Build the USBRS with

May 5, 2017 has seen the great success of the U.S. Bicycle Route System and is sponsoring a $1,000 match challenge to keep the momentum going. Donate today to have your contribution matched by!

Read all about here and discover their unique approach to creating European cycling adventures for you.


As the one-stop resource for bike tours in Europe, has been helping travelers’ bike tour dreams come true since 2003. They know that traveling by train, car, or bus in Europe is like watching a beautiful movie through the windshield. But biking that same landscape puts you in the movie.

You feel the terrain of Bavaria beneath your wheels, breathe the air of the Tuscan countryside, see the plump grapes hanging from their vines along the Danube, and savor that guilt-free croissant when you stop. holds close relationships with local European companies that run cycling tours, and they promote these tours through their website.

Why tour with local European bike tour companies?

  • Lower costs. Since the tour operator is typically in the location where the tour is located, that means overhead costs are lower.
  • Knowledgeable staff and guides. You are helped by locals in the area, who know the area, and who can guide you through the area, pointing out the gems on and off the beaten tourist track.
  • On-the-ground support. When you show up for your tour and have a question or issue, you can simply reach out to the operator there on the ground. They can help if you get lost, or have any unforeseen bike problems, or if you just have a question about where you should eat dinner that night!
  • International camaraderie. On North American-owned operators’ tours, you’ll typically only ride with Americans. But when on group tour with a local operator, your party is usually composed of people from all over the world. It’s a wonderful way to make new friends from another culture and learn about even more of the world.

How does help their clients?

  1. They take away the guesswork. represents more than 75 local bike tour companies in nearly 40 countries across Europe, so their clients can choose with complete confidence.
  2. They offer variety and choice. represents 70 companies with more than 200 tours to select from, and they recommend the tours they think best meet your preferences.
  3. They advise you rather than sell to you. Not sure which tour is right for you? tour advisors consult with you, asking and answering questions and then offering recommendations. They are committed to help you find the bicycle tour that matches your needs and preferences.
  4. They make booking simple. Ready to book? They handle the entire booking and payment process and remain your liaison and advocate with the tour company before, during, and after the tour.
  5. They offer great prices. The European bike tour companies represents tend to be locally-owned and run and have lower overhead than their larger North American counterparts. Their tour costs are lower, and we don’t mark them up.
  6. They keep it local and sustainable. By traveling with local bike tour companies, you benefit from local experts. Nearly the entire tour cost stays local, supporting local economies: guides, stores, inns, and restaurants. — “What we believe”

  • Bikes are the best way to explore our fascinating world. Bicycle tours offer a travel experience you don’t get from a bus, rental car, or train.
  • There’s an alternative to the expensive, heavily marketed, overseas bicycle tours offered by many fine North American operators. There’s a way to get the same quality bike tour at a lower cost — but with no sacrifices.
  • You get the best value by riding with local tour operators. Almost 15 years ago, we started representing the local companies that run the tours to bring you the best possible value.
  • We believe the best way to experience a new land and culture is through the eyes of locals. That’s a benefit of local companies developing the routes and itineraries and identifying the right hotels or restaurants.
  • Supporting local economies is key for a responsible and sustainable travel industry. We’re committed to representing local tour operators, so other than our small commission and booking fee, your money stays in the local economy.
  • Outstanding, personal service makes for happy clients. We’re proud of our high percentage of repeat and referral clients. 
  • Trading gas-consuming vehicles for bikes can help reduce the environmental impact of the travel industry. Green travel is ethical travel.

Ten questions to ask yourself before planning an overseas bicycle tour

  1. Why tour by bike? Touring by bike is perhaps the best way to truly experience the landscape and culture of a region — the unique features of the terrain, the smell of flowers or ripening grapes, the sounds of wildlife, or the people and hidden treasures of small towns. As one travel writer has also described it: traveling by car, train, or bus is like watching an amazingly beautiful movie go by. Traveling by bike is like being in the movie.
  2. Why should I go with a local tour operator? We believe that the best way to experience a new land and culture is with the guidance of locals. That’s why partners with local tour operators around the world to offer you an amazing selection of some of the best quality tours available. This means cheaper tour price tags, a helpful advisor while you plan, and local on-the-ground support. 
  3. What’s my budget? Until recently, you had a choice of two extremes: “on the cheap,” self-contained tours, where you’re entirely on your own, or expensive, “all-inclusive” luxury tours. Now there are alternative mid-range programs offered primarily by local overseas bike tour companies. That’s where comes in — they represent those local operators and deliver you with a variety of tours and destinations at a great value.
  4. Where do I want to go? Researching destinations is a good place to start narrowing your search. To determine your preferences for destinations, ask yourself some key questions:
    1. Interests. Castles, family-friendly activities, wine, regional cuisine?
    2. Terrain and scenery. Mountains, forests, plains, rivers, the sea?
    3. Cultural differences. Do you want a “familiar” setting or a more exotic (and even challenging) one?
    4. Language. Prefer countries where English is widely spoken? Or excited by the challenge of translation dictionaries and hand gestures?
    5. Climate. Hot weather or more temperate?

