Top Tips for Cycling Holidays - Mercurio Bike Travel
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Andre Volkel of Mercurio Bike Travel brings us his top tips for finding the right cycling holiday and how to enjoy it.
Holidays on a bike are becoming more and more popular every year, particularly in Germany, Austria and The Netherlands, which offer a huge network of cycle paths across their countries.
Read on if you are considering such a holiday.
First of all, think about what you would like to experience during your cycling holiday, would you like to see a special part of the world, have a physical challenge or take things more gently.
Chose the right type of cycling holiday
Are you after self-supported, self-guided or guided cycling holidays? On a self-supported trip, you will be completely on your own, using several panniers to carry all your belongings, having planned everything yourself. Both self-guided and guided cycling holidays always include a tour operator, who organises accommodation, luggage transfer, maps and a bicycle if needed. On a guided tour you and the group enjoy the services of a tour leader, whilst you will be free to go your own way on a self-guided holiday.
Realistically, self-supported cycling holidays are for those who are experienced cyclists and adventurers. In total contrast, and if you prefer the social element and the security of travelling in within a group, go for a guided cycling holiday. You will usually benefit from a guide who knows the region like the back of his hand, an accompanying van that might give you a lift if needed, guided walks at places of interest and even prepared picnics en route. It’s important to check the size of the group, the pace, the type of bicycles that are provided and the type of accommodation.
If you prefer a little more freedom, book a self-guided holiday, which is still very relaxed as most of the organisation is done for you. You luggage will get forwarded to the next, pre-booked hotel, a rental bicycle is included or can be added and a set of maps will help you to navigate. Of course, you should be able to read a map!
Pick the right challenge
A cycling holiday requires a certain level of physical fitness. Tour operators often use their own grading system, so check carefully to ensure you haven’t signed up for a version of the Tour de France by mistake. Gradients are very important when cycling, flat riverside paths are great for the less experienced. And practice before you go is essential, disaster may strike otherwise.
One word about cycle legs: experienced cyclists recommend itineraries that start off gently, so your body has time at the beginning of your holiday to get used to the bike.
Guided tours enjoy the advantage of a guide who can make any necessary adjustments to the bicycle. A gel saddle cover is always a great bonus too, some tour operators even allow you to bring your own saddle.
Get physically prepared
You don’t need to be a cycling pro but should cycle with some confidence. A few weeks before leaving home, cycle at least once or twice a week. A two hours ride to the next pub with your local Cycle Touring Club (CTC) will be the perfect preparation. Iy you live in a big city, do some spinning at the gym.
Get prepared for the country you’re visiting
If you’re travelling abroad, how about learning a few words for everyday conversation? It’s also interesting to research the towns and villages on your journey, as well as places at the beginning and the end of your cycle tour.
If possible, get acquainted with the written and unwritten cycling rules. Luckily, the rules here and in the rest of Europe are similar - except that they often cycle on the wrong side. And in some countries, like Spain, you have to wear a helmet when cycling.
So enjoy the world on two wheels, many mature travellers aged over 50 most certainly do!
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Mercurio Bike Travel.
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