Is cycle touring right for you?

Do you remember the sense of freedom you had when you were a child, and you could hop on your bicycle and pedal off on adventures with your friends? Have you wondered if you can ever experience that same sense of freedom and enjoyment again? Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to go cycle touring?

What is cycle touring?

The clue, as they say, is in the name. Touring is defined as a journey to visit several places in a country, or an area, for pleasure, especially as a holiday. Cycle touring simply means you do so by bicycle. It most certainly doesn’t specify the minimum or maximum distance you should cycle each day, and it doesn’t specify where you should go. To me, cycle touring means spending at least one night away from home, but even that is by no means an absolute.

Cycling the world

If you really wanted to, you can head off and go cycle the world, taking many years. Many people would love to do just that (me included) but life often gets in the way. The good news is cycle touring doesn’t only mean huge adventures, like cycling around the world, but even short, local adventures count, too.

My loaded touring bike on a bridge over the Avon, in Bristol, while cycle touring my Somerset Circle routeCycling in my local area can be cycle touring?

Yes! It absolutely can! I firmly believe in always being a tourist, no matter where you are (also see my Rules For Being  A Tourist). In fact, for people new to cycle touring, I suggest booking into a B&B or inn fairly close to you. Simply cycle there, staying overnight, then cycle home the following day. However, be mindful that most people plan routes with driving in mind. When planning your route, try using a tool like the excellent Cycle Streets journey planner – you will probably be surprised at the better route it offers.

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What, cycle touring without any luggage?

Cycle touring offers a degree of freedom that most people aren’t accustomed to. That freedom extends to how you do cycle touring. If you wanted to load everything but the kitchen sink on your bike, that’s fine. Just remember it’s your legs that have to propel that weight up any hills on your route. Equally, you could carry absolutely no luggage at all. The choice is entirely yours. There is no right or wrong way to go cycle touring.

Having said that, I would strongly advise you to carry emergency snacks as a bare minimum. You’ll probably want to carry a change of clothes, too. I also suggest you go read about the different options for carrying luggage on your bike, and do try to avoid using a backpack.

Can I go cycle touring with an ebike?

Of course! Ebikes are great for cycle touring, but there are a few gotchas to look out for. For starters, if you were planning on taking your ebike on a train, check my Bikes On Trains guide. Sadly, some rail operators in the UK refuse to carry ebikes. Also, obviously you will be limited by the range of the battery, and remember, if you do carry extra weight in the form of luggage on your ebike, that will reduce the range a bit. Finally, you will need somewhere you charge the battery up again, overnight.

Don’t cycle tourers carry tents and go camping?

Camping will always be my personal favourite. Waking up under canvas is a brilliant experience that I will never tire of, but that doesn’t mean you have to camp all the way. When Anna Hughes cycled around the coast of Britain, she didn’t camp at all. If you were thinking of going cycle camping, I have several posts for you to read.

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But where should I go cycle touring?

Anywhere you like, really. That said, especially when you’re new to cycle touring, life would be easier if you used a pre-prepared, tested route guide, such as my Somerset Circle, Devon Coast To Coast or Kennet And Avon Canal route guides. Also have a look at my other route guides. If you have any other questions, you’re likely to find the answer in my Beginner’s Guide To Cycle Touring.

Go on, go have an adventure! Go cycle touring! You can do it, and you will LOVE it!

2 thoughts on “Is cycle touring right for you?”

  1. I’ll be cycle touring over the next few years. Not camping though, it’s just not for me. I can see the attraction of waking up away from it all. But I just don’t want to carry the gear needed.

    • That’s the beauty of cycle touring – there’s no right or wrong way – just do what you prefer and what works best for you.


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