What makes a dream cycling trip?
When you first set out on planning your dream cycling trip there are many things to consider. Here is a list of things to consider and help you along on your adventure.
Location, location, location.
Yep you’ve heard it before but picking the right location is really the starting point for any dream cycling trip. These days we are spoiled for choice as there are so many great locations to choose from, so it can be tricky to know where to start. Do your research, talk to friends, travel agents, tour operators and speak with your local cycling community to get ideas. There is nothing better than a referral from a trusted friend or cycling buddy.
Alternatively watch the pro races and see if there are any locations that inspire you. Once you have an idea of the location, check that the terrain is appropriate for you level of riding, also will it meet your expectations. If the trip is going to challenge you, do you need to allow sufficient time to train and prepare to make sure your fitness is up to the mark.
Timing is everything.
Once you decide on your location think about the best time of year to go there. The high mountains like the Alps and Pyrenees are best tackled in the summer months when temperatures should be more consistent. Mediterranean climates can be a great place for spring and autumn/fall riding, bear in mind they can get very hot in the summer months which is not to everyone’s liking. Heading South is a safe bet for the winter months, either southern Europe, the southern States of the US or even the southern hemisphere where summer is in full swing. Finally try and avoid holiday periods when crowds will be out in force with possible extra traffic on the roads. After all we want the roads to ourselves for our dream cycling trip.
A picture says a thousand words.
And this is so true of a dream cycling trip. There is little point going somewhere to ride unless the scenery is exciting, whether it be mountains, coastal vistas or rolling hills with vineyards and farms. Chose a location that inspires you, as you will want to take plenty of photos and video to capture the experience.
Choose your team.
Who you travel with can be so important to make a dream cycling trip a memorable occasion. It can be so rewarding to share those special memories with some of your closest cycling friends or family. Some people prefer to travel alone and meet new friends on a pre-organized trip and others like to invite their entire cycling club. Just make sure that when planning a trip, you consider the needs and abilities of the individuals. It’s not always possible to keep everyone happy all of the time so the secret is to consult with all participants in order to choose the best fit.
Food is a very personal thing which can really make a dream cycling trip special and give it that extra dimension. There are many places I like to ride not just because of the scenery but because I love the local food. One of the joys of travelling is to experience the local cuisine, relax the rules a little and indulge in the delicacies that your chosen destination has to offer. Whilst there why not push the boat out and try the local wines, and don’t worry about the extra calories, if you ride hard enough you will surely burn them off.
Where you rest your head each night can really make or break a trip. Some people like to get off the beaten track, all they need is a bed, however others want to live it up in the life of luxury and be pampered after their daily riding efforts. If luxury is important to you think carefully about whether the area you plan to ride has the standard of accommodation you desire, also are the facilities, restaurants and Services they offer what you need.
Some of my favourite places to ride don’t even have a 3 star hotel let alone a 5 star and in many ways that is what makes them so special. It’s all a matter of preference at the end of the day. Make sure what you choose is right for your taste and budget. Oh! and don’t forget to check they allow bikes!
Travelling to a destination in itself can be an adventure and with limited time and resources we all want to make it as stress free as possible. If you plan on flying think about flight times and time zones you may cross. If your flying half way around the world you may need extra time to adjust and acclimatize before you hit the saddle. Some locations require long transfers from airports and may need a combination of different public transports (busses, trains, taxi’s etc.) to get you there. If a destination takes a number of days of traveling is it really worth your time and effort.
Finally, if you have limited time then riding somewhere that only requires a short flight and a transfer can be just the ticket for a quick getaway or a long weekend.
Travel with a bike or rent.
There are many great cases out there now to protect your treasured bike whilst travelling. Try to find one that gives enough protection, is not too bulky and easy to roll in and out of the airport. Also consider how much of your bike you will need to disassemble in order for it to fit into your case. If you need a full workshop to reassemble it at the other end then this could chomp into valuable time when you arrive. A hard case offers the best protection, however there are also a few soft cases available now that come very close and are a lot easier to pack, travel with and store on your trip. One of our favourites is the soft case from Scicon.
If the thought of lugging your bike on public transport doesn’t fill you with excitement, then why not rent one instead. Contact a local bike shop, send them the measurements from yours back home, they should be able to organize a suitable bike that is set up to your requirements. To really make the bike feel at home, take your own saddle, shoes and pedals and have them fit it to your rental bike on arrival. What could be better.
As you can see there are many things to consider when designing your dream cycling trip but it doesn’t have to be so daunting a task. The planning can often be as much fun as the trip itself, as you put in the extra riding and get motivated and inspired. The magic in creating a great trip comes from seeking the perfect blend of all these elements to best fit the needs of the group. It is often the details that make the difference and that’s where getting professional support and advice can really help. For ideas check out our All Bike Tours list, or if you want something a little more bespoke why not have a Custom Tour designed for yourself or your group. Lastly as with all great holidays/vacations, don’t forget to have fun!