Preparing for your first bicycle tour can be both very exciting and overwhelming. After all, you are about to embark on a new adventure with an element of uncertainty. As a first timer, it is always a good idea to start small and get some bicycle touring experience before venturing on very long journey covering far too many kilometres. Also be sure to check your bicycle and do some pre-touring maintenance. It is also a good idea to carry out maintenance throughout the tour.
Much like learning any other skill, bike touring requires the good old common sense, as well as trial and error. To start off, set yourself a tour of about 3 to 5 days maximum. Try not to cycle lengthy distances as this will burn you out quickly. It is very easy to get carried away in the first 2 days. But remember that you must save energy (and enthusiasm) for the days to come. Anything between 15 to 20Km will do the trick for the first couple of days.
Keep your pre-tour spending to a minimum. Don’t spend too much on the latest bicycle gear and accessories. Keep it simple and to the bare minimum. It is essential that you bring a small tools kit for bike maintenance and a spare inner tube in case you get a flat tyre. You will end up realizing that in fact you can just make it with most of the stuff you already have stored in your garage.
Another important tip is to get familiar with the hosting country’s culture/language. Rely less on GPS and Google, and get involved with locals, especially when asking for directions or any other relevant information. People in general want to be helpful and some even get intrigued by seeing new people in the area. That will add more value to your experience and make it more exciting.
If things get too tense with cycling and eating baked beans and bread every day, you can just take a break. Find somewhere nice, calm and relaxing to get some rest and eat good food. After all you must reward yourself for the progress made so far (given that it is only your first bike tour). This is also a good opportunity for you to try some local food and traditional dishes. From there on, once you get back on tour be sure to carry enough water with you to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun if it is a very hot day.
Make the experience count and be flexible with your plans. Explore the unknown and venture a bit off the main roads. Take each day as it comes, and use your spontaneity. Take lots of pictures and video footage as these will become valuable memories. Last but not least, stay safe by following road safety regulations and take good care of your health throughout the entire tour.