A bicycle tour is a fun and challenging way to get outdoors and see some beautiful landscapes. But if you plan on cycling for longer than a single day trip there could be some in-depth planning involved. Here's how to plan a perfect Bicycle Tour Route:
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Decide what kind of bicycle tour you want to plan for.
The first step to planning a perfect bicycle tour route is to decide what type of tour you’d like to undertake, and if you’re new to this, you might be surprised by how many different bicycletour options you could consider! For example, you could consider an overnight bike tour microadventure, which is great for beginners or for those who don’t have much time to commit.
Credit card touring is another option that’s defined by what you pack, or rather, what you don’t pack. People who take this type of tour will take a credit card or cash with them, buy supplies as they need them and stay at comfortable accommodations that suit their taste and budget. This type of tour isn’t time-specific but usually lasts less than a week.
You can also decide to take a guided tour, a semi-guided tour, or a completely self-supported tour. If you’re not sure if a fully supported and guided tour will give you the freedom you want, a supported, self-guided tour is a great option as well. But since you are here to learn how to plan a bicycle tour route, let's move on!
Pick your location.
Before you decide on the exact route you want to take, you need to decide which region you’re headed to. You should think about the sights you want to see, but you also need to think about your skill level and how you want your biking experience to be. For example, if you’re looking for a more gentle route without too many elevation differences, don’t pick a mountain range.
It’s also important to consider weather conditions that may come into play - an overly snowy climate may not be the best for biking. While many locations are beautiful and popular for tours, it doesn’t mean it’s the right location for you.
Do background research.
Research might or not sound like much fun to you, but this phase of planning can be very rewarding. This is when you can browse Youtube videos, blogs, bike touring forums and click through Google Maps to see what destinations excite you.
If you’re going to be camping along the way, you can find campsites. If you’re more suited to hotels, look for hotels that suit your style and price range, along your preferred route. This is the phase of planning where you can make a wishlist and keep track of everything you want to do.
Plan your route - how long do you want to spend on your tour and how far do you want to go?
Once you’ve compiled all of this information, you can start deciding on your route. Take your wishlist of everything you want to fit in and start mapping it all out to see what’s possible.
Consider how long you want to be riding your bicycle every day and how long you want to be resting, eating, or exploring various excursions. Make sure you don’t stretch yourself too thin - if you’re planning a stretch between hotels for example, you’ll want to plan a distance that you can handle.
Plan any stops and excursions you want to include on your trip.
One of the greatest freedoms of traveling by bike is you can stop anytime you’d like to. If you know you’ll be biking near a beautiful waterfall, or there’s a restaurant near a hotel you want to try, you can make a note of those and plan on making the stops.
Make sure you are prepared with maps, apps, and any printed materials you might need.
Being prepared is all about making sure you have all of the information and resources you might need along the way.
There are several apps you can download to your phone before you leave such as AllTrails, BikeMap, or MyCycleTour. Google Maps is a great one too - just make sure you allow your phone to download the maps and routes in advance so you can use them even with minimal service.
While apps are convenient and can contain all the information you need for your bicycle tour, it can be useful to have crucial information in print, such as hotel reservations or pre purchased entrance tickets.
As long as your phone is charged up, it's more than likely you will have all the information you need in emails or within the bike tour app of your choice. While it’s completely fine to you want to use your phone for your map, consider having a hard copy of a general map to reference just in case.
If you’re staying at a hotel somewhere along the way or at your destination, always make sure that you have your booking information printed out. Use your phone when you can, but make sure you have what you need to be successful without it.
Pack and prepare to leave for your trip.
Before you leave, make sure you have everything you need. It’s essential to carry items such as a patch kit and other tools to help you fix your bike should it be necessary.
Bring snacks, a basic first aid kit, and any clothing you might need. Make sure you also have a plan to transport your bike to your destination if you’re not able to simply drive to where you are going.
Go on your bicycle tour and enjoy!
After you’ve spent time researching and planning your perfect bicycle tour, it’s time to go and experience it!
Despite the amount of effort you’ve put into selecting a route, sorting through possible excursions, and packing and preparing, the most important thing to remember is that you are meant to enjoy your trip and if a sightseeing point you’ve added to your itinerary doesn’t seem worth it when you get there, you don’t have to stay. Make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy the ride!
If you don’t want to spend all of your time researching and planning, consider buying a ready-made tour plan and itinerary - these will cover the day to day plans, and break up the route into comfortable daily sections that allow enough time to enjoy your surroundings.
Ready-made or pre-planned tours are also great for beginners or those who have never planned a bike tour before and save time while ensuring a better experience, by including all the little details, such as recommended places to eat, sleep and visit - so you don’t have to worry about them.
REPLY BY OWNER: Hi Sara, thanks for sharing your comment and question! If you are just looking for single tracks and rides near you, I would recommend looking at AllTrails.com. Our Experience apps are multi-day bike tour guides. If you are looking for a full self guided bicycle tour itinerary and routes, then please take a look at our Experiences!
Just got my first bike and the pressure is insane, I can’t wait to finish my first trail! I have my GPS app ready along with a second, beaten down smartphone because there’s no way I’m taking my 13 Pro Max on my first route. I’m currently looking for local routes that take less than an hour, I don’t want to spread myself too thin. It seems google recommends a lot of paid/guided tours. How can I find routes I can enjoy alone?
I am in the midst of planning my first ever tour route! I started getting back into biking over the summer in 2020 since there wasn’t much to do and I had been stuck working from home. It sucks! Taking this up as a hobby has been a huge blessing though. Now that I have made it a part of my weekly routine, I want to expand and see more trails and sights! This article for planning it has been very helpful for a noob like me!