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Cycling holidays and cycle touring breaks
are cycling and cycle touring holidays?
This category lists holidays that involve the use
of a road bike, it may be your own bike transported (or even ridden)
to the start point, or it may involve bikes hired to you by the
tour operator. Most commonly the cycling holidays and tours will
be for users of standard road bikes, but many tours will also cater
for children and some can provide children's hire bikes, adapters
and kiddie trailers etc. We also have a separate category for people
interested in tandem bike holidays.
The cycling holidays and cycle touring section focuses
on road tours, if you are interested in off-road mountain
biking and mountain bike tours
we have a dedicated category for these too.
do you need on a touring cycling holiday?
You'll need a bike of course, plus a some or all of
the following: helmet, panniers, pump, barbag, water bottle, cycle
locks, bike tools and repair kit, and spare inner tube. Many tour
operators will hire out some or all of this equipment which can
save a lot of hassle, particularly if you are travelling to some
of the remoter parts of the world. If the trip involves camping
you'll find that several operators also hire out tents and camping
Most of the self-lead tour organisers provide detailed
maps and itineraries as part of the service.
As for the rest, we recommend you learn the art of
packing light, the more you pack the more weight you have to pull
up those hills! Take the minimum of clothing, decant your toiletries
into mini bottles, choose your reading book by weight.
Clothing depends partly on where you are headed and
partly on personal preferences, but we would recommend using proper
cycling shorts or leggings (the padding can make all the difference!)
and you may find cycling gloves take the strain off the hands and
help prevent blisters. Proper cycling shoes are kinder to the feet
than ordinary training shoes and are worth considering for longer
a cycling holiday company
Cycling is a very popular holiday choice, and you'll
find tour operators of all sizes, from large well established companies
to small one or two man bands offering a very personal service.
As well as focused cycling tours, you'll also find
themed trips like 'women only' cycling tours, cycle holidays that
include historical visits or gastronomic biking tours that take
in vineyard wine tastings on route and then offer fabulous eating
in the evenings. But the most obvious decider is location; not that
that should be a problem because with so many cycling holiday operators
you'll find that most of the world is covered.
You choice of operator will not just depend on where
you want to go, there is a wide variety in the way tours are operated
too. Some are fully escorted and guided, which can be great if you
don't want to be bothered with map reading or deciding where to
go next. Others are self-guided, where the tour company may provide
the bikes, maps/printed routes, will sort out the accommodation
on-route and may even move on your bags for you each day and transport
you back to your start point at the end of the trip.
The sorts of questions you might want to ask are:
What are the group sizes and the guide-to-client ratio?
What backup is offered by way of support vehicles, spare bikes or
How are trips graded and how does that relate to your own cycling
If you choose a company from a non-English speaking country, does
at least one of the guides speak good English?
Judging a cycle holiday tour operator by their paper
qualifications can be difficult. There are no relevant international
qualifications for cycle touring leadership and national qualifications
are in short supply too.
More often than not you will need to judge on the
basis of the experience of the tour organisers; read their 'About
us' pages or ask them directly about their own cycle touring or
mountain biking experiences, check the length of time the company
has been in operation, how many clients have they had on bike tours,
and the number of years their guides have been guiding. For guided
trips we'd also recommend looking for first aid qualifications and
evidence of bike maintenance skills.
holiday companies cycle touring
The UK doesn't have one overall governing body for
biking and cycling leadership training, some qualifications exist
but most are not specific to cycle touring leadership and you'll
not find them quoted much by cycle tour operators:
Schools Cycling Association (BSCA) run a Touring Leaders course
which deals with planning and taking a group on tour, from day rides
to longer tours. They also run a Cycling Teaching certificate course
which is aimed at racing and competition cycling.
Cycling is the UK's internationally recognised governing body
of cycle sport, but it is aimed more at the racing, competitive
and club cycling side rather than leisure and holiday cycling. It
does offer coaching qualifications for racing and club training,
but not leadership courses for touring or cycling holidays.
Touring Club (CTC), national UK cycling organisation is the
accreditation body for cycle training in the UK, but it's courses
are aimed mainly at everyday urban cycling, particularly courses
UK cycling holiday companies
At present there are no national standards for mountain
bike leadership qualifications in the UK, but a variety of organisations
offer leadership awards and qualifications and you may see these
Schools Cycling Association (BSCA) run a well recognised Mountain
Bike / Off Road Leaders course, designed to enable leaders to take
young people on mountain bike tours.
Road Training Consultancy (OTC) offers some of the most accepted
mountain biking leadership qualifications in the UK. Levels range
from 'Road Leader Award' through to 'Advanced Mountain Bike Leader
The Mountain Bike Instructor Award Scheme (MIAS) has
qualifications at a number of levels including 'Low Terrain', 'Wilderness
Terrain' and 'Mountainous Terrain'. These qualifications are accredited
by the CTC and
are recognised by the AALA
(Adventure Activities Licensing Authority).
In Scotland, Scottish
Cycling run 'Trail Cycle Leader Courses' and 'Mountain Bike
Leader Courses' that are recognised as a best practise model throughout
Bike Instruction (MBI) also run mountain bike leadership courses
in the UK.
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