“Be Carefree. Be Mad. Be a little bit bad.
It’s the unknown around the corner that turns my wheel.”
– motto on Heinz Stucke’s bicycle
Unless you are trying to escape winter, you don’t have to pick a far-flung destination for your bike tour. Fun and interesting adventures can be found close to home.
Head out your front door, find the quiet back roads and start pedalling towards that museum in the next county or the home of a friend living a few days down the road.
Travelling by bike brings a new perspective so the journey might surprise you with what you notice, even on roads you have driven many times before by car. Starting out in familiar territory also helps calm first-time jitters.
As the bike touring addiction starts to take hold, it’s impossible not to consider destinations further afield. Will it be a few weeks exploring mountains and fjords in New Zealand? A curry tour in India? Or perhaps a summer trip across America? You might find yourself making a long list of places you’d like to see by bicycle. When this happens, ask yourself a few questions before making your choice.
Is The Season Right?
Some people get a kick out of cycling Siberia in the winter. For most of us, that’s just called misery. Weather can have a big effect on your happiness so research the seasons to get an idea of what you’re in for. You can deal with almost any weather, as long as you know what to expect. Take note: the ‘best’ season for general tourism is not always the best for bike touring. You may prefer to go just at the start or end of low season, when there are fewer crowds, cheaper flights and the weather is still reasonable. The website Climate Charts is the best we’ve found for information on temperature, precipitation and available daylight for destinations around the world.
Does The Destination Fit My Style?
Different countries are famous for different things. Southeast Asia is renowned for its fantastic food and cheap hotels that can be found in just about any town, but if you’re hoping to go camping, you’ll struggle to find anywhere to put a tent. There’s no shortage of wilderness to explore in Kyrgyzstan but don’t go if your ‘essentials’ list includes regular hot showers and most nights in a hotel. Hospitality is a hallmark of the Middle East but some cyclists are looking for a more solitary experience and don’t want to be the constant centre of attention or invited into people’s homes.
Do I Have Enough Time?
Time is your luxury if you’ve taken a few years off to tour but most of us only get a few weeks off work and need to think more carefully about what we can reasonably do in the time we have. For tours of a week or less, stay relatively close to home. With two weeks or more, flying somewhere becomes more feasible because the journey there doesn’t take up too much of your total time off. Questions of time also apply to the route you hope to complete. Setting yourself an impossible task, like circling Australia in just 3 months (a trip that normally takes a year or more) will only cause stress and unhappiness. It’s better to do less but have enough time to enjoy the scenery along the way. Remember to allow for bad weather, rest days and any number of other reasons to take a day off.