossie. We plan which destination we’re going to, and reserve the boat. We always charter a whole barge. We get to plan what we see on the trips. For example, we’re very interested in WWI history, so [Boat Bike Tours tour coordinator] Jossie added on some extra excursions for us in the Belgium trip we’d planned for this year.
We once did a trip to Italy which was three weeks long, and even crossed over into Croatia! Italy doesn’t have so many rivers, so we spent one week cycling downhill towards Lake Garda, and then sailed down the river Po towards Venice. Jossie organized it in collaboration with Giro Riviera, an Italian travel company.
Then we advertise the trip at the club. It’s first come, first served. Whoever puts their hand up and pays their deposits first gets to come. There are 220 members of the club, so group isn’t always the same, but some core people always come.
What do you enjoy so much about travelling by biking and barge with the club?
You get to see a lot of the countryside, have good social time, and you’re well taken care of with plenty of drinks and eats. We also love having the same room, it’s so convenient that you don’t have to pack up and move between places.
The crew are so friendly and professional! Captain Harrie was a favorite of ours. And the tour leaders are extraordinary. We had a Dutch guide who stood out, named Lia. She was hugely knowledgeable, and went out of her way to find out what we were interested in. At night our guides organized walks through whichever city or town we were docked at, which was very informative.
And is there one tour which stood out as a highlight?
It’s hard to choose, but probably the highlight was our trip from Paris to Champagne. So many wineries, huge tunnels full of champagne, and cycling past the Louvre. This year, our tour couldn’t go ahead because of Covid. We’ve re-booked for September next year, and are hoping to be back then!