Discover the Ultimate Guide on How to Prepare for a Bike Tour Like a Pro

Author: Kier

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How to prepare for a bike tour involves careful planning, considering factors such as route selection, gear readiness, and physical conditioning.

A long-distance bike tour is an incredibly exciting and rewarding way to enjoy our sport while exploring new destinations.

Whether you’re planning on exploring the countryside at home or looking to travel to an overseas destination, this guide will help you do so safely, enjoyably, and above all – be prepared!

To get the most out of your trip, proper preparation is vital. Over the years, you learn little tricks that make bicycle touring more enjoyable.

You must prepare your bicycle and yourself for the rigors of being on the road.

A little preventative maintenance and preparation will help make the journey safe and enjoyable.

This guide provides you with many of the most essential steps that you must take to prepare for a bicycle tour like a pro. It will cover the tips, tricks, and essential gear that I found makes trips easier.

Key Takeaways: How to Prepare for a Bike Tour

  • Bike tours require physical preparation, both for you and your bike.
  • Careful route planning helps to keep you safe, and packing the right gear helps enormously.
  • Test any new gear before the trip to prevent unwanted surprises.
  • Always book your accommodations ahead of time to avoid disappointment, especially if you’re traveling in season.
  • Familiarize yourself with the local laws and always prepare for emergencies.
two cyclist learning how to prepare for a bike tour

Planning Your Bicycle Touring Route

Each continent has its challenges, affecting how you plan your bicycle touring routes.

The first step in selecting a destination is to choose a route that suits both your experience on a bicycle and your physical fitness.

An overseas bicycle tour is best planned well in advance so you have time to train for the rigors ahead.

Remember, you’ll be passing through the countryside and towns at a much slower pace than you would otherwise do if you were traveling in a car.

This allows you to indulge your interests and plan stops at interesting places that pique your imagination.

Research the terrain

First, research the area you plan to visit and find the best roads, trails, and scenic spots. Once you have a general idea of the terrain that you will be traveling through, you can make specific decisions about where you’ll go.

If you are going with a group, then your bicycle tour planning must take into account the experience and fitness levels of your companions. Consider planning rest days to recuperate.

Plan alternate routes should unforeseen circumstances cause you to change course.

With the advent of Google Maps and other navigational aids, you can plan your route using the latest maps and even see pictures of road conditions.

Plan to take a GPS device with you while bicycle touring. Whether it’s a separate attachment or included on your phone, GPS makes navigating your route way easier.

If you plan on traveling in a group, practice navigating beforehand. Work out a communication system while on the road so the other riders know what to expect.

When planning your route, look for destinations with bike-friendly infrastructure. Bike lanes or dedicated mountain bike trails will make your life much easier.

Want to save on transportation costs, especially if you’re traveling halfway around the world? Then check to see if bike rentals are available at your destination.

cyclist looking at the road whilst ascending the col du telegraphe and col du galibier

Getting in Shape for Cycle Touring

If it’s your first bike tour, it’s a good idea to start training well before you plan to leave on your bike trip. This will help you to build up endurance and strength and prepare you for cycle touring.

You’re going to encounter a wide range of terrain, including hills. So, incorporate lots of different types of training, such as hill repeats and long-distance rides, into your preparation.

You may tend to cycle too quickly while you are on your bike trip, so practice pacing yourself during your training rides.

On your practice rides, aim to include some time with loaded panniers and bike bags, so you can get used to the added weight you’ll be taking with you.

It’s also probably a good idea to consult with your doctor or a fitness professional before departure. If you have any health issues or injuries that might affect you on a bike trip, sort them out before you leave.

Small problems and niggles can become serious if they are not attended to properly. This is especially true if you’re far from medical assistance.

Packing the Right Gear for a Cycling Tour

Let’s turn our attention to choosing the right bike touring gear. If you plan on going off-road, a more off-road, gravel-focused bike is necessary.

Whether you’re planning on using your existing bicycle or purchasing a new one, you must make sure that it is in good condition. Have it properly serviced before departing.

Apart from packing daily essential gear like a helmet, you need a water bottle or camel pack, spares, and a means to navigate. Throw in a change of lightweight clothing as well.

Weather and terrain-appropriate clothing are essential. Remember that layering your clothing will help you to stay warm and dry.

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Don’t over-pack!

Remember, you’ll be carrying it with you wherever you go. Lightweight panniers, camping gear, and enough spares will take up a considerable amount of the load that you carry.

If you plan on touring regularly, it’s a good idea to invest in high-quality gear that is both durable and comfortable.

black_mountain_bike_on_roadjpg

Learn the Local Language

When traveling to foreign countries, learning a few of the basic phrases in the local language will make a huge difference. The locals will appreciate your attempts at communicating with them.

Also, consider taking a water filter or purification tablets, as certain areas have limited access to clean water.

You can improve your comfort by bringing a lightweight, portable rain jacket and pants in the event of unexpected downpours.

If you’re cycling in particularly hot climates, wearing a bandana or neck gaiter is a great idea. They help keep sweat out of your eyes and protect your neck from the sun.

Testing Your Cycling Tour Gear

Never leave home without first testing every item of gear that you intend to use on your long-distance bike tour. You can visit a bike shop where they can help you test your touring bike.

They’ll make sure that all your gear works properly and is in good condition.

