It’s a plan that’s been nagging you for a while now – going on an ambitious cycling tour on a racing route or nature trail, either solo or with a group of friends. The idea gives you a thrill every time as you imagine yourself taking in sweet, fresh air, a spectacular landscape, and an ample stretch of miles that will make you proud to cover.
So why not go for it? Collect on your vacation days at work, put on your planning cap, and pitch the trip to your buddies. You only live once, and the joy of being self-reliant on the elegant contraption that is the bicycle for your touring adventure is a splendid feeling to have.
Yet, you’re at a loss as to exactly where to begin, amateur cyclist that you are. A well of questions spring up in your brain such as “Where to go? What bicycle should I get? What gear should I buy?”
Relax. Here are a few tips for how best to prepare for a major long-distance biking expedition, whether cycling solo or with a team, on a nature trail, mountain path or bike race:
- Set Your Destination
What kind of first long-distance ride do you want to have? In a city, such as your hometown, near it or, more ambitiously, at a scenic far-away destination? Will you need to fly or drive to that place? Have a think as to where you’d like to go, time and budget permitting, and research, research, research your list of potential destinations. Gather relevant cycling route and map information, and plan on bringing along your trusty GPS device so that no area of the world is a mystery to you.
Be sure to check on projected weather patterns for the time you’d be visiting, and make a decision on when and where you’ll be starting and ending your ride. Start drafting a preliminary travel plan involving the transportation of your bike to and from your destination.
- Work Out Your Cycling Route
Once the general area of your destination has been picked, plan your route. Figure out how many miles you can cover in a day, how much time you want to be cycling, and when and where you can take food and rest breaks. Trace a preliminary route on a map, and preferably check with a community of travelers site, or park ranger, if relevant, for information on the terrain, weather, state of the trail, visitor infrastructure and amenities, etc.
- Pick the Right Bike
It’s vital that you buy a reliable bike of quality, of a model that won’t suffer broken shifters, levers or sprockets, or any other part. Take into account the type of road/trail and terrain of the route when deciding, preferably with the help of an expert bike handler, whether you should pick up a road bike, mountain bike or touring bike for your journey.
- Select Your Gear and Accessories
The Internet offers a wealth of information on what is the best gear, sports clothing and other essentials to pack. What you end up getting will largely depend on the quality of your research and your budget, so do spend time comparison shopping and reading up on reviews so that you save on costs.
- On Preliminary Packing
Of course, you’ll want to travel light, to lighten your burden on the road. But even before leaving for your vacation, make sure you’re traveling light in the conscience department. Bolt all main doors to your apartment, let neighbors know you are traveling, set the alarm, and have someone pick up your mail so that ne’er-do-wells in the ‘hood don’t burgle your place. You certainly want your home to stay safe while you’re gone.
As for packing for your trip, again, this is a question of research. Several YouTube videos exist that show you how best to pack your gear on your bike so that you travel lightly.
A Final Point
Taking the above tips into account for your major bicycle tour should point you in the right direction on the basics of how to plan for the ride. The more thought and foresight you invest in planning the trip, the better it will likely turn out, so be thorough in researching the details so that the trip goes off without a hitch. Happy trails!