Friday, August 9, 2013

Easily Plan Your Own Bike Tour

I'm in the midst of planning another adventure and—since this one is relatively simple compared with last year's affair—I wanted to share my process. When broken into small tasks, things get done without too much effort. There's nothing better than anticipating time away on two wheels

1. Location
An interesting destination can jumpstart a bike tour. It could be as simple as the next town over or halfway around the world. Pick your spot and choose it wisely, otherwise best laid plans will fall to the wayside.

2. Best Time of Year 
This may depend on location, weather, or even transportation. Perhaps there's a family schedule that one needs to work around. Once my husband and I decided our children weren't coming with us, we chose September for this year's adventure, partly because our chosen destination is cooler that time of year and less rainy, and partly because our children will be in school. Childcare won't be as great a burden on our family.

3. Setting the Date
Are you traveling with others or going alone? The more people that tag along, the more logistics. Take this into account in the initial planning stages. Do you need to schedule vacation, arrange child care or have someone watch pets? Keep a calendar, notebook, or list. Break down your priorities. This year a friend is tagging along from Oregon, so she made roundtrip plane flight reservations. These two dates kicked off our logistics.

4. Logistics
Where will you stay overnight while on tour? Are there campground, hotel, or B&B reservations to set? This will vary widely depending on what type of adventure you choose. Since we need to shuttle a vehicle and start and end in large cities, I researched and reserved two hotels and a plane flight. However, with abundant camping options, where we rest our heads for most nights will depend on daily mileage.

5. In Motion
Take a deep breath. Pat yourself on the back because you've set your vacation in motion. Now comes the easy part. Use time between logistics planning and tour time to make sure your bike and body are in shape. If it's an overnight adventure, skip this part, but if it's for multiple days, attend to those bothersome things about your bike that you've put off. I'm adding puncture proof tires plus another bottle cage. I also need the derailleur assessed by a professional as it's not shifting as smoothly as it should.

That's about it. Your bike tour can be a simple overnight or lengthy vacation. Honestly, it's not that difficult to plan and oh so worthwhile.

For great overnight ideas and more in-depth gear and bike set-up, visit


  1. Good thoughts. Something I spend more time on than most when prepping for a tour is the route. There are some roads that given traffic levels and berm conditions, just aren't safe even though they might be the shortest way to the destination. Plus, if I can avoid a long climb without going too far out of the way...

    1. Of course the route is very important and something we tended to mull over quite a bit while we were in Provence last year. However, it varied day to day, and since we were new to the region we didn't plan anything until the day before we rented the bikes. We remained flexible and decided to bypass the Mediterranean because of Marseille's congestion in favor of an inland route. For us, it was best just to ride where we could as the trains and buses were a hassle.

      I decided not to mention route planning in this post for the very reason that riding styles and tolerances for road conditions vary widely. Rail trails are a safe alternative for many folks who don't want to deal with traffic.

      So many adventures, so little time!

  2. Some interesting points here on trip planning....
    Like you on your Provence trip- I tend to leave the the exact route for the following day, until the night before.
    I will have a rough idea of the route in my head but I have always found that too much planning around an 'exact' route just creates more difficulties than it solves due to all the variables involved.
    My experience has always been that the more flexible you are on route planing, the more successful the trip......

    1. I agree that if you obsess about the route you are setting yourself up for disappointment. There could be unforeseen events like road construction, heavy traffic, a difficult bike repair that requires a detour to a bike shop, route is hillier than expected, etc.

  3. Packing just right is another challenge, esp for newbie tourers. But, as always, the best teacher is experience :-)


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