Thinking of a Bike Tour Vacation

My Bike! :)

My Bike! 🙂

I was chowing down some food with a friend of mine and she brought up an interesting topic, bike touring. You know, one of those three to four-day trip on bike where everything is planned for you.  The route, food, lodging and support are all provided and all you have to do is show up and pedal. We talked about it further and who could go with us and as a result, I have a hankering for a guided road bike tour somewhere in the US of A.

A bike tour is something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid. I rarely take a vacation and I’m due for one. My buddy asked me to go with her and drag her sister, and anyone else we can think of, along for the ride. Sounds fun to me! Now where to ride? East or west coast? Or maybe somewhere in the heartlands?

After doing a little research, it seems that there is a general prerequisite for any tour of any length, the ability to ride at least 40 to 50 miles a day on average or more if needed. It all depends on how far and the number of days the tour is scheduled for. I, myself, can easily work my way up to that, but my friends will need to start training for it. I’m sure they can do it, just need to devote some time to the project.

The real problem I see is which tour guide to go with. There are so many to choose from that it becomes overwhelming. The one that struck me as the most organized is the one sponsored by Trek called Trek Travel. What strikes me as being exceptional is how they categorize your skill level and then allow you to search tours that match it. Nice! I just wished others would do the same. I would hate to go through all the trouble of booking a tour and only to find out that it’s really beyond what we can do (such as too many steep climbs, or daily distance is grueling) and the tour turns from a nice vacation to work!

Where I’m from (deep south Texas), the terrain is flat, flat and more flatness. Our idea of hills are the overpasses crossing the expressway. With that in mind we would like something that is similar with some hills thrown in for a challenge.

I do want to go on a bike tour this year, but I would like real-life experience feedback from cyclists that have taken a road bike tour here in the United States. Let’s hear about your experience (good or bad), where did you go, how long was it and would you recommend the outfitter to others or not. Posting a comment would be greatly appreciated.

Keep them wheels spinning.

8 thoughts on “Thinking of a Bike Tour Vacation

  1. I have only toured independently. I have looked at a number of sites that offer supported touring vacations and considered applying as a guide. I would bet that all of these companies take skill level and fitness into consideration to a certain extent.

    My major factor in selecting a supported tour company would be location. Maybe pick somewhere you have always wanted to be and have the extra advantage of enjoying it on a bicycle. Hawaii screams out to me. A place where it would be hard to get my bike to but small enough that I could see a whole lot of it in a week. Maybe ride down a volcano.

    Another thing to consider is just going for it right out your front door. Pick a spot 40 miles away from your house that would be an enjoyable camp spot, ride there, pitch a tent, start a fire, eat, sleep, and then ride back. That would give you a really good barometer on the time and monetary investment of a bicycle tour company.

    • Colorado is pretty country but how does one train for for the altitude and the Rockies living a flat sub-tropical environment? We do have a lot of wind that could be a substitute for hills though. We need to sit down and talk this trough with each other. Transporting the bike(s) is another issue or do we get fitted for bikes at the destination?

      I like that last thought, just going out for a one-night trip locally to get the feel of doing it. Great idea.

      • I have found that the hills on the East Coast are much more challenging than the Rocky Mountains. Pennsylvania was much more challenging than any of the Rocky Mountain States. If you live in flatland just pick your biggest hill and put in one day a week of training….it may get a little boring going up and down.

        There is no way to train for the altitude except by hitting the mountains. You could get an oxygen tent…I can’t believe I even typed that.

        If you go with a paid tour group they will supply the bikes. You could bring your own saddle to make the fit more custom.

  2. I ordered a 61 cm Sirrus Limited last week based on reading your blog. I hope to get it tomorrow or the next day. I am 66 years old, 6’4″ and weigh 200 lbs, so I hope it suits me well. Thanks for all your good information about the bike.

    One very popular tour is Cycle Oregon I have done it twice several years ago. It is always extremely well organized and a lot of fun. Oregon September weather is usually great. You camp out, but they have trucks that carry your gear to the next night’s stop. Hot meals are provided during the day and they have plenty of porta-potties along the way. There is usually local entertainment and a beer tent at night. It isn’t all that expensive and it sells out early. You might want to look into it.

    • Hi Harold,

      You got a large frame bike! I hope you like it. Were you able to test ride one at your local bike shop?

      Thanks for the feedback on the tour you did … I like that beer tent idea! haha Do you recall the average miles per day? I’ll take a look at the link you provided.

  3. Hi Ray,

    I finally got my bike Wednesday afternoon. I have done three 15 mile rides so far and I love the bike. As I have not been riding for about 5 years, I am in the process of getting back into riding. I live in Coronado, CA (across the bay from San Diego) and our climate and numerous bike paths make for a perfect combination.

    To answer your question, no I did not get a chance to ride the bike before ordering. I rode a Sirrus Sport for size, and thought I need something a little bigger. After checking the sizing charts, I realized that the 61 cm limited was bigger than the XL in all the other Sirrus models. It turned out to be true and I finally have a bike that fits me just fine. The size is what made me choose the Limited. I was thinking of the Comp with an aluminum frame that I could attach racks, etc. but decided the correct size was most important. I have had two back surgeries about 10 years ago and I am happy to say that my new bike does not bother my back. My old bike did. I think I made the right choice!

    • That’s great news Harold! Are you going clipless as well? I use the Crank Brothers Candy 3’s on my bike. I know they are mountain bike clips but it really makes a difference walking after I get off the bike at a rest stop. I can walk like a regular person rather than like a penguin.

      You made the right decision on going for fit. A good fit means an enjoyable ride.

      Have fun with the bike … check in after you do a 30 to 40 mile ride and let me know how it went.

      Keep them wheels spinning …

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