Common Bicycle Touring Problems

One of popular activities that travellers can enjoy is going on a bicycle tour. They can range from a leisurely ride for the family covering short distances per day to long distance speed touring.

I personally prefer the leisurely type as it allows people on the tour to experience the country and culture that they’re visiting. If you ride for very long distances every day, you probably won’t have time to actually enjoy the many beauty and cultural spots.

Bicycling Tour

Here are some common problems and mistakes that can occur when going on a cycle tour.

Feeling Weighed Down

If you’re anything like me, you like to plan everything in advance, including making a huge list of all the ‘vital’ items that you just have to bring on the tour.
It all looks fantastic on paper and you know you’ll be prepared for any situation!

But if you do this you’ll probably find the cycling quite hard going with all the gear on your bike.

So my advice is to go through your list of items and decide if each item is really essential or not. Try to reduce the load you’ll be riding with, you’ll thank yourself later once you’re on the tour.

You can also use a bicycle touring company to help with this as they usually travel with you with a van or couch nearby, carrying most of your items.

The Bicycle Breaking Down

This may sound obvious to some but you need to know at least the basics of repairing the most common mechanical and electrical problems.
At least learn how to fix a puncture and align the brakes.

Tip: One of the most depressing things to happen on a tour is breaking down in the dark, especially when the weather turns nasty. So bring a small but powerful torch, ideally a headband torch which would allow you to use both hands in the dark.

Choose the Wrong Bicycle

You need to think about the quality of the roads that you’ll be riding on then choose the correct cycle for those roads.
You have many choices such as a traditional road cycle, hybrid, mountain bike or even a fixed gear bicycle, so you need to decide which is best for your tour.

Falling Behind Schedule

It’s only natural for travellers to want to see as much of the country as possible in the time they have but planning your tour with very long distances per day can often ruin it for you.

So when you’re planning the tour, try to limit the distance that you’re trying to ride per day, especially if you’re new to doing bicycle tours. For a leisurely tour, a good distance to aim for is from 30 to 50 km (around 19 to 31 miles) per day.

Another reason for falling behind schedule is misjudging your fitness levels. You might be able to ride for 80 km as a one of day ride but what about keeping that up day after day for two weeks straight?

So try picking a conservative daily distance goal then try riding this distance every day for a week before going on the tour. If it’s far too easy then you know you can increase the daily distance. And if you find you’re struggling after a week of doing this then you know you need to cut down on the distance or get fitter fast!

Jack is a writer, traveller and cyclist. He is writing for Pedaltours that runs bicycle tours in many countries including New Zealand and Vietnam. They have been doing fully guided tours since 1985 with experienced guides.

Citations: Image by betsyweber

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