Bicycle touring for beginners

Bicycle Touring Beginner Mistakes

After more than ten years of leading touring trips with small groups of friends these are some common bicycle touring beginner mistakes I frequently see.  Some are quite obvious yet cyclists do not always follow them.

Sightseeing – cyclists who want to stop and see every castle (or similar attraction) along the way. I generally find this with first timers who are bicycle touring. Do your research prior to leaving and only stop at the best or most interesting places the region has to offer. Along some routes in Europe you could be stopping one or two castles every day which also adds to the trip cost and wastes time, unless you are really into castles.

It is important to stop and smell the roses so to speak along the way. Do stop and see major attractions and enjoy festivals. For attractions check the operating hours and days and be there first so you do not waste time in lines. In Germany we got to the ticket office early for the first English speaking tour of the famous castles of King Ludwig II.  When we were leaving there must have been over 30 tour buses. Also near closing time can be easy to get in.

Cycling distances – when cycling at home you can ride anywhere from 60 to 150 km (37 to 93 miles) a day depending on you experience. Another bicycle touring beginner mistakes that often happens is to remember you are traveling with loaded panniers and as need to schedule time to see the region you are cycling through. Do not plan to cycle the same distances as at home. And if you have not reserved accommodation or arranged camping additional time is required for that.

When bicycle touring some cyclists move to a new destination every day which is what I did on my first few trips. Plan some stops of two or three days to explore an interesting area and relax. On an extended trip it is not fun to pack and unpack every single day, it actually becomes a chore.

Bicycle touring packing – one of the biggest bicycle touring beginner mistakes for for first timers packing far too much to handle any contingency. In fact some of the gear you carefully loaded in your panniers never gets used. Plan two sets of cycling clothing and one other plus some bike tools and a tooth brush. Well actually this is my suggested bicycle touring packing list.

If you forget something or are in desperate need, buy it along the way. In all my bicycle touring over ten years with many cyclists we have never had to make a major purchase although we did purchase bicycle jerseys on one trip because we liked the design

A few years ago while bicycle touring along the Danube Bike Route on our way to Vienna two members of our cycling group discovered that very thing. We made an unscheduled stop at the post office in Krems where they promptly obtained some boxes and mailed their excess gear to our final destination. That was day 3 of a 17 day bicycle tour and they never missed that excess gear.

When riding with a group – if you are cycling with two or more colleagues spread some of the gear between you. For example everyone does not need a full set of heavy tools, a first aid kit and heavy travel guides. Split these items amongst your group members. If you are camping this is even more important.

Bicycle touring beginner mistakes

Bike Shop, Keswick, England

Bicycle repair – Is you bicycle in good repair prior to departing your trip? Have it checked unless you are using rental bicycles. Just carry basic tools and a spare tube because unless you are bicycle touring in remote regions you can always find a nearby bike repair store.

What bicycle touring beginner mistakes have you made?  I have more information at bicycle touring for beginners.

So there you are,  some of the simple bicycle touring beginner mistakes I often see.


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