So, you‘ve finally decided to go on a bike tour (Bravo!). A bike tour is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences for enthusiastic cyclists. It is a great way to see new places, meet new people, and challenge yourself. But, just like with everything else, you have to put in the effort. A bike tour can be an enjoyable adventure or a terrible nightmare, depending on how you prepare for it.
Riding a bicycle for such a long period of time can be demanding, especially if you have been relatively inactive for some time. That’s why training is essentially important; a good training plan will prepare you for the long bike tour and prevent injuries or saddle sores (which are a sure way to put a dampener on your trip).
How to Prepare for a Bike Tour?
In order to complete a bike tour successfully, and most importantly, enjoy it, you have to train and physically prepare yourself. The best part about getting ready for a tour is that you don’t have to do it alone. Here’s everything you need to know about creating a bike tour training plan, setting a training schedule, and practices that you will need to achieve your goal.
Create a training plan
Of course, you are going to need a training plan to prepare for the bike tour, no matter whether you are going to participate in a short or a long one. An appropriate training plan will help you get fit for the tour and enjoy it rather than endure it.
- Firstly, start your preparation early. We recommend starting your training at least 13 weeks before the tour date.
- A bike tour is all about your riding endurance, so ride at least four days a week for an hour or, if possible more.
- Add a stretching routine. Stretching has many benefits, the main ones being improved flexibility, riding posture, reduced soft-tissue injuries, and enhanced performance. So, stretch daily for five to ten minutes. Start incorporating hip openers, calf and glute stretches, and neck or upper body stretches into your workout routine.
- Make sure to ride uphill at least twice a week. Unfortunately, bike touring is not all about smooth, flat roads. It has uphills too. So, build strength and prepare your body to endure riding uphill by doing that twice a week or more for at least 35 minutes a day.
Set a training schedule
Consistency is key to making your goal a reality. Create a training schedule that suits you, and stick to it. Aim to train at least four times a week for at least an hour. If possible, find a day on which you can exercise for more than two hours. When you’re bored of cycling, you can go for a long run or even go swimming to keep your body active.
Ensure your bike is in a good working condition
Arming yourself with a good bike is vital whether you’re preparing for a short-distance or a long-distance bike tour. You’re going to be cycling for a really long time, so it is crucial that you feel comfortable and safe on your bike and there is no discomfort. If your bike is not in a good working condition or does not feel safe, take it to your favorite bike mechanic for a tune-up as soon as possible. A good bike will improve your touring experience and success immensely.
A mistake that riders often make is not taking things slowly. They exhaust themselves from the beginning, and they feel burned out even before the bike tour approaches. So, start slow. Begin by riding shorter distances so that you feel comfortable (but not too comfortable) when you first jump on the saddle. Starting slow will give your body the chance to get used to the exercise, thus avoiding unnecessary injuries and strainings. Remember, you will build up gradually.
Build up your mileage gradually
After the first few days of riding:
- Start building up your mileage gradually.
- Challenge yourself with longer, steeper rides, and when you feel ready, load your packs and try climbing.
- Increase your distance and your pack load every day, but not up to the point where you feel exhausted.
Try riding different terrains
Riding on pavements and other smooth surfaces is usually preferred by riders since it doesn’t require much effort. But, you have to practice riding various terrains such as dirt tracks or rocky paths so that you feel more confident when you encounter these kinds of off-road terrains and obstacles.
Train in different weather conditions
Bike tours are not suitable for fair-weather cyclists. Of course, you can’t control the weather, so you have to be prepared for everything mother nature throws at you. So, don’t shy away from going for a ride when it’s pouring. You will be able to test your skills as well as your bike, clothes, and other equipment.
Practice climbing hills
It’s a well-known fact that climbing hills isn’t fun. But you should practice it because chances are you will have to do just that on your bike tour. What you can do to ease up the climbing is to find the right gear for you. Try to find a bike that is neither too low nor too high, as it can tire you way quicker than expected.
A bike tour is not a punishment; it is a reward. After all the hard work you have done to prepare for it, it would be a shame not to enjoy the tour. So, don’t push yourself too hard, but ride at your comfortable pace. Eat, drink, rest, make new friends, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
So, are you ready for your tour bike adventure? Keep in mind, the more you train and prepare, the better your bike trip will be. See you on the tour!