If you're looking for an unforgettable experience, self guided bike tours are just the thing. Self-guided bike tours are a great way to explore the world around you because you have greater opportunity to interact with your environment.
You can also take time to stop and explore an area that otherwise might not have captured your attention.
It might sound intimidating, but don't worry! This beginner’s guide will give you all the information you need to go on a self-guided bike tour. From what route is best for beginners, to what you need for safety, this guide has it all!
The basics of self-guided bike tours
Self-guided bike tours are a great way to explore the world around you because you have greater opportunity to interact with your environment. You can also take time to stop and explore an area that otherwise might not have captured your attention.
You don't need a lot of experience to embark on a self-guided bike tour! In fact, if you're new to biking, this is a great way to start out.
The first thing you'll want to do is read up on how to use your bike properly. It's important that you know how it should feel to ride it with some luggage and on different terrain.
There's a difference between the feel of a road or mountain bike, so make sure you understand which type of bike will suit your route, before departure.
Once you have an understanding of the appropriate bicycle for your type of bike tour, find the perfect route for beginners.
A good beginner's self guided bike tour should have you cycling between three to five hours hours a day, with a straightforward route and with easy turns and limited hill climbing.
Aim to avoid busy roads and areas where cars may come from different directions unexpectedly.
What route is best for beginners?
When you're preparing for a self-guided bike tour, one of the most important decisions you'll have to make is what route to take. There are many factors that will go into this decision including how much time you have, your fitness level, and your preference.
If you're just getting started with bike tours, then it's often best to start out with a loop ride route. Loop routes provide a great introductory experience because they typically have a low amount of elevation gains and can be completed in about four hours.
Loop ride tours are great for beginners because they simplify arrival and departure logistics considerably and therefore may not require as much time commitment – so, if you need to stop riding halfway through because it's too difficult or you tire out before reaching the end then there's no pressure!
Loop ride bike tours also come with an opportunity for exploration. If there's something along the way that catches your eye (like a scenic viewpoint), then you can take some time to explore it. This gives beginners the chance to gain experience without feeling like they're abandoning their original plan.
What to wear
No matter your destination, you're going to want to pack for an adventure!
When it comes to clothing, it's important to dress in layers. You never know what the weather will be like or how active you'll get while on your bike.
It may sound obvious, but do pack cycling clothes that are appropriate for biking, but also pack after riding clothes that can get dirty or that are easy to wash and dry.
You'll also want to wear light colors so you don't get overheated while cycling in the sun. And if you plan on riding at night, make sure that your clothes are reflective and easy-to-see.
Pack the right gear
Before you start your tour, make sure you've got the right gear:
When you're planning what to pack, think about what items might be essential based on where you're going.
For example, if you'll be in a hot climate, sunscreen is an absolute must! If you're going somewhere with snow and ice, bring appropriate clothing and traction devices. You can find a detailed bike tour packing list here.
Safety on a bike tour
Safety should always be your number one priority and nothing should ever deter you from taking the necessary precautions. It's important to wear a helmet, follow traffic laws, and make sure you can be seen on or off the bike. I recommend wearing a bright colored jersey, wind breaker or helmet.
If you follow the rules of the road and use some common sense, bike tours are very safe if you just take these few small precautions.
Self-guided bike tours are a great way to explore the world's most beautiful destinations. Here are 3 broad and simple tips for beginner cyclists to make their first self-guided bike tour a success:
1) Start with an easy and travel friendly destination, you can find some of our favourite and recommended bicycle tour routes in Spain and Portugal here.
2) Look for routes that avoid major roads and highways, to avoid traffic hazards, but that lead you to interesting destinations so you never feel too far from civilization or that all you do is pedal!
3) Consider Points of Interest, distance and elevation gain. What is there to see? How far do you want to cycle each day? How much do you want to climb each day? Also think about terrain (paved or unpaved), time available, and weather conditions.
You need to be sure you are fit enough to cycle the full distance of the tour, while taking into account that the challenge level is not just the distance cycled, but also the elevation gain for the days ride.
I also recommend allowing sufficient time to actually enjoy the rides and also your overnight destinations - and points of interest along the way!
Although most people prefer spring and summer for the better weather conditions, we have many experienced cyclists who prefer cycling in autumn and winter, and risking a little rain so they can avoid crowds.
Cycling Rentals has been designing and operating bike tours for nearly 20 years, and we can help you choose or plan your perfect self guided bike tour - get in touch. In the mean time, click below for some inspiration!