From deciding on the location, to the company that you bring along, there is a lot to think about when planning a cycling trip. But once you’ve decided that you and your bike need a vacation, it’s time to start planning the details – will you be taking your own bike? What sort of riding will you be doing? Get you and your group organized with our handy guide to planning a cycling trip below.
One of the first things you need to nail down is what type of vacation or cycling trip you want. It could be that you’re after a hardcore training camp for you and your cycling club buddies, or something more leisurely so you can ride with your family, or perhaps you just want to explore somewhere new and have an adventure. Either way, make sure you pinpoint what it is you and your riding partners want out of the trip as it will help in choosing your ideal destination.
The last thing you want is half the group ploughing on ahead and the other half deciding they’d rather spend a day by the pool – make sure you discuss the possible routes and types of rides you want to do before booking. And make sure you pick targets that aren’t too overly ambitious. For example, if you’ve never ridden a century before, planning to ride three in a row is probably a little too ambitious. On the flip side, don’t make it boring! If you personally are after some mountains and you end up riding at the base of them or on the flat, you won’t enjoy yourself – make sure the group’s priorities are aligned.
The location is going to be the biggest decision you have to make, so choose wisely. Do you want to ride in the mountains, take in some flatlands, or do you fancy seeing the sights? Once you’ve narrowed down your terrain choice, you’ll need to decide just how far you’re willing to travel. Will this trip be a province or a county away? Will you be looking into flying somewhere, perhaps with a better climate than where you live and ride now? If you choose to go across any borders, make sure you have the right travel documentation to allow you to enter the country.
An additional aspect to planning your cycling trip is deciding whether you want to ride a full-on tour, going from one point to another, like Trans Am, or whether you want to set up a ‘base camp’ and ride different routes from there. The benefits of riding from one location are that the amenities will be familiar, and you’ll know what to expect from your hotel or B&B. It also reduces the complexities of having to make sure that each night’s stay is booked in advance, which would also put pressure on the group to ride to a certain mileage each day, whereas having a base allows for flexibility in your planning. Alternatively, using a tour company could eliminate the need for extra planning if you decide you want to ride from one point to another.
Now you know where you will be planning your cycling trip, have you decided when you’ll be going? There are several things to consider, including prices, temperature, and of course if everything is going to be open. Accommodation prices tend to be higher when the kids are on school vacation as there is more demand. Summer is always going to be the most popular season. The warm temperatures seem to bring everyone and their dog on vacation so make sure you plan for this and account for extra traffic, which is particularly important while you’re riding on the roads.
Temperatures and climates will vary depending on the destination, so make sure you check the forecast beforehand so you can pack accordingly – there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a mountaintop snowstorm wearing only a short sleeve jersey because you didn’t check the forecast!
If you’re driving to your destination, chances are you can just put your own bike in the trunk or on the roof with no trouble. But if you decide to plan a cycling trip to somewhere that requires flying, you need to make a decision – do you take your bike or do you rent one?
If you’re taking your bike with you, make sure you pack it securely and take the tools you’ll need to reassemble it at your destination. Don’t rely on there being tools to use or a local bike shop there to help you with reassembly, be self-sufficient and take your own equipment. We know travelling with bikes on planes can get a bad rap, even professionals have had bad experiences with their bikes being damaged, so make sure you pack it securely and with lots of padding.
If you decide to rent a hire bike, make sure you book in advance – don’t be the person that wings it hoping the shop will have the latest Trek Madone only to find out they’ve run out and only have a 2003 bike with v-brakes. Hiring a bike can be a perfect way of testing out the latest high-end model without the cost of buying it, and can save you time while your friends are putting their bikes back together and disassembling at either end of the trip. And you’ll have extra time for lounging by the pool – result!
Once you’ve decided on the location, the bike situation, and your company, the next part of planning a cycling trip is the accommodation. Hotels can offer a certain luxury to a trip otherwise spent sweating, and they may have extra add-ons like gym access, a pool, or even a spa for those rest days. The downside to a hotel is that not all are keen on cyclists keeping bikes in their rooms, and you’ll likely have to budget for all your meals.
Another popular type of accommodation is self-catered. This could be an Airbnb, for example, where you all chip in and split a house or a lodge with separate rooms. This type of accommodation is great for those who want to focus on riding and don’t mind cooking as a group. This is most likely the cheaper option too.
Even the professionals can only cycle a certain number of hours in the day, so think about what you want to be doing during your downtime. Are you a yogi at heart? Do you like to treat yourself to the occasional sports massage? Make sure you look up the facilities at your location and decide what else there might be to do while you’re not on your bike.
Stay tuned for how Nomad Frontiers can help you take a lot of legwork and guesswork out of planning your future cycling trip. Your dream cycling trip is our business.