Posted by Rack Attack on 05-23-2019 under Bike Racks
Blog Main Image

How to Plan a Cycling Tour

Whether for a few days, a week, a month, or something more long term, going on a cycling tour is a great way to experience the great outdoors and, if cycling abroad, a country’s culture. 

So, if you are thinking about going on a cycling tour this Summer, there are a few things you need to think about before being ‘tour-ready’. Here’s our checklist with everything you need to know before getting out on the bike:

Check Your Bike

First things first, never set off on your wheels if your bike isn’t tour-ready. Before any cycling tour, you should check your tires, brakes, gears, and chain to make sure your bike is safe to ride and in good condition to make sure it doesn’t fall apart during the tour. Ask yourself:

  • Are my tires still good (not overly worn) and pumped up properly?
  • Is my bike set up correctly to avoid injury?
  • Are my brakes working and brake pads not overly worn?
  • Are my gears aligned properly (no skipping or grinding)?

If the answer is no to any of these, you should make the necessary adjustments or upgrades. If your bike is ready, it’ll be more comfortable to ride and far more efficient. 

Practice Basic Bike Repair Skills

Going on a cycling tour if you can’t fix a basic bike malfunction is a big no-no. For example, can you repair a puncture if it happens?

If you go on a cycling tour without these basic skills, you could end up costing yourself a fortune having had to pay someone to fix it, or made the bike worse if you couldn’t fix it yourself and cycle on a damaged bike. Plus, you’ll end up wasting plenty of time.

At the bare minimum, you should practice:

  • Changing and patching inner tubes
  • Putting a chain back on the sprocket
  • Adjusting brakes and brake levers

Additionally, when planning your cycling tour, don’t forget to include puncture repair kits, spare inner tubes, pumps and tire levers. Given the distances you cycle on a tour, you can expect to get at least one flat! 

Invest in the Correct Gear

This is another basic requirement - when planning your cycling tour, make sure you have the correct gear. It will make for a more enjoyable and safer ride. Plan for rain, pack a waterproof jacket, invest in a pair of padded cycle shorts (gloves also help on longer rides), get comfortable clip-in shoes if your bike has clip-friendly pedals. And don’t forget about cycling safety - a helmet, cycling lights (especially if cycling in the dark) and high-vis clothing. 

Did you know? The correct configuration for bicycle lights is a solid white light in the front and a flashing red light in the rear. 

Think About How You Will Fuel on the Bike

Getting your fueling strategy right is essential for enjoying a cycling tour. If you are covering lots of ground, you don’t want to run out of water or fuel. Make sure you are carrying enough water bottles to stay hydrated, think about what food you can eat on the move (protein bars and snacks) and make sure you have enough food and drink to get a boost when the going gets tough.

Check out this blog on fueling properly for more guidance.

Don’t Plan Too Much Cycling

When planning a cycling tour, it can be tempting to try and do as much as possible. Resist this temptation. If you overdo it you can be left feeling stiff, tired, and behind schedule from day one.

You want to ensure your muscles have time to fully recover each day and you don’t want to burn out halfway through the tour. Hydrating properly and eating a balanced diet of carbs and protein aids recovery.

Precisely Plan Your Route

One of the most important things for planning a cycling tour is the route. Where are you going to cycle, how long will you cycle each day, is the route cycle-friendly and so on.

There is nothing worse than stop-starting because you are lost or because the route isn’t suitable. Getting it wrong can lead to frustration and unnecessary additional miles. It’s especially important to plan your route properly if you are intending to cycle abroad. 

Decide Whether You Want to use a Base Camp or Travel With Panniers

You can plan a cycling tour two ways: Either choose a base camp and ride off from the same starting point each day or take your stuff with you each day moving from place to place.

If you opt for the latter, you’ll need additional gear to carry your clothes and gear; a backpack and a pannier rack/bags. If you opt for the former, it opens up a few more options. You can either leave your cycling stuff at base camp or you could drive to various places, in which case you’ll need a bike rack. Check out our blog to find out what bike rack fits your car. 

Decide on Your Budget Early

One of the best things about cycling tours is they are a great option for all budgets. If you want to drive somewhere with your bike and keep it cheap, staying in hostels or camping, great. If you want to splash out a bit and get more gear and stay in nice hotels, great. It’s a perfect option for all abilities and budgets. Once you have your core cycling gear, you can plan a tour very cheaply. 

Decide early and plan appropriately. 

Have a Question?