How to Start Bicycle Touring by Mike McLeish

How to Start Bicycle Touring by Mike McLeish

The beauty of bicycle touring is that you can visit scenic places that you couldn’t access on foot or by vehicle. Cycling is faster than walking and you can cover more miles. The ride allows you to immerse yourself in the elements, to smell, hear and feel your surroundings.

 

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Riding offers you the chance to enjoy the open fields, the canyons, the mountains, the ocean waves, and the beautiful flowers along the route. In fact, with a bicycle, you can go anywhere you want. A bicycle tour is not only enjoyable but easy to organize. With just a little practice, even those who’ve never ridden a bike before can take part in long-term bicycle trips.

 

(For long-term travel without a bike check out this great guide on Claire’s site)

 

Guest Post - How to Start Bicycle Touring by Mike McLeish

 

Decide the Touring Type that Interests You

Among the things that need consideration when you decide to start touring is the type of bike trip you want.

Bicycle touring can cover a huge range of options. This can be as simple as grabbing a pal or two and hitting the road for a couple of hours. Another option is packing and carrying all the stuff you need for a day or two.

For a proper adventure, you can even sleep under the stars. If you’re wondering what to camp in I’ve written about the best sleeping gear on my cycling blog – Pinch-Flat.com

If this doesn’t appeal you can opt for the type where you only need to swipe your credit card and all else (except peddling) is done for you. The choice is yours but it’s best to decide before you venture out.

 

Decide Where to Ride

Apart from the obvious like the scenery and the history of the route, look for routes that have low-traffic and/or roads that have good shoulders for your own safety.

As you plan, remember that most of the routes that quickly come to your mind may be undesirable for cycling due to heavy traffic. The same could apply to routes which you would love to view by bike like national parks.

If you are a mountain biker, you may want to go for a route that experiences low motorized traffic and with minimal pavements. The question you need to ask yourself is whether you can ride all the way with a bike carrying your load.

 

Guest Post - How to Start Bicycle Touring by Mike McLeish

 

Choosing Your Bike

The success of your bicycle tour could largely depend on the type of bike you choose. While in some cases it’s possible to rent a touring bike or even use the one you already own, if you are just starting out, it is wise to prepare well.

Find out the best type for the kind of touring you are considering.

The type of bike you choose will depend on the kind of terrain you will be riding on. In general, any quality touring bike can do on most routes, but be wary before you attempt to take an off-road bike route, where a mountain bike may be more appropriate.  

 

What should you take?

Most cyclists will want to keep their gear at the bare minimum, especially if you want to take a route that has several hills to be conquered. For your first bicycle tour, don’t attempt to carry too much unless you are sure that physically you are up to it. After all, the idea is to enjoy the tour not to labor with a loaded bike.

Experienced riders will recommend that you go for 2 rear panniers, and perhaps two small front panniers. A bicycle with small handlebar bags is very handy for those items that need frequent access, such as your camera, phone, or money.

 

Guest Post - How to Start Bicycle Touring by Mike McLeish

 

Consider the Cost of Bike Touring

The most economical way is to make camp and prepare your own meals. If touring in the US, and assuming you have carried all the required gear, a budget of between $35 and $50 per day ought to be adequate to meet camping fees, buy groceries, and still have something stashed away for the unforeseen such as repairs.

 

Guest Post - How to Start Bicycle Touring by Mike McLeish

 

Final Thoughts

A bike tour is fun. It can be anything from a short cruise to a single-full day ride. There are also events covering several days.

This is where all the gear you will need such as clothing and food are carried for you by a special vehicle. The support vehicle meets you at designated checkpoints on the pre-selected route.

It can even be a group or solo adventure where you carry all you will need on your bike. Put simply, bicycle touring is not only fun but highly adaptable.

So what are you waiting for! Give it a go!

Guest Post - How to Start Bicycle Touring by Mike McLeish

 

Mike McLeish

For more advice on bike touring be sure to check out Mikes Blog pinch-flat.com

and follow him on Social Media:

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Are You Traveling soon?

Be sure to check Skyscanner for the best flight deals.

I never travel anywhere without Travel Insurance. If you are looking for insurance be sure to check World Nomads first.

This post was proofread by Grammarly

 

Book your trip now

Are you ready to book your trip?  To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.

  • Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with. 
  • Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections. 
  • Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
  • Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
  • Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there. 
  • Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership! 
  • Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
  • RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals. 
  • Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
  • World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review. 
  • SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here
  • Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration. 
  • Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.

Claire Summers

Dancer, producer, traveller, photographer, cake maker, dog lover and knitter of Christmas scarfs.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Danielle Desir

    I just went on a short bike cruise on the Bermuda Railway Trail in Bermuda! It coveres 18 miles of the island but I decided to only do 4 miles since it wasn’t continuous and so I had to share the road with heavy traffic. Bike touring is definitely worth an adventure!

  2. Megan Indoe

    I would love to try this one day! We are currently in the Czech Republic where everyone and their brother bikes distance from one beautiful place to another! It’s been making me want to try this out! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Claire Summers

      It’s such a European thing to do. In Europe everyone has a bike and goes for long rides!

  3. Chantell Collins

    I did a bicycle tour in Riga recently had such a blast. A few days later, I was on the back of a bike again in Copenhagen and loved the freedom it bought. I don’t have the space to buy a bike right now but am staying at a few hotels and hostels in Italy that provide bike rental so will be taking advantage. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Eddie

    Great tips! This is so true, I love how the bike allows you to travel with efficiency, but also lets you experience your surroundings much better than riding in a car; especially if you’re in a bike friendly city.

  5. Maria

    That sounds amazing. I have never considered bike touring, but this post actually made me think it can be an option. How to does it work to take your bike on a plane and other transportations? And where would you recommend starting for a newbie?

    1. Claire Summers

      I actually wrote a post all about this for Skyscanner! https://goo.gl/qYbYk2

      I’ll leave the recommendations to Mike though as I’ve never bike toured…although I’m seriously considering it!

  6. Bee

    Cool! I love cycling and feel it’s a great way to get around town. I’ve never did a tour by bike, for fear of not keeping up. these are great tips to keep in mind though!

    1. Claire Summers

      Im the same. I really want to give it a go soon though. I’ve met so many people cycle touring and they have so many stories. One day I’ll be brave!

  7. Danijela WorldGlimpses

    Nice tips. It’s obvious that you enjoy your bike rides and what better person to get tips on biking from, right! 😉 I agree with you, it’s more practical then walking, you cover more, go faster and enjoy the surroundings. Still, I never did take the whole tour including camping etc, but I do love shorter rides.

  8. Janna

    Ive never done one but Ive been wanting to go on a bicycle tour somewhere in Europe! I love sight seeing and this is an interesting take on doing it. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Dwi

    Cool info and make me jealous coz i cant bicycle hihihi coz during tour with it look so nice

  10. mark wyld

    We recently went on our first bike tour in Barcelona recently. We have vowed to hire some bikes for independent exploring more in the future. The kids seem to enjoy it more than walking and you can cover more distance.

  11. julz

    I love bike tours 😀 but am a bit clumsy… Once I went to do one in Ubud , nice scenery in the rice padis etc… I was with staff from my husbands hotel – they were ‘chaperoning’ me lol… and I go downhill, don’t notice the mud… break a literally fly down in the stream next to the rice fields 😀 haha it was so funny. And they were so scared because they felt responsible. anyways -great tips!!

  12. Flavio

    I didn’t have a chance to try bike touring yet. But it definitely looks like a fun adventure. As you have mentioned, there are a lot of things you need to think about before doing it, but the experience is definitely worth it.

  13. Most of the European countries have bicycling touring and way marked cycling routes. Somehow I haven’t done any! I hope I’ll go on one in Belgium soon. Let’s see!

  14. When I was still living in Finland I used to ride my bicycle a lot. Here in California I am too scared of the crazy traffic and non existent bicycle lanes. I see a lot of tourists bicycling at San Francisco for example and always wonder how many accidents there must be. However, in some less crowded places, I think touring with bikes is an excellent idea!

  15. Eve Kay

    Biking tours sound so much fun and really appealing. I can bike but not SO good that I can tour between states or to the mountains and canyons for 1-2 days. A short one could be doable though. Thanks for the idea and tips!

  16. Sandy N Vyjay

    Bicycle tours are indeed a great way to see places. I feel you get much closer to the place and as you mentioned you are able to go to places which otherwise would have been inaccessible. Of course one needs to be prepared and aware of basic steps to take to ensure that the trip is smooth, you have given some really useful and practical pointers in this direction.

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