We’re all witnessing a steady rise of bicycle owners wherever we go. It’s an eco-friendly travel option, you get to spend a lot of time outside and it counts as physical activity. Whether your ultimate goal is to cut costs and boost your metabolism or eventually start traveling by bicycle, cycling is a rewarding activity. But, if you have a goal of using your bicycle as means of transportation during your travels, there are many things you should know. We know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor should you just hop on a bicycle and say See you in a week! But, with the help of this ultimate guide, you’ll be ready to start exploring the world on a bicycle.
The first part – Getting into cycling
Start cycling daily to build stamina
Before you even think of traveling your country or the world by bicycle, you need to build stamina. The easiest and best way to build cycling stamina is to start cycling. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The key to any goal in life is determination, dedication, and the right plan so you’ll fit everything in your schedule. Simply, start going everywhere on a bicycle, to and from work, to your friend’s house, and include it into your evening routine.
Get into shape
While daily cycling will boost your stamina and help you tone up by relieving pressure from your joints, you still need to work on getting into shape. If you’re a regular gym-goer, then you should just keep up with the routine. If cycling is a way for you to improve your physical health, add three strength workouts to your weekly schedule. It will help you build strength, and grow muscles, and combined with cardio activity, you will steadily get into shape. Traveling by bicycle requires good physical shape so you’ll be able to endure long rides.
Invest in proper equipment
Cycling for 30 km at once can’t be done in your regular day-to-day clothes. That’s why you should slowly build your cycling equipment. Going all-in might be a bad investment if you lose interest or lack the discipline to go through with your plan to travel by bicycle. So, as you build your cycling stamina, get your body into shape, and start buying proper cycling equipment. From the helmet, clothes, and gloves to spare parts, it will be a hefty sum in the end. You just have to make smart choices and invest in cycling equipment once you feel confident that cycling isn’t just a phase.
Learn the anatomy of a bicycle
You should also take your time to learn the anatomy of a bicycle. This will come in handy when you’re out on the road and you realize something is wrong with your bicycle. You’ll have to learn how to repair basic things like a tire change or any other common bicycle issue.
Set cycling goals
We should set goals in all aspects of our lives. It’s something that will remind us that we want to achieve something and that we have to work for it. Cycling goals will push you a bit farther each time you hop on a bicycle. You’ll test your limits, whether real or just perceived, and build yourself as a cyclist. You should start small at first. Set a goal to ride a bicycle for thirty minutes every evening for a month. As you progress, you can set a first major cycling goal – to cycle to the nearby town. Each goal you cross off your cycling list will motivate you to set bigger goals, like traveling by bicycle.
Goals are one thing, but challenges are a bit different. Let’s say your goal is to cycle 25 kilometers at once. A challenge, in this case, can be to set a time limit. These challenges are useful because you’ll never know what cycling conditions you may face on the road. This practice will train your mind to try to overcome challenges, not give up in the face of one.
The second part – From an idea into an actionable plan
Every great adventure begins by thoroughly planning every aspect of it. You need to do your research and get to know the cycling trails. If you plan to travel around your country, but this time on a bicycle, map out your trail. Plan each break in great detail, whether it’s just to recharge or stay overnight. If you have a particular destination in mind, calculate how many days it will take until you arrive.
First, you need to have everything mapped out and written down as a plan. Next, you need to calculate the costs and come up with a budget that can cover all the costs. If you’re unsure whether you can survive this trip and possible unexpected events financially, stick to shorter travels. Travel locally by bicycle, until you have a proper budget to travel to a longer destination on a bicycle.
Once again, you have to plan with your equipment in mind. First, you need a reliable bicycle. Since the first part will take some time, you can search for bikes for sale, and get a good deal. Next, you need to have quality clothes suitable for expected weather conditions. Don’t forget to invest in spare parts and the right tool kid just in case. Invest in the right saddlebags so you’ll pack the basic change of clothes.
How will you get to your first destination?
If your first destination is a nearby boutique hotel and a spa in the mountains, and you can easily reach it on your bicycle, you just have to pick the dates, book a hotel and check the weather. If you want to reach another continent, you’ll have to plan for the plane tickets. Sometimes you’ll want to travel by train if the weather is horrible for cycling. Make sure to do your research and check whether bicycles are allowed.
If your dream to travel by bicycle is slowly taking form in real life, it’s time to deal with the packing. Probably the biggest downside of traveling by bicycle is the amount of luggage. You need to make room for basic equipment, repair kit, spare parts, rain cover, water bottle, food, bike lights, reflective safety vest, and change of clothes. All of these items have to fit into panniers, saddlebags, and a backpack. Be prepared that you’ll have to travel light because the more you carry the harder it will be to cycle up the hills.
Alone or with a friend?
Are you traveling alone or with a friend? This detail matters because you’ll have to be ready to plan the entire trail and accommodation for two people.
Build a network
There are many cycling lovers out there whose idea of a perfect vacation is to get to the destination by bicycle. Even during the first phase of preparation you can find like-minded individuals, join a group, and build a network of people. They can give first-hand advice, warn you of potential hurdles, offer solutions, or even put you up for a night if your trail passes through their town. Consider these people as experts in the field of your interest and pick their brains for advice, and useful pieces of information, and build a network of fellow bicycle lovers.
The third part – Execution of a plan
At least a week before you depart on your first cycling experience, prepare everything. Check your traveling plan. Organize your trip the right way, so you’ll have enough time to cover the distance without overstraining yourself, take regular stops, check your route, and check your bicycle. Make sure everything works smoothly, so you won’t have any issues on the road. Prepare your saddlebags, clothes, equipment, and anything else. Share your travel itinerary with someone you trust and keep in touch regularly.
When you go through your travel plan and itinerary for the last time, make sure to include bicycle-friendly locations. You don’t want to reach a motel for an overnight stay to learn that you can’t take your bicycle with you to your room or that there isn’t any bike repair shop in the town. Research bike-friendly locations, check with your network and you’ll be set to go.
Cost of travel and accommodation
Double-check everything before you depart, including the cost of travel and accommodation. You need to make room for unexpected costs, additional expenses, and other financial expenses. Makes sure you have enough money so you won’t find yourself stranded somewhere on the road without any money.
Research every bicycle trail thoroughly before you include them in your travel route. If you can, get first-hand experience of those who traveled by bicycle and experienced the trail in question. This will help you determine whether that trail is suitable for your cycling experience, stamina and if the weather conditions are suitable during the time you plan to travel.
Insurance is a must because you never know what can happen. You should get travel health insurance, especially if you plan on cycling abroad. Make sure to carefully choose your travel insurance provider so you’ll be covered in case of any injury or any other health issue. You should also think about insuring your bicycle for theft, especially if you’ve invested a lot into additional equipment.
Getting the right tools is the first thing you have to do. But, you also have to know how o use the tools and whether these tools will go through airport customs. Practice basic maintenance during the first phase, so you’ll be confident enough to use the tools during your travels.
Plan B and C in case A fails
Always have a plan B in case plan A is at fault. Moreover, have an additional plan, plan C up your sleeve, so you’ll easily adapt if plan B fails. In other words, prepare for the unexpected, no matter how detailed your plan is. Even if you’ve planned your travel route for months, something might not go according to plan. For example, your accommodation for the night might be closed, so you should find an alternate option. Always have two options available so you’ll know how to overcome any deviations from a plan and enjoy your ride.
As you can see, planning and getting ready for your first traveling by bicycle adventure isn’t at all easy. But, if you follow our ultimate guide, you’ll know how to get in shape, plan and execute your adventure.