If you are in a tour bus for example, its easy to tune out or be distracted, but when you are riding a bike, you are in complete awareness of your surroundings,” says Penny Schultz.

This month we have a chance to interview Penny Schultz, a passionate cyclist who has joined our 3 tours since 2012.

Tell us about your earliest experiences as a cyclist…

I started riding a bike at a very young age when I used to ride my bike to school. As I was growing up my bike was my main form of transportation, so I didn’t view cycling as a leisure activity until I was much older. I met a friend who worked at a bike store and he got me interested in riding Centuries for charity events, and from that time on I enjoyed long distance cycling.

In 2007 I did my first bike tour in Italy, and since that time I have taken bike tours abroad in France, New Zealand, Thailand, and most recently Cappadocia in Turkey.

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Tell us what you most enjoy about cycle touring and why you like to see the world by bicycle?

I love to travel and I love to be physically fit. Cycle touring gives me the opportunity to exercise and travel at the same time. When I’m working I am sitting at a desk all day, so when I’m on vacation, I want to be outdoors doing physical activities and sightseeing – cycle touring is a great way to do this.

When you are cycling, you really feel a part of the landscape, and I think your senses are more aware of your surroundings – what you see, hear, smell, and touch. If you are in a tour bus for example, its easy to tune out or be distracted, but when you are riding a bike, you are in complete awareness of your surroundings. It’s nice to have some easy biking days, but it’s also nice to feel challenged, and to feel that you have “earned” your next meal.

How many cycle tours have you been on with SpiceRoads and which has been your favourite?

I have been on 2 multi-day tours and 1 day tour with SpiceRoads. I have liked all the tours I’ve taken with SpiceRoads very much, but I would have to say my most recent trip to Cappadocia really impressed me. The scenery in Cappadocia is the most unique scenery that you will ever see anywhere else in the world. There are similarities in Bryce Canyon and Canyonlands National Parks in the U.S., but nothing quite as dramatic as Cappadocia. The rock formations formed by volcanic ash that have an incredible history and have been used as cave dwellings, monasteries, and pigeon houses.

SpiceRoads did an excellent job arranging the tour, accommodations, meals, and an awesome tour guide, and driver. It was truly a turnkey experience where everything was taken care of and we did not have to worry about anything except peddling the bike across some challenging terrain at times. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and a good cyclist. I have been on bike tours where the tour guide was all about the cycling and not so much about the tour sights. I think it’s very important to have both. SpiceRoads exceeded my expectations in every aspect of this tour.

Where would you like to cycle next?

There are many places where I would like to do a cycling tour: Croatia, Bhutan, Alaska, Mongolia, and Bali are a few on my list.

In your opinion, what is the benefit of travelling by bicycle?

I think the benefits of travelling by bicycle are:

  • Being physically active while travelling
  • A great way to see a country
  • Riding in a new place with beautiful scenery
  • Meeting new like-minded people
  • Group camaraderie

Do you have any specific diet, especially before the long ride?

I try to maintain a healthy diet most of the time. I think a diet high in protein, fruits, and vegetables is good for any activity. I do not have a special diet before a long ride though but during a long ride. I do like to make smoothies with lots of fruits and vegetables and protein before a long ride. I find if I carbo-load like some people do, it makes me feel lethargic to eat too much, so I prefer to get my energy through drinking rather than eating. I like to eat almonds or peanuts, protein bars, fresh fruit primarily when I’m riding.

Any special training before the long ride?

If you are not a cyclist that rides regularly, it’s important to get out and ride on a regular basis before a long ride, otherwise your body (especially your butt) is not prepared to sit on a bike for long periods of time. I have been on tours where there have been people who like the novelty of a new experience to do a vacation by bicycle and have no idea what they are getting into. I like the discipline of doing indoor riding at a spinning class – this provides an excellent method for fast paced riding for a full hour and great hill training as well. Plus, you can spin any time of year regardless of the weather or time commitments if you are unable to spend a lot of time outdoors riding for hours. I do think hill training is very important for any long distance bike ride. Regardless of the terrain, it is very likely you are always going to have to climb some hills.

More pictures from Cappadocia by Penny:

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