14 Essential Facts about Cycling Holidays
Who are cycling holidays for?
Cycling holidays are for everyone. There is no age barrier and no particularly strict fitness barriers. You could be relatively new to cycling, be a family with young children or someone returning to cycling in later life. Perhaps you’re already an accomplished cyclist, but you would like a holiday that is enjoyably active, 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 cycling holiday for you.
The benefits of cycling
A cycling holiday 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 cycling 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 cycling holiday also offers the fantastic benefit of returning home fitter than when you left for your holidays. Check out our blog about cycling benefits.
Cycling around Lucca, Italy
Self-guided but signposted
Cycling tours will rarely require a great deal of navigation. 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 cycling tours, you are either loaned a GPS unit, or you can rely on 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 cycle holidays
Many cycling holidays will include a focus each day, such as historical or cultural places of interest to visit. For example, the Chateaux and Gardens of the Loire cycling holiday provides seven days of cycling leisurely between glorious French castles and gardens. Meanwhile, an easy to moderate cycle tour holiday called Gourmet Rioja Cycling takes cyclists on a food and drink adventure in stunning Spain.
Food is an integral part of a cycling trip
Luggage is not your concern
A supported cycle tour offers the bonus off being luggage-free. Macs Adventure will take your luggage from each overnight accommodation to the next. This leaves you free to enjoy pannier-less cycling, which means you’ll easily cover the daily mileage. Some holidays are based in just one or two places, or uniquely on a boat, such as the Danube Bike and Boat trip, so that your luggage stays in one or two places or on board the boat that you meet at the end of each cycling day.
Take the days as they come
Another advantage of most cycle tour holidays 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 cycle for many hours. But you might also be keen to spend some days not cycling or cycling for only an hour or so. Most easier-graded cycle tours have lots of flexibility built into them to cater for all fitness levels and aspirations.
No need for Lycra
Many people are put off cycling and cycle tour holidays because they think they will need to wear Lycra padded shorts. Comfort is key. So if you are cycling longer 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, cycle gloves, Merino wool baselayer, waterproof jacket and trainers or, if you’re pedalling a long way, SPD pedals and shoes. Wear what you would typically wear for cycling 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 cycling tops, for extra comfort. There is no need to wear full cycling gear if you don't feel comfortable doing it.
Cycling through parts of a country you would never otherwise experience
What about the bike mechanics?
It’s a good idea to know how to fix a puncture or change an inner tube. In fact, 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 useful to know how to replace a chain link and make minor adjustments to derailleurs and brakes. A basic 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. 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 more leisurely cycling holiday will be fit for purpose. Macs Adventure makes sure all the hire bikes we use are of good quality. If you are a keen cyclist or going longer distance, take your own bike. You’ll know that it fits well and the extra cost of transporting the bike to the cycling holiday is far outweighed by any discomfort from hiring an unfamiliar bike. If you want to know more about an individual tour you can contact our cycling specialists.
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) Cycling 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 want.
No barriers to enjoying a cycling holiday
What training should I do?
No matter how easy a cycling holiday 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.
Eat regularly and in small bursts
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. Every two to three hours you should stop for a more significant meal. 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 cycle. 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 Again, 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 an 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.