  1. Do I prefer riding with a guide and a group, or more on my own? Guided and self-guided tours offer somewhat different experiences, and each has unique advantages. Decide which suits you and your party best. offers a handy comparison chart to help you decide.
  2. What’s my ability level? Pay close attention to average and maximum daily distances, the terrain, and surfaces. And remember that you’ll be riding day after day for as long as a week or more.
  3. How many days do I want my bike tour to last? While we’d love to live on the road, we understand most people have limited time, even for a dream trip. Consider travel and recuperation time, both pre- and post-tour, or how long you might want to extend your trip.
  4. Do I want to ride every day? Most bicycle tourists enjoy traveling each day — cycling from Point A to Point B and sleeping in a new location each night. The scenery changes and the experiences are gratifying. Still, there’s something to be said for staying overnight in one town and doing day trips — you don’t have to pack each morning, you can settle in, and you can really get to know a location. Decide if you want rest days built into the itinerary. If so, tours based in one hotel, or “hub-and-spoke tours,” are a great choice.
  5. How far do I want to ride each day? Remember you are on vacation and there will be a lot to see along the way — and you’ll be riding for several days, usually back to back. So don’t use your weekly Sunday ride as a guide. We almost never hear feedback that daily distances were too short!
  6. What kind of route and riding surface do I prefer? You should think about how comfortable you’d be occasionally riding in light to moderate road traffic, or if you’d prefer a bike tour that primarily follows a bike path. Terrain and riding surfaces (packed dirt, gravel, asphalt) should also be considered. also offers a free guide, “How to choose the trip of your two-wheeled dreams.”

About founder and president Jim Johnson and the origins of

The idea for came from president and founder Jim Johnson, an avid cyclist and former corporate America, nine-to-fiver whose bike tour brokerage idea came from his own experiences abroad.

In the early 90s, Jim was a freelance travel writer who felt that bicycling is the best way to explore a country, meet local people, and research destinations. And, of course, it allows for frequent stops for pastries or ice cream along the way.

When he first started touring in Europe by bike in the early 1990s, he opted to plan and book tours through local European companies, which he found were less expensive and more flexible and with more frequent departures than the North American companies he was familiar with.

In the late 90s, Jim told some friends about his travels, and they asked if they could come along. The next year, more friends, and friends of friends, joined the group. At one point, someone said, “You love bicycling and you love travel. You know Europe, and you have the contacts. Why don’t you do this for a living?”

In 2003, he left corporate America and launched BikeToursDirect (which became — not organizing his own trips but representing the local European companies he’d been working with for years. Over time, the number of companies has grown to nearly 70, who together offer 200+ tours across Europe.

“Travel, writing, bicycling, tour planning — over a period of time I have been able to integrate my passions into a livelihood,” Jim says. “People tell me I have a dream job, but that’s only partially true. My job is making other people’s dreams come true.”

For the past three years, Johnson has also played an integral role in developing U.S. Bicycle Routes in the Southeast, especially in Tennessee and nearby Georgia. He is also involved in several greenway and rail-trail initiatives.

Photos courtesy of


Join us in building the largest cycling route network in the world!
The U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) is a developing national network of signed and numbered bicycle routes that link together cities, suburbs, rural communities, and public lands so that anyone, no matter who or where they are, can get to their destination by bicycle. To date, over 11,000 miles of U.S. Bicycle Routes have been officially designated in 25 states, and nearly 4,000 miles have been signed. When complete, the USBRS will encompass more than 50,000 miles and open new opportunities for cross-country travel, regional bicycle touring, and commuting by bike.
Thank you to, Visit Bentonville/Bike Bentonville, Destination Irvine,, Osprey Packs, Exodus Travels, Stan's No Tubes, and all of the generous supporters of the U.S. Bicycle Route System campaign! 


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