There are many styles of bicycle touring.
At one extreme are independent cycling holidays by those who map their own routes and find camping or lodging as they go. At the other end are cushy catered affairs where sag wagons wait at the bottom of every hill and cyclists find a chocolate on their pillow at 5-star hotels every night.
Somewhere in between are self-guided bike vacations, which cost more than independent bike rides but less than typical guided tours.
The self-guided bike tours have developed over recent years for bicyclists who are comfortable rolling down the road on their own, but want to leave the logistics of finding the best routes and lodgings to someone else.
For cyclists who wonder what’s offered in self-guided tour packages, Loren Siekman has written a free guidebook on how to find the right self-guided bike tour entitled “The Beginner’s Guide to Self-Guided Cycling Adventure Holidays.”
Now Siekman is founder of Discover France Adventures and founder/president of Pure Adventures, two outfits that specialize in self-guided bicycle tours in Europe. The guidebook doesn’t necessarily point readers to his company, however. It is useful for those wanting to find a self-guided bike tour company and learn what services they should expect.
Choosing a tour company
Self-guided bike tours generally offer lots of flexibility to travelers about when they ride and who they ride with. You can even take a self-guided tour on your own. Services include detailed bike routes, with options, and suggestions for sightseeing. The bike tours should include luggage transfers as well as local support for any problems that crop up.
The book offers hints on how to find self-guided bike tour companies. Siekman suggests using specific keywords in searches like self-guided cycling holidays and naming favored destinations. Reviews of self-guided bike tours are offered on some websites, such as Bike Tour Reviews, Pedaling.com, and Cycling Tour List.
Contact two or three choices. They’ll want to know if you’re an experienced bicycle tourist and whether you’ve previously ridden in that country to determine what tour package is best.
Siekman says there are eight questions you should ask:
- What meals are included
- What accommodations are included
- What kind of bikes and equipment are included
- Do they know about repairing bikes
- Does the operator seem knowledgeable
- Is there an orientation and bike set up at the start
- Is there emergency support
- Are there inclusions and exclusions
These tips should go a long way toward helping bicycle enthusiasts choose a self-guided bike touring company for an upcoming vacation.