Bike Tour Operators are on the front line. We hear all kinds of things that worry people when considering a group bike tour. So we thought we’d address the five most common concerns we hear, gathered together in a completely non-scientific manner. Then we’re going to allay these fears.
- “What if I can’t go the distance?” Always the #1 concern. Short answer: You don’t have to. You can always take a lift in the van. If your ego doesn’t care, you’re good. Because no one else cares if you take a “boost.” Or even head to the inn for a swim or a good read. Longer answer: You would be amazed at how far you can go when you can ride at your own pace, distracted by gorgeous scenery and visiting cool places along the way. Fortifying snack and lunch stops serve as both motivation and reward. Then suddenly you are at the destination and realize it was easier than you thought!
- “I don’t want to hold anybody up!” This is a big one for many. The guides at Great Freedom Adventures, and good guides everywhere, recognize that every tour group will have people who are worried about this. So they talk about it right at the start. They make sure that every rider knows that they can go at a pace at which they feel comfortable. Want to make frequent stops to capture the stunning scenes with your camera? Want to check out that historic site in more detail, or simply smell the flowers? You can! You won’t get left behind and the lunch food won’t run out. GFA guides are very clever at accommodating all preferences and paces and making it all work beautifully!
- “I don’t want to have to go slowly/stop at too many places/stick with the guide.” Short answer #1 applies here too: “You don’t have to!” With detailed maps and cue sheets (aka, directions) and GPS, you can smoke the route averaging 22 mph if that’s what you like. We won’t stop you. (But we might have a hard time keeping the guides from going with you.) Here at Great Freedom Adventures we understand that this is your trip and you should be able to do what you like. Heck, that’s why the company name has Great Freedom in it.
- “I don’t know if I can handle the hills.” No question, hills can be tough for many people. But there are some simple techniques that can help make them easier to manage. Starting with a lightweight bike like those in GFA’s fleet is half the battle. On the tour, guides give some climbing and shifting technique tips to ensure maximum benefit from the bike’s gears. Things like shifting to an easier gear gradually as you start to lose speed and not waiting too long to shift. Minimize fatigue by using the easiest gear necessary in order to keep the pedal cadence up. In other words, a faster cadence with lower resistance means better endurance on the hills. Relax the grip on the handlebars, put the shoulders down, back straight, chest open and give the lungs room to expand fully. Once solid climbing techniques are mastered, you may find that you are one of those people who actually enjoy climbing. Yes, they are out there and they’re more prevalent than you might imagine. Whether you learn to love the climbs or not, there is always the following descent to enjoy!
- “I don’t look good in spandex.” If this list had been scientifically generated, this fear would likely have been further down the list. But we just felt like including it here. Once you’ve spent as much time in spandex as we have, you tend to forget you’re wearing it. That is until the person behind you in the grocery checkout line has the temerity to give you a strange look. Forget about them and just be comfortable on your bike. Bike shorts and pants are designed to minimize chafing and that padding is most welcomed when spending a good deal of time in the saddle. Plus bike apparel makes you look like a cool pro cyclist. Possibly even makes us faster too – or at least feel like we’re fast, which is all that really matters. All of this said, the phrase “Great Freedom” applies here too. If you want to bike in a pair of athletic shorts and t-shirt, that works too. If you can bike comfortably in it and feel comfortable in it, wear it!
So now that your fears are allayed, we’ll give you one more tip. The best way to get ready for your bike tour so you can show up feeling confident and stress-free is to – you guessed it – ride your bike! Your psyche will thank you – and so will your butt.
Ready to take the plunge but prefer the shallow end of the pool to start? Check out these short bike tours to test the waters: One- to Three-Day Bike Adventure Tours & Four- to Five-Day Bike Adventure Tours. Travel Packets for all booked tours include some helpful training tips and a packing list – spandex optional. And you get a tour advisor who is a phone call or an email away and loves answering any and all questions.
But here’s the thing first-time bike tourists need to know ahead of time – the thing that frequent bike tourists already know – one bike tour is never enough.
Post by Great Freedom Adventures Owner Jeanne Rummel
With input from GFA Tour Leaders