While the E-Bike Cycle Tourists are now one year and 21,500kms into their record-breaking long distance e-bike ride, rest assured you don’t have to cycle such huge distances to be able to enjoy your own amazing cycle touring holiday.
In fact, these days it is possible to experience everything that is great about cycle touring on either an e-bike or a regular touring bike on an organised cycle tour.
Instead of doing it the hard way yourself – as we are – by having to organise everything along the way including route planning, finding suitable accommodation, cooking, bicycle maintenance and general problem solving etc, etc, organised tours are available at amazing locations throughout the world with one major difference – everything is organised for you.
The point to note is that the big difference on an organised cycle tour is that EVERYTHING is done for you! – yes, that is right, everything. All you have to do pick the tour of your choice at the breathtaking location of your choice, turn up and start pedalling.
How good is that!!
For newcomers to cycle touring, there are various types of organised cycle tours that are available, all of which have a particular appeal to different people. The most popular of these are guided tours, self-guided tours and bike and barge tours.
Guided Cycle Tours
Guided tours are a great starting place for anyone wanting to enjoy a magical holiday with a difference on a bicycle.
With a guide leading the way you do not have to worry about navigating, problems with foreign languages and the other 1001 issues that arise on a daily basis on every trip. All you have to do is sit back in the saddle, enjoy the scenery and the company of your fellow cyclists.
As the name suggests holidaymakers on a guided cycle tour have the benefit of a trained guide who leads the way and provides day to day assistance with all aspects of the tour.
It is important to note that your luggage is transported from hotel to hotel to ensure you have nothing to worry about other than enjoying yourself.
On most guided tours bicycles, panniers and most of the other equipment you require is provided, allowing you to just turn up and start pedalling.
On many guided tours a support vehicle trails the cyclists and meets them at various checkpoints along the route or allows struggling cyclists to hitch a ride. More often than not a sumptuous lunch is thrown in complete with local delicacies, wine and fruit.
Normally on guided tours you ride with a small group of people, with your guide not only leading the way but also acting as tourist guide, translator and generally Mr Fix-it.
With the benefit of not having to worry about all the logistics such as transporting bicycles overseas, booking hotels, moving luggage between overnight stops etc, a guided tour is the perfect way to see your favourite country from the seat of a bicycle – it’s the only way to travel.
Self-guided Cycle Tours
Self-guided cycle touring means that you travel alone (without a guide). These types of tours are booked through cycle tour companies that provide daily route notes to follow as well in most cases a backup service if anything happens to go wrong – however for all intents and purposes you are on your own during the day.
The tour companies also book hotels, campgrounds or other suitable accommodation at the end of each days cycling and provide extensive maps and touristic information for the route you will be taking.
Depending on the particular type of tour booked and the country it is booked in, tour companies also organise to transport your luggage between nightly stops.
For people who prefer the social aspect of touring with a group of new friends this type of touring may not suit, however if you are looking for flexibility with your route and daily routine this is definitely the way to go.
For anyone contemplating booking a self-guided individual tour, it is important to note that self-guided does NOT mean totally self-sufficient. You are NOT totally on your own, as the tour operator organises hotel reservations, luggage transfers and often a back-up emergency service.
More often than not the accommodation is the same as on guided tours, with the route cycled also in many cases the same – but without a guide. Most tour operators offer a comprehensive information package, which includes the route marked on a map, descriptions of the route, sightseeing tips, cultural highlights and recommended restaurants.
Bike and Barge Cycle Tours
For any cycling enthusiast wanting to enjoy a holiday with a difference, a bike and barge/cruise tour is definitely worth consideration. To put it simply they are a blast!
Cycle all day and your floating hotel is there at the end of the day to welcome you with a warm shower, a five star menu and your own cabin. Bike and barge tours are available throughout Europe, and for all of the above reasons are becoming more and more popular on a yearly basis.
Because, clearly, the barge travels along major rivers and canals, the cycling for the vast majority of the time is along flat cycle paths along the water’s edge. This means these types of tours are suitable for families or anyone from about six to 80-plus years and of all varying fitness levels.
In places such as Greece and Croatia your home away from home is often a motorised yacht or boat complete with all the five star trimmings. The cycling is just as picturesque as on a river barge tour, with holidaymakers cycling from village to village before meeting up with their yacht at a new location at the end of the day.
Another advantage of bike and barge touring is that if you are travelling with a non-cyclist family member or friend, they can stay on-board during the day and can enjoy the journey on the barge or yacht while you explore on your bicycle (which is supplied as part of the tour package).
To find out more about the various types of cycle tours that are available together with a comprehensive run-down of how to book he perfect cycling holiday for you read my e-book ‘The Cycle Tourist’ at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FA61XBY