Cycle Touring 101 (and maybe 102)

Those interested in cycling vacations will encounter a myriad of offerings in the marketplace and it’s often difficult to discern amongst the types of cycling vacations offered. Personal preferences will ultimately dictate which cycling tour you choose, though understanding the available options upfront is a must!

Scheduled Group Cycling Tours

Group cycling tours are the most common kind of cycling vacations offered by many the larger operators and providers. Group bicycling tours typically have a limited number of set dates and lengths. Dates are fixed with the number of tours per year being pre-set. Itineraries are pre-defined with some – but usually limited – flexibility. Specific lodging and hotels, specific restaurants, and side excursions are typically included (and pre-selected). While groups can vary in size, 15 to 20 is the “sweet spot”. Assistance and support is usually ample and includes guides on bikes as well as support vans for the entire group. Pricepoints can vary based on accommodation choices, though these can be priced on the higher end due to the guides on bikes and in vans that are provided.

Self-Guided Cycling Tours

The term “Self-Guided”, though seemingly specific and connoting a very basic offering, is used for a wide variety of tours. Self-Guided biking tours run the gamut from the most basic of offerings (“Here’s your map, happy cycling!”) all the way through to fully-supported tours, where the term “self-guided” simply means that there isn’t a guide cycling with you at all moments of the day, though you are catered to in every other way including van support.


Outside of the extremes of Self-Guided bike tour offerings, what does the “typical” Self-Guided tour offer? The typical Self-Guided tour differ significantly from Group Tours in that the level of support and number of elements included is more limited. Self-Guided cycling tours often include accommodation bookings, rental bikes, and basic maps. Travelers are able to select their own dates, deviate from a preset itinerary, and travel only with who they want. Service and support can be very limited, with cyclists being on their own for the most part after their trip begins. Accommodations are often of the more basic variety.

The LifeCycle Adventures Option: Personalized Cycling Tours

Personalized Tours share characteristics in common with both Group Tours and Self-Guided tours. We at LifeCycle Adventures like to think that we offer the best of the Self-Guided and Group Tour worlds. In parallel with typical Self-Guided tours, our Personalized tours allow you to customize your dates, the places you visit, who you travel with, the length of your trip, what type of accommodation you prefer, where you eat, and your actual riding itinerary (in other words, everything!).


The commonality with Group Tours is that you have a high level of service available to you through on-call van and general telephone support, but are free to ride with just your own group and enjoy the privacy of your experience-that level of support is entirely personalized. Your luggage is transferred any day that you are changing accommodations, and services such as airport pickup and dropoff, van transfers from one location to another, and wine pickup are also available. In-person itinerary briefings with guides are provided, and support is always a phone call away. Beyond a simple map, you are provided with customized guidebooks that highlight your cycling route options as well as restaurant recommendations and other sights to see along your way.


If we could sum up our offering in two words: Customized Service. The level of customization and service you receive from the moment you first contact us all the way through to the end of your trip is simply unparalleled. Why settle for “typical” Self-Guided or Group Tours?