Visit your local bike shop

Your bike shop can also help to adjust your bike fit and make any necessary adjustments and alignments before you set off.

They can check your brakes, gears, and other components to see if they are properly aligned and serviceable.

original pedallers store inside storefront

While you are touring, it’s a good idea to check your brakes, chain, and other equipment regularly. This helps to prevent problems while you’re on the road.

If you don’t have the experience, get some practice repairing flat tires.

Here are a few of the more common equipment failures that you may experience while on a long-distance bike tour:

  • Chain issues: while traveling over uneven surfaces, your chain can come off, break, or wear out. This happens more often than not while you are shifting or pedaling hard.

    Ensure that you check your chain thoroughly before setting off on your journey.
  • Shifting problems: If you’re involved in an accident, derailleur hangers can get bent. Shifting cables may also stretch, which causes additional problems while changing gears.

    If you’re traveling overseas with your bicycle, damage in transit can also affect your gear shift. It pays to check the derailleur carefully before setting off, especially if you suspect the airline handled your bike roughly.

    And, always carry a spare rear mech hanger, as these can be unique to specific bikes and unlikely to be stocked in bike shops.
  • Wheels: It is not uncommon for rims to crack or warp, and occasionally wheel bearings wear out or axles bend or break.

    It’s well worth the effort to give them a once-over and disassemble the wheel if it’s over a couple of years old.
  • Saddle and handlebar issues: After a while, saddles can become uncomfortable, especially if they are new, so get the miles in beforehand on a new saddle.

    Handlebars may shift or come loose on your bike ride. Before setting off, make sure that they’re all positioned and tightened correctly.
  • Pedal and shoe problems: Pedals often come loose or wear out due to increased use. Tight shoes also cause problems, as do not having the right cycling shoe insoles.

If you plan on camping with a tent, then it’s a good idea to practice setting it up and ensuring that your mattress or sleeping pad is comfortable.

Practice breaking the tent apart and packing it into its bag a few times. This takes practice to get right and can be especially difficult if weather conditions are poor and you’re tired.

Don’t forget to take some extra tent pegs and paracord in case you should need them.

You may also wish to practice cooking with your camping stove and utensils. Bearing in mind that cooking outdoors may be a little more challenging than expected, especially if there are strong winds.

black_bicycle_on_brown_sand_near_body_of_water

Booking Accommodation

When booking your bike touring accommodation, it’s always a good idea to book ahead to ensure that you avoid any last-minute stress.

Choose accommodation that suits your needs and budget. Consider all your options, including campsites, hotels, and hostels. Look for accommodation that is bike-friendly and, ideally, that offers secure bike storage.

Always have a backup plan! In the case of route changes, cancellations, or unexpected stops, mark alternatives on your map.

After a long day in the saddle, you will appreciate amenities like laundry facilities and secure bike storage.

Consider planning your bike tour during the off-peak season so that you can take advantage of discounts and lower rates.

Familiarizing Yourself with Local Laws

It makes sense to check out the local laws and regulations, especially as they pertain to cyclists. Certain areas require bike helmets and other specific traffic rules for cyclists.

Follow local customs and etiquette while on the road. Always wear bright clothing and use lights if you plan to ride at night.

Make sure you know of any potential dangers and hazards, and make a list of the local emergency numbers in each area you’re passing through.

Dealing With Emergencies on Touring Bicycle Tours

It’s good practice to prepare for emergencies on a long-distance bike tour. Expect flat tires, injuries, ill health, or inclement weather on a long bike tour, and prepare for them.

At the very least, carrying a first aid kit and knowing basic first aid can be a lifesaver. Ensure that everybody in your party knows the plans for contacting emergency services.

Make sure that they have the appropriate numbers entered on their phones.

Always stay aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts to help avoid getting into trouble.

Tips and Experiences While Long Distance Bike Touring

Everyone enjoys hearing about new places and interesting facts and figures. So, feel free to share your own tips and experiences while preparing for your bike tour.

Don’t forget to take a small, lightweight camera, as it will help capture memories and assist you in documenting your cycling trip.

Nowadays, smartphones are perfect for taking photos and have largely replaced the need for a separate camera.

If you have any questions or wish to leave your tips, please drop them in the comments below.

We would love to see your photos and hear stories from your adventures too.

cyclist with a camera to document his cycling trip

FAQs

How many miles should you go on a bike tour a day?

It is recommended that an average rider travel between 24 and 43 miles per day.

How do I prepare for a 100-mile bike ride?

Follow our training for a century ride plan! This is a 16-week plan to get ready for a 100-mile bike ride.

How can I cycle longer without getting tired?

Pro cyclists suggest that keeping well hydrated and fueled is the key to delaying tiredness. Ensure you get plenty of fluids and consume energy foods such as bars and drink mixes regularly as you go.

References:

https://worldexpeditions.com/blog/ultimate-guide-preparing-cycling-tour

https://www.bicycle-guider.com/bike-trip-preparation/

https://adventurepossible.com/bike-across-america-tips/10-tips-for-preparing-for-your-first-long-distance-bike-tour/

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/bike-tour-packing-goal-training.html

https://www.davestravelpages.com/bicycle-touring-tips/

Photo of author

Author

Kier focuses on improving all things bike, and is always looking to take his ability to a new average (hopefully a higher one!). When not on the bike Kier is normally downing coffee and cake.

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