The wind in one’s hair, gradually unfolding scenery at eye-level, and the rhythmic rotation of the pedals— there’s a special kind of freedom that comes from riding a bike. From lazy days where the way is the goal to long-distance rides over mountain ranges, here are just a few things to do from the seat of your trusty two-wheeled companion or with it in mind.

Visiting a trade show could help you determine which type of cycle fits you best. Some of the most important fairs coming up include:

Trade shows

Willingen, Germany: The BIKE Festival Willingen, a fair organized by BIKE magazine, bills itself as Germany’s largest mountain bike festival, with some 130 manufacturers present, along with test bikes and a bike park May 24-26. Online:

Frankfurt, Germany: The VELOFrankfurt fair, centered around the themes or urban mobility and an eco-friendly lifestyle, takes place May 25-26 at the Eissporthalle. Online:

Frankfurt, Germany: The much bigger Eurobike event is the place where manufacturers both small and mighty come to show off their latest wares. Three days for tradespeople in the branch exclusively are followed by a bike festival open to all July 6-7. Online:

Cycling shows

Birmingham, England: The National Cycling Show presents the chance to try and buy bikes, parts and lifestyle accessories. It takes place at the N.E.C. June 15-16. Online:

Auto-free days

On certain Sunday afternoons, along what’s normally a busy stretch of highway, towns of a tourist region will all band together to create a so-called auto-free day. Along a stretch of road kept off-limits to motorized vehicles, local businesses, clubs and volunteer organizations will set up stands offering sizzling sausages, cooling drinks, coffee and cake or other treats. Many such days out can be reached by train, making it a true car-free day from start to finish.

Merzig – Konz, Germany: SaarPedal presents the chance to explore the scenery along 25 miles of the Saar River Valley from 10 a.m-6 p.m. May 19. Online:

Worms - Oppenheim, Germany: Rheinradeln offers a 16-mile stretch of road running through the Rheinhessen wine region from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 26. Online:

Bad Mergentheim - Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany: This 30-mile route through the Tauber Valley offers as its starting (or end) point one of Germany’s most intact and beautiful medieval cities.

Join the club

The ADFC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club), or German Cyclist’s Association, is a club for bicycle riders that promotes the use of a bike as a means of both everyday transportation and recreation. The club’s activities include holding organized rides for members, affixing codes on bicycles to help the police in returning stolen property to its rightful owner and advocating for cyclists’ rights and interests. Members can opt to take part in a hospitality exchange service known as Dachgeber, or Roof Provider, in which ADFC members provide simple accommodation to their fellow members free of charge and can take advantage of the same. Online:

Watch a race

Italy: While not the country’s most famous race (that’s the Giro d’Italia), one that could be fun to spectate, or with proper training take part in, is the Nove Colli, or Nine Hills. Considered one of the most prestigious of all Granfondo (long distance) races, participants must pedal a distance of 127 miles over terrain both flat and mountainous within 12 hours. The spectacularly scenic route passes along mostly closed roads in the Emilia-Romagna region. The race’s 2024 edition is scheduled for May 19. Online:

France: For the first time ever, that most famous of all bike races, the Tour de France, will not end in Paris. The route has been changed to avoid the other huge event to take place there this summer -- the Olympic games. The first race day, known as the Grand Depart, will get underway in Florence, Italy, on June 29. A total of four stages will be held in Italy before the race hits French soil. Major Italian cities the tour will pass through include Rimini, Cesenatico, Bologna, Piacenza and Turin. The race will end in Nice on July 21. Online:

Wax nostalgic

Just as there are rallies and meet-ups for classic auto drivers, the cycling world too has its events in which races or looking like part of the smart set 60 years ago takes place from the seat of a vintage bicycle. Places to sport one’s flair might include the Velo Retro, set in the English Lake District. From May 31-June 1, the event celebrates its 10th anniversary year with its program made up largely of group rides on old steel frame bikes, punctuated by frequent stops for eating, drinking and socializing. The event takes place May 31-June 2. Online:

One of the best-known vintage cycling events is L’Eroica, in which non-professional riders set off on their old bikes, smartly dressed in vintage style, to follow one of five different routes all starting and ending in Gaiole, a town in the Chianti wine country in the province of Siena. Tour lengths range from 20 to 80 miles. The event will take place Oct. 5-6.

The popularity of the above-mentioned event inspired its organizers to stage similar rides through other parts of Italy and around the world. European rides scheduled for 2024 include those in Valais, Switzerland (June 15), Valkenburg, Netherlands (June 28-29) and Eltville, Germany (Aug. 24). Other rides within Italy are planned for Montalcino on May 26, Buonconvento on June 27 and San Candido on Sept. 7. Online:

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now