Nervous About Your First Cycling Holiday?
10 minutes by Julian Roberts from epico
Here are some valuable tips on choosing, planning, and going on your first bike tour. We will cover some key points to get you prepared and pumped for your first cycling tour.
Guided And Self-Guided Bike Tours
Guided and self-guided tours provide slightly different experiences, and each has its own set of benefits. On guided tours, for example, riders tend to stick together as a group with the guide. Our guides have been doing this for years, if there is a climb everybody will be waiting at the top and we all go back as one. Nobody is ever left behind.
A self-guided bike tour may be a better option if you are a more independent cyclist who prefers to ride at your own pace and wants to experience a cycling holiday for the first time. If getting lost is a major concern, fear not, all our epico cycling tours are supplied with GPX files and or maps to help you navigate. Don’t own a cycling GPS? Not a problem, you can rent one or even use your smartphone.
If you are concerned about language barriers, a guided tour may be preferable. It is also a great way to make new friends, we have seen many people become friends for life over the years after all being on an epic tour together.
Don’t Overestimate Your Ability Level
You can’t assume that a good fitness level will give you a comfortable cycling experience. Many strong athletes who do a lot of running, swimming, or weight training make the mistake that they’ll do fine on a bicycle tour. Cycling uses a lot of different muscles compared to other sports, and even strong, in-shape athletes find their weariness comes sooner than expected. The great thing is that most of our cycling tours offer the option of an E-bike which is a fantastic way to enjoy a tour.
Check out our rider level guide here.
Spend Some Quality Time In The Saddle
We recommended spending some good time in the saddle regardless of your athletic or cycling ability. Try to ride at least four days per week, some of them consecutively, and try to cover at least 60% of the distance your tour will cover. Begin 6-8 weeks before your tour, or earlier if possible. Your sit-bones and legs will appreciate it.
Be Realistic About The Distance You Wish To Cover Each Day
Remember, you’re on vacation, and there will be a lot to see along the way. You’ll be riding for several days, usually consecutively. Don’t let your weekly Sunday ride serve as a guide. A bike tour also moves at a much slower pace. You’ll find yourself getting on and off your bike to take photos, visit that incredible castle, or grab a croissant. We’ve never heard anyone complain about the daily riding distance.
Consider A Tour On A Dedicated Bike Path
Many self-guided tours are routed on dedicated bicycle paths that are paved, traffic-free, and well-marked. While dedicated bike paths are most common in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, other countries are following suit. This is especially useful if you’re afraid of getting lost. More information on tours along designated bike paths.
Consider Renting an Electric Bicycle
Some purists may shrug, but electric bikes (E-Bikes) are allowing travellers who never thought they could tour on two wheels to do so. We are a big advocate of e-bikes as this allows pretty much anyone to come and ride a tour and enjoy themselves. This isn’t just a matter of fitness; we advise older riders and those recovering from knee surgery to consider an e-bike (consult your doctor before riding). E-bikes are also excellent “equalisers” when two riders have varying abilities.
In Europe, e-bike are quite common, and newer models don’t make it obvious that you’re getting an extra “push.” It should be noted that these are not mopeds. You must still pedal—just not as hard.
Book A Tour In The Off-Season
When you ride just before or after high season, the prices are often lower and crowds are smaller, and you still get all the pluses of a high-season experience. We also offer some amazing tours that run all year round in climates that are pleasant and don’t require heavy winter gear.
Pay Attention To Climate And Weather
Look up average weather conditions and rainfall in the area you’d like to tour. Some like it hot, some like it cold. And most like it dry!
There is no such thing as bad weather; only poor clothing selection. Wear appropriate clothing for the weather. If it’s going to be cold, dress in layers and remove them as the day progresses and temperatures rise. Prepare for the possibility of rain. Carry adequate rain gear to protect your shoes, legs, and torso.
Bring And Wear Your Own Helmet
For reasons of hygiene and safety, we encourage people to bring their own, we do not allow riders with no helmet to ride our tours, it’s a matter of safety. When you bring your own helmet, you know it fits and is in good condition.
The most important thing is that you have fun! We guarantee this is something you will experience on any epico tour, be it in a guided group or on a self-guided ride through the Tuscan hills of Italy. If you have any questions you can speak to any epico rider who will be happy to help you with whatever you need.