Ever dream of taking a bicycle trip in wine country when the grapes are ripe, riding single track trails on a mountainside or peddling through New England during fall foliage season? You have, you say, but you're not sure how to find the right trip and prep for the rides? Here are some suggestions for choosing a tour operator and getting ready for your trip.
- What Really Interests You?
How do you picture your biking vacation? Are you riding along pitted dirt roads, up single-track trails etched into a mountainside or on slick rock? Are you pedaling from one European village to the next on flat roads with the occasional gentle hill?
- How Hard Do You Want to Pedal?
How many miles do you want to bike each day? If you head up a mountainside or into Moab’s slick-rock country you’ll have to ride back out. If you’re traveling with some tour operators who offer European bicycle vacations, you can be picked up by a car along the route and driven to the next town.
- Where to Try Mountain Biking
You should be in good physical shape for either type of trip, but mountain biking usually requires more skill than touring on flat roads. If biking on mountainsides appeal but you’ve never tried it, visit how to get started on About.com’s mountain biking website.
This summer there are several mountainbike weekends with races, bike-related entertainment and clinics geared for newbies to skilled riders.
- Ways to Get in Shape for Bicycling
Once you've chosen a trip, you need to reate a plan to ensure you are ready physically. Friends of our prep for bike vacations by long rides to a restaurant for breakfast. Build your rides to the number of miles you'll be doing daily. Spinning classes are another route, as is working out in a gym, with the emphasis on strengthening quads and muscles around the knee. Visit the section in About.com’s bicycling website on training for some specific ideas.
- What Clothing Should You Bring?
Your tour operator will give you a clothing list. You want padded shorts, gloves and breathable clothing that’s comfortable, yet not too baggy. Look for some with a sun-protection factor. Outer gear should be waterproof. Pearl Izuma gets kudos from biking enthusiasts. This company also sells bike shoes, which offer more support than tennis shoes. The website has a store locator. REI has clothing and gear for every adventure imaginable.
- Your Bike or Mine?
Ask the tour operator what type of bike is provided. Is the bike rental included in the package price or is there an extra cost? If you want to bring your own bike ask how and where to ship it, plus how much will it cost?
- Finding a Trip
Once you’ve dialed in on the type of bicycling trip that sounds most appealing it’s time to connect with companies that offer dream bicycling vacations. View any virtual tours then talk to someone at each tour company and for more details the types of lodging, restaurants and anything else that’s important to you when selecting a tour operator.