Are you planning your first cycle tour and feeling overwhelmed?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Cycle touring can be a fantastic way to see the world and have unique travel experiences, but it’s normal to have questions and concerns about how to plan your trip.
To help you get started, here is the ultimate guide to planning your first cycle tour. Also read these cycle touring tips.
The first step in planning your cycle tour is deciding where you want to go. Consider factors such as the climate, terrain, and distance. You should also think about your budget and how long you want to be on the road. Just remember, cycle touring is all about the journey, rather than the destination.
Once you have a general idea of your destination, it’s time to start planning your route. You can use resources such as RideWithGPS (my personal favourite), cycle touring blogs, and cycling forums to help you find the best routes. Consider factors such as the difficulty of the terrain, the availability of services, and the beauty of the scenery. RideWithGPS makes it super easy to get an idea of the difficulty of the terrain.
For your first cycle tour, it is a good idea to use a pre-planned, tested route, such as my Somerset Circle route. That’s so you can have peace of mind that the route is taken care off, leaving you one less thing to worry about.
There are a few different options for accommodation on a cycle tour, including camping, hostels, and hotels. Decide which option is best for you based on your budget and personal preferences. You can use websites such as Warm Showers (a hospitality exchange website for cycle tourists) to find free accommodation with local hosts, and there’s even the superb Welcome To My Garden. If you’ll be taking trains at all, read my guide to taking your bike on the train, and check out the Rail Hike Camp Map
Gather your gear
Make a list of all the gear you will need for your cycle tour, including items such as a tent, sleeping bag, stove, and spare inner tubes. Don’t forget to pack enough clothing and personal items for the duration of your trip. A packing list is really useful here! You should also consider purchasing insurance for your gear in case of loss or damage.
When cycle touring, even if staying in B&Bs, you will still need to carry gear on the bike. Consider the options open for you to carry luggage on your bike.
If camping, have a look at what camping gear you may need.
Get in shape
Physical fitness is an important aspect of a successful cycle tour. Start training several months in advance by increasing your cycling distance and intensity gradually. This will help you build up your endurance and strength, and reduce the risk of injury on your trip.
When things go wrong
It’s important to be prepared for emergencies on a cycle tour. Carry a first aid kit, a repair kit for your bike, and a basic toolkit. You should also know how to change an inner tube and perform basic bike maintenance. It’s a good idea to tell someone the route you’ll take, and when you expect to return.
If you use one of my GoCycle routes, and the excellent RideWithGPS app, you can live-share your location with friends and family. That way, they can vicariously share in your adventure, and have peace of mind that you’re OK.
Determine how much you can afford to spend on your cycle tour and create a budget accordingly. This will help you make informed decisions about things like accommodation and travel costs. Don’t forget to factor in expenses such as food, water, coffee and any entrance fees or activities you want to do.
Safety and Security
Cycle touring, especially solo touring, can present unexpected challenges. For example, when needing to use the toilet in an urban setting, you will usually have to leave your bike unattended. Always lock your bike, even if you’ll only be away from it for 30 seconds. Trust your gut – if a situation doesn’t feel right, if you can, leave immediately.