What Advice Would You Give To Someone Planning His Or Her First Bicycle Tour?

Three bicycle tourist asking one another for cycle touring advice

First-time bicycle tourists ask me for advice all the time… but now I want to hear what you have to say.

If you’ve ever been on a bicycle tour before, whether it be a short tour near your home or a long-distance bicycle touring adventure, what advice would you give to someone who was planning his or her first bike tour? What is the one piece of advice you feel is essential for the first-time bicycle traveler to know?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you have to say.


13 thoughts on “What Advice Would You Give To Someone Planning His Or Her First Bicycle Tour?

  1. Marti says:

    Don’t try to go too far the first few days; take it easy and get used to being on the bike. Soon enough you’ll be riding as far as you’d like.

    Don’t make a tour about the distance–it’s more about the people you meet along the way and the interesting places you find along the way.

    Join Warmshowers.org and meet some great folks who are excited to have you stay with them.

  2. leslie says:

    i’ve not yet done a bicycle tour, so i can’t give any advice myself, but what advice would you give darren to someone like me who is actually planning her first bicycle tour?

  3. Tom says:

    Stated above but I will say it again as it is so common, people pack way too much stuff. On my first trip I ended up throwing things out and on other trips I’ve had colleagues mail clothing to our final destination.

    I bicycle tour a lot in Europe and my cycling colleagues want to visit every castle, museum, etc. Do your homework before going and be selective picking only a few sights that really are important to you. Be flexible, coming across a small festival in Germany in a small town we joined in before continuing are planned distance for the day.

  4. Tim D says:

    Imagine you meet a cyclist while you are out one day near your home. He or she asks you for some help. At worst you will say you can’t help but try and guide them somewhere where help is available. Probably you will try to help as best you can. Maybe you’ll go way out of your way to help this stranger, this visitor to your town, county, country and go to extreme lengths to sort out their issues?

    When you are out touring, most people are like you! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to accept help.

  5. Tom Knoblauch says:

    Have a destination. Enjoy the places in between. Some times at times,most times it seems, it’s all to much but never enough & how does one measure the miles?

  6. John Cunha says:

    This depends completely on whether you’ve already chosen a company, and what type of tour it is. If you’ve not chosen a company, and you are not Bill Gates, research carefully what type of accomodations and food are provided. If you’re on a fully-supported tour, don’t worry much about embarassment and having to lag behind or be in the wagon once in a while. These tours tend not to emphasize biking power. If you go abroad AND you are really interested in culture beyond just eating, inquire whether the gudies are local, because chances are that if they are not, they won’t know much about the region. Bring cycling rain gear and perhaps pants if you go in early fall. And one odd bit: don’t assume that the recovery process is ideal. Riding multiple days may require more recovery than white wine: pack some kind of protein powder.

  7. Jerry says:

    I took my first long distance bicycle tour this past summer/fall. It was absolutely great. Like others have said, I can’t emphasize enough that its the journey not the destination that matters. Do not, under any circumstances saddle (no pun intended) yourself with a specific number of miles that have to be covered each day. Rather, go with the flow. Let the situation dictate the milage. Some days 70-80 miles will be appropriate, other days, 20 will do just fine. That said, make sure that you have plenty of time to complete your ride. Nothing worse than having to rush through everyday missing great experiences just so you can get done.

    Oh, and you can’t have too many plastic bags.

  8. Johnny says:

    Nutrition is often overlooked when one is bicycle touring. Lots of people think since they are burning so much calories that they can eat anything they want. I want to emphasize that good quality food is important and people should really think more about eating healthy. Know when to eat carbs versus protein to provide energy or help muscle recovery is key to a happier and healthier body. With that being said having treats like ice cream or other treats is not off limits. Just remember to take it in moderation. Your body will thank you for it.

  9. Jesse says:

    Camp in your backyard the equivalent amount of days you’ll be camping on the road. Let your sprinklers rain down on you to fully test ur equipment for unexpected heavy rainfall. Make sure your gearing is low enough for heavy loads and hilly terrain. For starters, a 12-32 minimum rear cluster with at least a 48-36-24 front chainring combination. Take in a motel towards the middle of your trip to give yourself a break. Ride on!

  10. Pavo says:

    Start small, maybe, but just do it, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You don’t need to spend a ton of cash, and in fact the time you went touring with that daggy old mountain bike with the cheap panniers, when you go lost a couple of times, you had to mend a puncture in the rain and all the other little problems, that’s the tour you’ll probably remember most fondly!

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