The cycling excursions I joined provided some of my best memories of the cruise. There was a freedom and joy about pedaling with the wind in my hair (OK, over my required helmet), which I hadn’t experienced since college.
I love seeing how people live, and the cycling routes gave me a closer peek into the fabric of daily life. In the Wachau Valley, for example, the motor coach tour stayed on a main road along the Danube and had a big-picture view of the incredible scenery. But on our bikes, my group traveled a winding road up into the hills, following narrow, cobblestone streets through medieval wine-growing villages where people worked and lived—and where an old woman leaning out from her window waved as we breezed past.
On that ride, I met AAA Members Sherri and Bob Pflibsen. Afterward, we sat in a cafe munching pastries, and reflected on why we’d chosen the bike ride. “I like to get a little exercise when I travel,” Bob said, “and I think you see more in a shorter amount of time on a bike. And it gets you off the beaten path.”
Sherri piped in, “Yes, off the beaten path, but with a guide—so you don’t get lost. I loved it: the scenery and riding through the villages, seeing the shops and houses and people working in their yards, and wondering about their lives.”
“And this way,” Bob added, “we can go back to the boat and eat more.”
My advice: If you haven’t been on a bike in several years, go for a few spins around the block at home before your active river cruise. That’s a better—and safer—time to work out the kinks than when you’re on a guided bike tour with your fellow cruisers.