Last November, I had the pleasure of accompanying our first group of travelers on our long-weekend cycling escape to Bermuda. The group was made up of four "first-timers" and four who were on their second bike trip of the year. Only a 2-hour flight from Boston, this island-nation is a true gem in the sub-tropical Atlantic whose beauty and charm created a long-lasting surprise-and-delight effect on those visiting for the first time. It has the same effect on me every time I return!
Bermuda is an archipelago of over 40 islands and islets, mostly protected by natural coral reefs surrounding its shores. This not only makes its waters dramatically blue in color, it creates a habitat for thousands of species of marine life that are visible with the naked eye or with a snorkel mask. The reefs also make the pink-sand beaches some of the most swimmer-friendly I’ve seen.
The island nation was seen first "discovered" by Spanish explorers who never actually landed there, and historians have recently confirmed that Portuguese sailors who made landfall were responsible for inscriptions in Bermuda’s “Portuguese Rock” in 1543, until very recently, known as Spanish Rock. Today, Bermuda is a British overseas territory.
Islanders were so excited that we were coming that the Royal Gazette wrote a story about us.
Here are 6 discoveries I made while cycling across Bermuda:
1. It’s like riding through a watercolor painting – you’ll never get tired of the views.
Smooth, winding roads with lush vegetation, brightly-colored flowers and pastel architecture are not just typical for a painting, they are the reality in Bermuda, where homes and buildings adhere to strict building codes and color schemes. And just around almost every bend, the view opens up to dramatic cliffsides, seascapes on a seemingly infinite horizon. Who could get tired of this kind of riding?
2. We had a sneak peek at the 2017 America’s Cup.
In 2017, America’s Cup will take place here, and preparations have been underway for this majestic event for over 2 years. In fact, many racers were in practice mode near the America’s Cup village, and if you’ve never seen these guys in action (like I hadn’t), you’ll be wowed at the speed and grace as they guide their vessels to what seems like soaring over the waves. Those who ride with us in April or May 2017 are sure to see many teams in action – a bonus sneak preview of the main event.
3. Riding on the left is part of the fun.
Traffic moves on the left in Bermuda, and for many of us, riding on the left side of the road was a first. Our local guide and some former left-side riders shared their tips for the newbies: keep the yellow line always to your right, enter a roundabout in a clockwise direction and you’ll be a pro after just a few minutes!
4. Local cyclists love visiting cyclists.
Road biking is gaining popularity among locals, with many out riding in the morning hours and belonging to local and international teams. If they encounter you on the road, you’re guaranteed a spontaneous exchange of dialog along with a warm island welcome. And like with our group, one of them may ride along with you for a bit – a great way to get meet a new local friend who will share his or her cycling stories and favorite things about their island home.
5. You’ll discover the island like no other visitor will.
Today, most visitors to Bermuda come for the pristine beaches, the award-winning golf, or they tour the island from their cruise ship. Since there are no rental cars or big bus tours in Bermuda, visitors mostly use taxis or the pink public buses to get around. Ciclismo Classico is the first company to offer a full-island discovery by bicycle, so you’re guaranteed to experience Bermuda on a human-powered vehicle and in a way hardly anyone else will!
6. Bermuda has “all the ingredients”.
The ingredients that make a perfect bike trip, that is: breathtaking scenery, a rich history and culture, delicious and diverse cuisine, warm and welcoming people, smooth roads to ride and of course, unforgettable vistas and views. It’s like a European bike tour done island-style. Bermudians descend from all over the world and it shows through in the food, art, music and hospitality done in a globally sophisticated style with a British-island flair.
Four departures are available this year, limited to small groups of 14 guests each.
Related blog: 10 Truths About Cycling in Bermuda