Most of us enjoy cycling. It is easy, cheap, fun and environmental friendly. Moving on from weekend rides to a week’s trip by bike is a huge step. Travelling on a bike makes one more perceptive and sensitive. It is undoubtedly the best possible way to engage with a particular culture and view a landscape. Touring by bike for the first time might seem intimidating. You feel anxious and wonder whether you can do it. Also, you might be confused about what to carry along with you.
Why a Trip by Bike
It is an entirely unique experience to visit an area by bike. The locals show more interest in people, who arrive on two wheels. You can definitely see more of the place. When you visit a place by bus, you do not get a chance to meet many locals. You only get to interact with people approaching your tour bus or those selling souvenirs.
On the contrary, while travelling by bike you usually stop by small villages where bus service is not available. As a result, you get to know more about the country and people. The more you are inspired of your destination, the more motivated you will be. Do a thorough research about the place before hand.
How Fit and Young should I need to be:
There is nothing like upper age limit for touring by cycle. You just have to be physically robust and active. Tour operators usually offer a grading system. This serves as an indicator of the required fitness level needed. Go through the requirements and determine whether you can manage the tour.
Sign up for the trip if you find it manageable. The tours that are recommended for first time riders don’t pose a problem for many. If you are unsure about managing an entire week in saddle, start by signing up for short trips instead.
Independent or Operator:
You can choose to go on supported tours. There are numerous companies like The Chain Gang offering variety of trips. Find a trip that is compatible with your fitness level. There will a mechanic available throughout the trip. When you feel confident, you can go on an independent tour.
What if in the Middle of the Tour I find it difficult to Manage:
While on a group trip, a support vehicle would mostly be available. You can hop into it. Most of the first-timers feel nervous in the beginning, but as the trip, progresses they feel more excited. Few do not even notice how much distance they have covered.
People usually cycle for a couple of hours during the weekend. When it comes to cycling tours, there is a whole day to cover the same distance. You get to visit many places on the way. You can occasionally stop for lunch, sightseeing and it seems more easy and interesting.
Will I Keep up the Pace?
If you are on an independent bike tour, speed is not a problem. When planning your itinerary, refrain from being over-ambitious about the distances. While on a group trip, it is natural to have cyclists of various levels. You can usually pair up with someone, who has similar speed as you.
If you have any problems, there will be a guide in the front and another at the back to help you out. Cycling trip is neither a training camp nor a race. By going too fast, you will miss many wonderful sights and highlights. Take your time and enjoy the drive.
Should I Take My Bike or Hire One?
Experienced cyclists, who are on a harder level trip mostly, take bikes that they are familiar with. You will be charged by airlines for transporting your vehicle. Pre-booking is necessary for this. Before travelling, it is essential to dismantle your bike.
You can get the help of a company to do this dismantling work for you, but keep in mind that, you would have to rebuild it by yourself after its transportation. You are responsible for any problems that might crop up with the bike. So, it is advisable to carry a repair kit and spare inner tubes as this comes in handy when there is a puncture.
Do I Require a Special Insurance?
If you possess generic travel insurance, read it carefully. Few policies do not cover off-road driving and theft of bike accessories. Few companies offer insurance specific to cycling. It is worth getting such a policy, if you go on a cycle tour regularly.
What Stuff Should I Carry?
- Helmet: The helmet you carry must provide the best protection possible. It ought to meet the British Standards and must fit you properly. Care must be taken that the straps are not twisted and it fits securely.
- Cycling Shorts: In case, you are biking for a couple of week’s padded ones are suitable.
- T-shirts: Refrain from using cotton. It is body hugging when you are sweating profusely. High-wicking fabrics are the best choice. Choose tops that do not absorb moisture and is breathable.
- Gloves: In hotter countries, if you are travelling long distances gloves are necessary. Your hands get super sweaty and so as to have a better grip this is needed.
- Shoes: You need not get cycling specific ones. Multi-activity shoes are a better option. Go for ones that have stiffer sole. Avoid sandals because you might hurt your feet while trying to stop the vehicle.
- Bag: Carrying rucksacks can be quite uncomfortable and affects your balance while biking. Get a bumbag instead. Keep only your camera, money and insurance details in it. In case, you have booked a baggage relocation service, they will transport the rest of the baggage.
- Camping Gear: If you are planning for camping, you have to carry camping stuff too. Carry a tent, a roll mat, insulated sleeping bag, cylinder and gas stove, kitchenware, matches etc.
Cycling is a fun and pleasurable activity. Without the required fitness, it is not going to be easy. By practicing regularly, you can definitely enjoy your biking experience.