If you’re craving the freedom of the open road and a chance to meet the locals, look no further than holidaying on two wheels. It’s more popular than ever before, from two-wheeled commuters and occasional Sunday cyclists to a surge of enthusiasm for organised rides, cyclosportives and lycra-clad challenges.
But if you’ve never done it before, a cycling holiday can seem a bit daunting – and we find most people have the same worries. Will I be fit enough? What do I need to bring? Will I be able to keep up?
Don’t be put off. We’ve compiled a list of all the things you need to know before you saddle up for your first cycling trip, so all you need to focus on is the adventure.
1. A little training goes a long way
Nearly everyone asks, “How fit do I need to be?” The answer varies depending on your choice of trip, but what never changes is this: nothing beats some practice beforehand. We don’t mean hours of sweat-inducing indoor spinning classes, but the real thing: simply getting out on your bike! Even better, if you look at the Trip Notes for your adventure you can see a description of the terrain and distances on the trip, so you can mimic this on your route to see if it’s enjoyable for you. We even have a free Fitness Guide if you want some more detailed advice to follow before you go.
2. You don’t have to cycle every day if you don’t want to
Lots of first time cyclists ask about a contingency plan if the cycling is too much – and the answer is a support vehicle, in the shape of a van or a bus, which can give you a lift if you need it. Most people prefer to cycle if they can – it’s why you came, after all! – but the option is there should you need it.
3. There’s plenty of time for you to pause and take it all in
Although the cycle leaders like everyone to re-group every 15kms or so, how you spend the bits in between is up to you. You may want to stop for a quick hello with the often very curious locals or simply pause at a particularly lovely view and get that all important holiday snap.
4. There’s no need for you to be lugging a rucksack around in the day
Cycling while laden down really takes the fun out of it, especially the case in warmer climes where the breeze circulating through your jersey is an absolute necessity! A small saddle bag will do just the job to carry your essentials (suncream, camera, phone) and anything else can stay with the van so can be grabbed at all stop points.
5. The chances of you getting lost are pretty slim to none
This is another worry of first time cyclists but really needn’t be. Our experienced leaders will likely instead have you concerned that you’re experiencing double vision instead as they work with their team to ensure that someone is always leading from the front and another bringing the back up – meaning all you need to do is pedal away and take it all in!
6. There is very little chance of you getting hungry
Yes, we know that for many their active holiday is a chance to shift a few pounds and although this may happen we might not make it that easy for you! Most trips operate an optional snacking kitty which enables an abundance of local treats to be presented to you at each stop – if you’d rather avoid the biscuits you can of course indulge in the freshly picked pineapple or the electrolyte rich coconut juice straight from the tree (not guaranteed in all destinations!).
7. You definitely don’t need to bring your own bike
All that boxing, packing and setting up can be a right pain so we’ve made sure that the bikes provided in-country tick all the boxes for your holiday. All you need to do it turn up and push those pedals and we do the rest.
8. You can take all your own bike bits and they’ll be fitted for you
Becoming emotionally attached to a saddle is no strange concept to those who cycle regularly so if you want to bring this with you, along with any other bits and pieces (handlebar extensions, pedals), we will make sure that this is fitted for you and ready to go!
9. A cycling jersey really does tick all the boxes and padded shorts are a necessity
To those new to cycling shorts, we know that they take a bit of getting used to and feeling like you’ve regressed to nappy-wearing can be a bit odd. There are absolutely crucial though and do make the world of difference for consecutive days on the road. A cycling jersey is also pretty good for keeping the sun off the right places (back of the neck especially) and for using the back pockets to stash anything you might want quick access to.
10. Cycling might be your new favourite way to see a country!
Getting a waft of herbs being prepared for lunch in a village, hearing chanting from the nearby monastery, or waving at groups of children on their way to school – sitting on a saddle and pedalling with an open mind can give you experiences you couldn’t find any other way. For many, there is no better way to get under the skin of the country you’ve chosen to visit!