14 Essential Facts about Biking Vacations
Who are biking vacations for?
Biking vacations are for everyone. There is no age barrier and no rigorous fitness barriers. You could be relatively new to biking, be a family with young children, or someone returning to biking in later life. Perhaps you're already an accomplished cyclist, but you would like an enjoyably active vacation, or maybe you want to conquer those hills and put in the miles while immersing yourself in another culture. None of this matters. Whatever your age, stage, fitness, and ability, there is a biking holiday for you.
The benefits of biking
A biking vacation allows you to explore a region of a country in-depth and at a pace that will enable you to drink it all in (sometimes literally if you are doing a food and drink biking tour!) For instance, discovering the backroads of Tuscany gives you an immersive experience of Tuscan life, covering a large area of the region, interacting with the local people, and seeing parts that you couldn't discover on a group tour or in the car. A biking vacation also offers the fantastic benefit of returning home fitter than when you left for your vacation!
Self-guided but signposted
Biking tours will rarely require a great deal of navigation. However, if you are worried about visiting a new country and exploring on two wheels, the perfect trip for you is one that is easily navigated and regularly signposted. With most of our biking tours, you are either loaned a GPS unit or rely on the Macs App to make sure you stay on route, so the navigation does not mean a lot of stopping and starting and checking maps.
Themed biking vacations
Many biking vacations will include a focus each day, such as historical or cultural places of interest to visit. For example, in France visit, the Chateaux and Gardens of the Loire provide seven days of cycling leisurely between glorious French castles and gardens. Or how about taking on a spiritual adventure vacation in sunny Spain? Our Cycling Camino Frances: Leon to Santiago tour sees you complete the iconic camino journey on two wheels!.
Luggage is not your concern
A supported biking tour offers the bonus of being luggage-free. Macs Adventure will take your luggage from each overnight accommodation to the next. This leaves you free to enjoy pannier-less biking, which means you'll quickly cover the daily mileage. In addition, some vacations are based in just one or two places, or uniquely on a boat, such as a Bike and Barge trip, so that your luggage stays in one or two places or onboard the vessel that you meet at the end of each biking day.
Take the days as they come
Another advantage of most biking tours is the opportunity to take each day as it comes. You might wake up in the morning and decide that you are full of energy and would like to bike for many hours. But you might also be keen to spend some days not pedaling at all or for only an hour or so. Most easier-graded cycle tours have lots of flexibility built into them to cater to all fitness levels and aspirations.
No need for Lycra
Many people are put off biking and biking vacations because they think they will need to wear Lycra padded shorts. Comfort is key. So if you are biking long distances in warm weather, we recommend Lycra padded shorts (wear your baggy shorts over the top if you're self-conscious) and a wicking sports top. A helmet, bike gloves, Merino wool baselayer, waterproof jacket, and trainers, or SPD pedals and shoes if you're pedaling a long way. Wear what you would typically wear for biking at home but remember it could be warmer, so it's a good idea to have a few technical items, such as breathable sports and biking tops, for extra comfort. There is no need to wear full biking gear if you don't feel comfortable doing it.
What about the bike mechanics?
It's a good idea to know how to fix a puncture or change an inner tube. We'd suggest that if you ride a bike anywhere, even to the local shops, you should know how to rescue yourself if you have a puncture. It's also helpful to know how to replace a chain link and make minor adjustments to derailleurs and brakes. An introductory bike maintenance workshop at a local bike shop will teach you all this and more. Or, YouTube is a fantastic resource for learning these simple things. Finally, check Evans Cycles guide to fixing a puncture and take it from there.
Do I take my bike or hire one locally?
This depends on the type of tour. A hire bike on a more leisurely biking vacation will be fit for the purpose. Macs Adventure makes sure all the hire bikes we use are of good quality. However, if you are a keen cyclist or going longer distances, take your own bike. You'll know that it fits well, and any discomfort far outweighs the extra cost of transporting the bike to the biking vacation from hiring an unfamiliar bike.
Can I Book solo?
Most trips can be booked for a solo cyclist; there are generally no restrictions (apart from paying a single supplement for your room). Biking solo means that you have complete control over the pace of your trip. You can put your foot down or choose to stop wherever you want and as often as you wish.
What training should I do?
No matter how easy a biking vacation you choose, it is a good idea to do some prep before you go. For a more in-depth look at this, you can read our blog How Fit Should I Be for a Cycling Holiday?
Keep your energy up
It's all too easy to forget to eat properly. This might sound strange, but most cyclists know how this can be. You are happily cycling along one minute, and then the next, you suddenly feel drained and empty.
The key to good long-distance cycling is to eat small and often – and don't forget. A snack, such as a cereal bar, flapjack, small sandwich, fruit cake, banana, or dried fruit, every 40 minutes works well. It would be best to stop for a more substantial meal every two to three hours. Remember to start early with your carbohydrate snacking and keep it up throughout the ride.
Even in cool conditions, you will sweat a lot as you pedal. Sometimes it's difficult to see how much water is lost to sweating because it wicks away as you ride. But you will need to drink water and energy drinks throughout the ride. So start early and sip your water every 10 to 15 minutes for s long as you ride. And never let yourself become super thirsty.
The key is to turn the pedals faster in easier gear rather than to push hard through harder gears. The number of revolutions of your pedals is called cadence, and it's far better to have a faster, more natural rhythm than to have a slow and laborious cadence. Watch how the professionals ride in the races. You'll need to learn how to increase your cadence because it doesn't always come naturally, but if you think about riding comfortably and never forcing the pedals round, you should be fine.