I have had the opportunity to enjoy short tours on local trails for just a couple of days, and also the around-the-world adventures. I have thoroughly enjoyed both kinds but there are challenges and thrills associated with both of them. Before you choose, I would recommend looking at different aspects of bicycle touring to decide which approach suits you the most. Either way, I can assure you that you are on an exciting and healthy path to exploring the challenging and scenic terrains of the world.
To start, you definitely need a bike along with some gear. However, the equipment including the clothing largely depends on the nature of the trip you are planning. Once you have planned the tour and purchased the equipment, you need to figure out how much money you want to spend, how much time you have available for the tour and the effort you want to expend. I will try to provide you as much useful information as possible so you could make the right choices when you visit the bike store. Click here to visit website for bike and accessories selection.
Choosing the Tour:
When I first went on a bicycle tour, I didn't pay much attention to the planning part, particularly one that involved exploring all the available types of touring in the UK. Much to my surprise, I later discovered that I could have saved a lot of money had I been more meticulous. Typically, there are four types of tours you can choose from:
- Credit card touring.
- Self-supported touring.
- Vehicle supported touring and organized touring.
Credit card tours are meant for cyclists who can carry their own clothing and cycling gear but pay for accommodations, meals and supplies while they are travelling. These tours involve less hassle but are expensive and offer little preparation for injuries and breakdowns.
Self-supported tours, as the name suggests, require the cyclists to manage everything on their own from carrying equipment and clothing to making stops whenever and wherever for food. You have all the freedom and low expenses, however, you do have to carry a lot of gear and put more effort into planning.
Vehicle support tours involve keeping a supporting vehicle along for storing supplies and equipment. Cyclists don't have to worry about keeping gear with them and they can travel farther. However, it is expensive because somebody has to drive and the vehicle cannot go everywhere the bicycle can.
Lastly, organised tours are managed and run by commercial service. Some provide full services addressing every single detail of the tour, while others provide just basic services which include accommodation assistance and route planning. These tours are convenient, great for beginners and involve less hassle. Additionally, you get to meet new people and make friends.
Deciding on the size of group
I mostly choose short and solo tours, mostly full day rides or just afternoon rides. I also really enjoy overnight solo tours as I get to enjoy the peace and serenity of night. However, I wouldn't recommend overnight rides for novices as safety can be an issue.
Large groups consisting of more than six riders is a lot of fun in my opinion. However, its not very easy to organise such tours and usually only experienced cyclists agree to them. Most of the times you have to organise them yourself and prepare for a number of them to back out at the last hour. For novices, small groups consisting of two to six people are ideal. You don't have to worry about being alone and you have company to help around in case of a breakdown.
While choosing a group, make sure you take into account factors like interests of cyclists such as the kind of terrain they like, scenery, attractions and side trips. Do not forget to consider their cycling skills as well. Depending on the route you select, cycling challenges could be different and you have to make sure the cyclists are capable of handling weather, traffic and terrain.
Most of the challenges a cyclist could face cannot be determined until he actually comes across them. My experience has provided me a lot of insight and tours have become more convenient over time. Some of the problems I have faced over the years include:
- I didn't plan the amount of mileage for each day before I left for a tour. More mileage usually means you have less time for making stops and sightseeing particularly if you already have a stopover point in mind for the day. I think it is very important to calculate the mileage beforehand.
- Do some research in advance: Before leaving for a particular place, go over the Internet and find out where the closest bike repair shops are located. Also find out the address of general stores and telephone booths. Despite your best planning, there always could be an emergency.
- When choosing a route, know where each tunnel and bridge is located. You must also know where a busy stretch of road is coming ahead and where a construction zone is located.
- Know your priority. If you want to practice your riding skill, it is best to stick to the nice tracks and roads. If scenery is your major concern, you may have to stick to secondary roads which are not always well maintained.
- If your tour is overnight or a multi-day tour, you have to figure out where you will be staying. Don't try to be adventurous since it can back fire after a long hectic day. You must consider your group’s expectations, budget, gear and experiences.
- Certain times of year are busier than usual, for instance, the holiday season or summer holidays. These times can be potentially more dangerous and you may not be able to get a nice accommodation. Keep this consideration in mind.