Planning a cycling trip? Whether it’s a casual ‘wine and watts’ trip with your friends, or a rigorous training camp focused on performance gains, there is not much better than combining travel and cycling.
A great cycling trip can stay with you a long time, creating memories that you and your co-travelers will look back on and bring up in conversation for years. Of course, every trip is different and there’s no magic formula for success when it comes to planning one.
However, as experts in the bike travel space – and participants on more than a couple of great trips through the years ourselves – the Nomad Frontiers team has noticed a couple ‘key ingredients’ to what makes a great cycling trip.
It goes without saying that the destination can make or break a cycling trip. Not just for the Instagram shots, but the memories as well. Perhaps you want to sample a new culture, or maybe you want to stay relatively local and just explore new roads. Make sure you do your research before settling on a destination – if you and the group are after some solitary miles in the mountains, don’t pick somewhere that’s popular with motor-tourists… the Stelvio in Italy may be one of the most famously beautiful roads in the world to cycle up, but most summer days you’ll find its slopes absolutely choked with motor traffic, which kinda takes the shine off all those gorgeous switchbacks.
Equally, sometimes too much seclusion can be a bad thing. Your base for your trip should be somewhere with a few amenities – there’s nothing worse than finishing a long ride and discovering all the restaurants in town close early on Sundays and the only food option left is the gas station on the edge of town.
Not every trip has to have you riding in 30º Celsius and filled with shots of you and your buddies lounging by the pool after a hard day in the hills, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Unless you’re the type that seeks out the treachery of winter, make sure you check the forecasts of your chosen destination before booking any trips. Similarly, you don’t want to throw yourself into ridiculously high temperatures and end ‘Day 1’ with sunstroke – find a middle ground, one that you’ll be comfortable riding in, but will also allow you to make the most of being on vacation off the bike.
This could be even more important than the first two points. Think about it: You’ll be spending almost every waking minute with the people you choose to go on a cycling trip with, so don’t hesitate about being picky with your selection of company. Nobody wants to be stuck riding next to or bunking with the whiner of the group. Similarly, if you’re after a more chilled-out, laid-back experience, maybe don’t add your buddy’s buddy who is a semi-pro cyclist to the invite list!
Cycling trips can be great places for making enjoyable memories, so make sure you’re confident in your choice of tag-alongs.
There’s nothing more disappointing than spending hours and hours planning a trip only to be completely unprepared once you’re there. If you’re struggling with planning your trip, make sure you check out our handy guide to help take away some of the stresses of organizing. It’s not just ensuring you have the right kit or enough spares and tools with you. Sometimes your expectations within the group aren’t made clear early on and you end up going on a barebones bike-packing odyssey in rural Canada when you thought you were signing up for 40 miles a day and Mai-Tais on the beach. Make sure you talk to each other before booking the trip to ensure you all want the same thing out of the holiday.
Additionally, make sure your bike is ready! If you haven’t ridden it for a while, take it for a service, or do one yourself if you have the know-how. Alternatively, take the stress out of traveling with your bike and book a hire bike! Now is the perfect chance to try out that $10,000 machine your partner suggested you didn’t need. I mean, how dare they!?
It might seem counter-intuitive to train before you go on a cycling trip, but believe us, you’ll be far more comfortable if you know you can put the miles in before you go out and do them. We’re not saying ride imperial centuries every day for a month as you’re planning a cycling trip, but up the ante a little bit and it’ll do wonders for you physically and psychologically as you know you’ll be able to handle the workload come trip time.
Now you know what pitfalls to avoid and what to look out for to make your trip great as you’re planning a cycling trip. Keep an eye out on our website for future cycling trip packages and inspiration to organize your own amazing cycling trip.