How to Bike Tour

June 25, 2018 • Transportation

Camping + Biking = Bike Touring!

Bike touring forces you to enjoy the journey by moving slowly en route to your campsite or hotel instead of whizzing by scenery on a train or overhead by airplane. With eight hours a day in the saddle, you will notice the natural flora and fauna and unique terrain, meet local people, and immerse yourself in different cultures by visiting small towns and tasting local food specialties.

If all of the above sounds like the perfect vacation for you, great! Here are some things to consider when planning a bike tour:

Type of Bike Tour

Trips range from plan-your-own to luxury trips where your route is vetted in advance and your bags are shuttled for you. So you’ll need to be clear on what kind of experience you want. First question: Do you want to travel by yourself?  With family or friends?

Next, get tactical: Would you prefer to bring your own bike, or rent one? How many miles do you wish to bike per day? And how many days you want to be gone? Will you  pack your own gear or pay outfitter to carry it.

Where to go

Choosing a destination and route is the fun part, but where you go also depends on what kind of adventure you’re looking for and how flexible you are when it comes to travel hurdles.

For the noob, Europe is a very popular bike touring destination because of its excellent cycling infrastructure. The roads are safe, public transportation is bike friendly and there is an existing bike culture since most Europeans have toured via bike at some point in their lives, given their generous vacation policies. However, opportunities to bike tour can be found worldwide, from Vietnam to Africa.

Here in the United States, check out the Rails to Trails Conservancy which introduces you to America’s amazing public multi-use trails, from large to small, urban to rural—and everything in between. Also, the Adventure Cycling Route Network has mapped 46,846 miles of cycling routes throughout North America.

What type of accommodations do you want to have

From historic inns and castles, to farms and campgrounds (also known as Bike Packing), you can pick accommodations based upon your budget and the type of experience you are seeking. Or check out Warm Showers, a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. Another joy of bike touring is that you don’t always have to book accommodation reservations in advance.  You can play each day by ear and get a motel or campground as you go.

Want more? 

Check out the inspiring presentation SAP Software Engineer Piaw Na gave to Stanford Research Park bicyclists and his Independent Cycle Touring book. Piaw shares tips from his years spent bike touring all over the world (with an emphasis on Europe), including where to go, when to go, route planning, how to pick cycle buddies and more! 

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