One of the great joys of cycling is that it gives you a good appetite and a great excuse to indulge. Sampling local foods is one of the best ways of getting to know a country and its culture.
Food always tastes best in the country it originates from, it's not just that the locals know how to cook it properly or have the right ingredients to hand but there's some collusion between the landscape, weather, sounds and smells that makes a dish taste amazing.
We know that good food is very important to bike riders and it is a big part of cycling culture. Whether it's cake and a coffee stop on a cold winter ride or a picnic in the sun, stopping for food is something we all look forward to. As well as being enjoyable, food has a very important role in fuelling your cycling - you need to keep your energy levels up for all those cheeky climbs we have in store for you!
Skedaddle picnics are legendary and a highlight of each day's ride. Every morning your guide will head to local markets and shops to pick out fresh food for lunch and snacks. They are always on the lookout for seasonal produce typical of the area you will be cycling through that day. Along with all the wholesome nourishing food, you may also find yourself being offered the wonderful (and the weird) from the local delicacies available.
When we recce a trip we look at more than just the cycling. Our aim is to find restaurants that serve beautifully prepared local food in a warm friendly ambience. We find places that are full of charm, and often interesting local characters too, giving the true flavour of the region. Sitting around a table together at the end of the day gives us a chance to share our stories from the ride and chat through the next day's adventures.
Food is just one part of the culinary adventure and it would be remiss of us to not talk about the many wines, beers, cocktails and drinks that we enjoy sampling. Swilling a deep amber drop of scotch round your glass and savouring its peaty taste by an open fire is really the only way to end a day's ride in the Highlands, but if you are in Cuba it will be the sharp taste of lime, fresh mint and rum in your mojito that signals the end of a day in the saddle.
We asked some of our guides where was their favourite picnic spot and why? Here's what they said:
The final day of cycling on our Chateaux of the Loire leisure cycling tour is a beautiful ride and lunch is taken beside the river at the picturesque town of Amboise.
Lodged under the fortified Chateau d'Amboise it's a lovely place to have your final lunch of tasty local French food and afterwards relax by the river or pop to the Leonardo Da Vinci museum in the town. It's not only the setting which is nice but my favourite part is catching a glimpse of the cyclists as they relax and reflect about where they've been and what they've seen during the last few days. Everyone takes a while to get back on their bikes today and with this in mind, we made the afternoon easy paced so we can easily meander our way through the vineyards to Tours.
Valerie Azezian - France
My current favourite picnic spot is on the final day of riding on our new Bilbao to Barcelona road cycling trip.
After 8 days amazing cycling this was the last picnic before our entrance in to big city! The spot was a mirador just above and looking down on to Barcelona. There's always a great vibe amongst our customers who have cycled for 8 days and who are now looking down at their objective with big smiles.
Andy Pittson - Southern Spain
The picnics we do on the Chile and Argentina Lake District tour are bursting with perfect paltas (avocados) and no lunchtime is complete without an array of tasty local meats and juicy fruit. We really take pride in our lunches - hey we are representing Chile!!! So we always chose special places.
For me lakeside spots are the best. Anywhere that you can kick off your shoes and socks and dunk your feet in the cooling waters of a glacial lake, whilst gazing at a landscape peppered with snow capped volcanoes is perfect.
Ernesto Palm Del Curto... but you can call me Ernesto - Chile
In terms of the view, then the best picnic spot for me is the one that welcomes cyclists on the 4th day of the Alps and Dolomites road cycling tour.
Our day begins from Campitello di Fassa in the Fassa Valley, and after a few km in the valley begins the climb to Passo Sella - an amazing 11km ride through huge limestone boulders and lush green coniferous forest. After getting our breath back we descend 5kms down to the valley on a thin ribbon of asphalt that follows the slope of the valley and our lunch spot.
This small picnic area equipped with wooden tables is the perfect setting. At an altitude of 1800 metres the temperature is perfect and we are surrounded by huge rock faces and everything around us is green and bursting with sweet smells. A soft 'grassy carpet' allows us to relax in the sun and suitably refreshed we jump back in the saddle to face three beautiful passes of the mighty Dolomites - Gardena, Campolongo and Pordoi.
Nicola Fais - Italy
We share out the driving on our Highlands coast to coast mountain biking trip in Scotland and there's always a battle to see who can produce the best lunch and lunch stop. But if your day is the day of the The Corrieyairack Pass then you've one hell of an advantage. Whilst you really need to get a wriggle on to make it on time (the riders cut through the mountains and the driver has a long windy road round) the setting is stunning.
After parking up in a stunning Glen at the end of a bumpy track it's time to prepare things before scouring the horizon for the riders. Soon the tiny dots get bigger and bigger as the group heads towards you and people screech to a halt before you. There's no need for them to tell you how the ride has gone as its written firmly on their faces in the form of a beaming smile. As for the lunch...let's just say it matches the smiles!!
Tony Stoddart - Scotland