For some a bicycle tour is a romantic notion, for some the ultimate adventure, and for others a casual vacation option. Thousands of people do it all over the world and there are dozens of companies to choose from. If you’ve decided to not do it alone, how do you then decide with whom when there are so many different companies, regions, and types of tours that are out there (guided tours, self-guided tours, private tours, group tours, etc…)? Here are a few questions to ask yourself…
Question 1: What is my cycling ability?
This is an important question! The answer to this will determine if you prefer flatter terrain, epic climbs, or rolling hills, shorter or longer mileages, if you are comfortable riding with some traffic, or if you need to ride on all bike paths with no traffic. It will also help determine whether you might need van support en route to tackle those big climbs or to transfer you between two towns (hold that thought!). Here is how we at LifeCycle Adventures assess our guests’ abilities before we design a customized itinerary for them:
- If you ride 10-20 miles on Saturdays or Sundays on mostly flat terrain then you are a Beginning level rider
- If you comfortably ride 25-40 miles in a day on rolling terrain you are an Intermediate rider
- If you can easily manage 30-60 miles (or more!) on vigorous terrain then you are an Advanced rider. But, in this category, you probably already know who you are!
Question 2: What do I want to experience on a tour?
If you don’t have a specific destination in mind (as we find many guests initially do not when they first contact us), think about the types of things you want to experience during your cycling vacation. Amongst a possibly infinite list, are you interested in food & wine, natural beauty, culture and history, isolation or population? If you’re having a custom itinerary designed for you, tell them what you’re looking for. If you’re perusing preset itineraries, review them with an eye towards the key aspects of the cycling vacation you’re looking for.
Question 3: How much support do I need?
Once you’ve decided what type of cycling you want to do and where you’d like to do it, the last key question will be who do you want to it with. You will need to decide whether you would like to be with a bigger group of strangers or with only your own traveling companions. Do you want or need a guide with you at all times? Do you want or need a van at your disposal?
If you like the idea of meeting a large group of other people and having everything selected and scheduled for you so that you don’t have to make any decisions, then a traditional shared group cycling tour is for you. If you prefer the idea of traveling on your own schedule and timeline, then a self-guided tour or private customized tour is the perfect option. When selecting your vacation, be sure to ask what level of support you will be getting. Decide whether the level of support you are being offered (for example, a guide riding with you at all times) is what you actually want or need. Maybe, for example, you would be happier with a guide available 100% of the time in the “background” or “on call”.
For sure, these questions are not an exhaustive list. But, at LifeCycle Adventures, they are the three key ones that that we ask when we design customized tours for our guests. We gather enough information from a guest so that we can design a targeted itinerary that meets the guests’ strengths, interests, and support needs. For over 10 years LifeCycle Adventures has successfully put together hundreds of itineraries and trips for solo travelers, couples, and groups of all sizes, delivering a dream cycling vacation in the process.