As an enthusiastic but amateur cyclist I look forward to weather that allows me to cycle outdoors in preparation for upcoming cycle tours. I’ve done many European cycle tours and find it a great way to see cities and countryside, meet local people and eat and drink without worrying about weight. I took the plunge after reading about a Toronto woman who went on a tour in Tuscany with only some local riding as training. While I would recommend a little more preparation, it is not necessary to be a pro rider to enjoy travelling as a cyclist. European drivers are used to cyclists and are generally more tolerant making biking a more pleasant experience.
Many companies offer tour packages which may be guided(more expensive) or self guided. The tour type you choose will be influenced by cost and how self sufficient you are about bike mechanics. Taking your own bike is one option but I’ve usually chosen to use or rent bikes as part of a tour. I’ve always had good, well maintained bikes. Finding parts for your own bike can sometimes be a problem in some areas and lugging a bike box is not always fun on trains and cobblestones if you do more travel outside of your tour.
Tours are a stress free way to enjoy your cycle experience as your luggage is moved and accommodation and many meals are booked. Some tours stay in one location and offer daily loop rides. Route directions are available in formats ranging from maps and print to GPS to my favourite - chalk dust arrows on the road. Depending on the tour company and rider proficiency, rides may be as a group or at your own pace. Your only job for the day is to ride, take photos and hydrate any way you choose.
I’ve met new people and made many friends on tours(offering more opportunities to visit and cycle). Solo travellers have been made welcome on any tours I’ve been on. Tour guides are knowledgeable about routes and how to tackle any cycling challenges, local cuisine, customs and history and help with languages( Danish & Slovenian are not among my talents).
Packing light is recommended as it makes travel and daily packing for luggage transfer easier. Most tours are casual affairs so evening wear is not necessary. Light washable clothing allows for quick drying. A Cat5gear case I bought for daily cycle equipment organization is a perfect on board case for helmet, shoes, pedals, seat and one day of cycling clothing. This solves the problem of lost luggage before a tour start as cycle gear isn’t always easy to obtain locally.
I’m often asked which is my favourite bike tour. I’ve never been on one I didn’t like so it’s hard to answer. Tired of your regular cycling routes? Try a cycling trip. You’re sure to like it!