The big questions about cycling holidays
Many people ask similar questions about a cycling holiday. They might doubt their fitness or ability or wonder about what to wear. Here we bring you a few of these questions and add the answers.
I presume cycle touring is for young, fit people?
Not at all. Cycle touring isn’t all about Lycra and long distances in the saddle. You can choose a cycle tour holiday to suit your fitness levels and interests. You could cycle 20 miles one day and have a rest day the next. Of course, if you want to put in the miles and achieve 70 to 100 miles in one day, there are cycle tours to suit you as well.
The basic rule is that if your daily aim is 50km per day you should be comfortable riding about 70km in one go before you set off on holiday. Aching legs muscles and saddle sores are a common problem for people who have not taken the training seriously, whether you’re joining a leisurely cycle tour or a full-on long-distance cycle tour.
Check out our blog: How fit do I need to be for a cycling holiday
Go it alone or book with a tour guide company?
The cycling is the easy part compared to the logistics of booking the right accommodation, in the right places and with cycle friendly people. I have had the misfortune to turn up on my bike in a foreign town only to discover that there are no rooms left in hotels and B&Bs. The last thing you want after a day on the bike is to cycle another 10 miles to the next place with accommodation.
Cycle tour companies can also help you to gauge your daily cycling distances. They know the terrain, the route, how many hills there are etc. If you choose a self-guided trip, which most are, you will also receive a book of useful notes and highlights about your route. Some tour guide companies also offer daily support with a van or a support team. So, we suggest you start with a cycle tour holiday company and then decide after that if you want to go it alone on your next trip.
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.
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. Most cycle tour companies will check out the bike hire company to make sure the bikes 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.
What do I wear on a cycle tour?
Comfort is key. So if you are cycling longer distances in warm weather make sure you have 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 normally 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.
Book solo or as a couple?
Cycling holidays can be for solo cyclists, couples or as part of a group. You decide. A self-guided trip can cater for any number of cyclists. It’s a good idea to keep the group to a manageable number, or split into groups of similar speeds for each day’s tour. Other group cycle holidays can be joined as a solo cyclist or a couple. Think about what you’re looking for in a holiday. You might want to enjoy a trip on your own or as a couple. Then again, you might fancy meeting up with like-minded people on holiday.
Cycling versus walking holidays
Each holiday has its advantages and it depends on what you’re looking for. You will cover more miles on a bike so you will see more places. At walking pace you might see things in greater detail. If you like cycling, then a cycle holiday is for you.
Do you have any other questions about cycling holidays and tours?