Hit the Vacation Trail With a Bike Trip

Need new vacation ideas? Try a healthy, green travel alternative to the beach by taking a bicycle tour.


| January 25, 2011



Bicycle Touring

Bike trips give you the opportunity to really experience the scenery and landscape of your vacation destination.


PHOTO: VINCE GAYMAN/FOTOLIA

Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot. This can be the extent of your worries on a bike trip, where you simply spend your time pedaling and viewing the world going by at your own speed. Bicycle tours are a healthy way to get outside and see an area or region in a way you never could by car or plane. With new bike routes and bicycle trails criss-crossing most states and even connecting several cities, getting away on just two wheels is a more accessible — and fun — vacation idea than ever before.

Jeff Miller, President/CEO of the Alliance for Biking & Walking, describes bike touring as “one of the best ways to really, truly see a place; where your trip is about the journey and not just the destination.” After riding across the United States and spending 14 months riding across 15 countries, Miller has experienced this firsthand!

As with most vacations, going on a bike trip can be as intense or relaxing as you choose. Whether you decide to bike across an entire state, camping as you go, or just want to cycle an easy path and find a comfy respite in a cozy bed-and-breakfast, there are multiple options for you to pick from when you plan your ideal bicycle vacation.

Getting Started: Bike Gear and Pre-Tour Training

The type and amount of gear and supplies you will need will be based on the length of your vacation, the weather conditions during your tour, whether you are camping or staying indoors, and any other special needs you may have. The Adventure Cycling Association provides a guide on what to take and how to pack, including specifics for camping and foul weather conditions. As a general rule, lighter is better. Most tour providers will give you a list of necessary equipment specific to your chosen route.

Miller says his No. 1 piece of invaluable equipment when going on a cycling tour is “a camera or journal to remember the special and intimate details that happen.” He adds that proper clothing are also vital — if you’ve never tried a pair of padded shorts, get a pair or two you are comfortable in before your first tour. Miller recommends bringing two pairs, and washing them on alternate days. Sunscreen and sunglasses also make a world of difference. 

Naturally, the biggest piece of equipment you will need is your bicycle. If you’re taking a short bike trip, check into renting a bike from a local bike shop where you’re touring to save the cost of shipping your bike. (Check out this searchable website to rent a bicycle from bike shops across the country.) Longer tours, however, can be more comfortable if you’re on your own two wheels. Some cyclists ship their bikes ahead of time if they are headed far from home, but that quickly increases the carbon footprint of what could be an eco-friendly vacation. Start by checking into bike trip options in your region instead of looking far away, to have a green vacation while also getting a unique look at the natural beauty of where you live.





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