Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Bike Tour Route:
OK so this article assumes you are planning or organising your bike tour yourself and not using a company to do it for you! With this in mind, here are some factors you should consider when planning your bike tour route!
Really the route you choose will depend on a number of different factors so lets take a closer look:
1. How long do you have?
One week to one year, how long or short your route will be definitely depends on how long you have to complete it. You need to be realistic with your time frame and allow for rest days, unexpected events and a period of adjustment at the beginning when you will likely need to do some shorter days until you are comfortable.
2. How fit are you?
The type of route you choose will certainly be somewhat based on how physically fit you are and what you think you are capable of e.g. mountain passes versus cycling the canals of the Danube. I think it would be a mistake to pick a super challenging route if you are not reasonably fit or not used to long days in the saddle. Such an approach is unlikely to result in an enjoyable experience and more likely to result in you being miserable, getting injured or giving-up.
You will be working out how far you cycle daily (your daily kilometres) based on the total length of your route and the total number of days you have to complete that route. You should also factor in your fitness level when making these decisions; how far you think you will be able to cycle daily and still enjoy yourself.
3. Type of route?
You should consider the type of route that you will cycle on. Things to consider include:
- Is the route flat or hilly? (physical fitness applies here).
- The type of surface you will be cycling on? (e.g. tarmac is FAR easier than gravel).
- Is your bike suitable for the surface you want to cycle on? (e.g. different tyres for different surfaces).
- Is the route using existing bike paths?
- If the route is via roads, how busy/major are the roads? will there be a hard shoulder? or will it be quiet country roads that you are using?
I know if we did our second bike tour first, I would have struggled big time. The second tour route was far more challenging then the first and in a way the first route was like training for our second trip. We cycled up some serious mountain passes in the second trip that there is no way I would have managed on the first trip (or not until the end at least when my legs were stronger). We also cycled mainly on bike paths on our first trip, whereas our second tour involved a LOT of road cycling - I definitely prefer bike paths!
4. What do you know about the route you have chosen?
- Will you cycle a popular well travelled route or are you looking for something quieter?
- What is there along the route to see and do?
- Are there many places to sleep? and eat?
If you choose a known popular route, there are a number of things you need to then consider. Taking the Loire Valley Route as an example. This route is very busy, especially in the Summer months. So, if you go there in the Summer it is quite likely that you will need to have all your accommodation booked well in advance, so your schedule will be more restricted/inflexible. It will also mean that the bike paths will most likely be very busy (very popular route for people with children) so cycling speed will be reduced and this might affect the distance you cycle daily (as you are forced to go slower). Busier paths also mean less “alone/quiet time” on the paths; you will be sharing pretty much constantly with others! On the plus side, there will be loads of places to eat, drink, visit and (hopefully) sleep along the route due to its popularity.
5. How will you get to the start of the route? & Home at the end?
While you will always be able to figure out a way of getting to the start of your bike tour route and home from the end, it is still wise to give it some thought when choosing your route.
Beginning your bike tour somewhere that you can easily access from your home or wherever you keep your bike touring gear is a real bonus.
We have discussed this topic in more detail in our blog article “Using planes and trains with your touring bike - what we have learned!” - so check it out for more details!
More Bike Touring Blogs:
I hope you find these tips useful! You might like some of our other bike touring blogs so we have attached some links below to make it easier for you to find them:
- Eight Useful Bike Touring Kit Items.
- Why Ortlieb Bicycle Panniers are the Best!.
- Our Essential Bike Tour Items.
- What to Store in Your Handlebar Bag?.
- Using Planes, Trains and Boats on your Bike Tour.
- Buying versus Renting Bike Touring Gear.
Even more noroadlongenough bike touring blogs available here.