Am I Fit Enough to Tour?

Cycle touring is exciting and challenging but without the fitness it will be hell. I know that some people do build up their touring gradually on a very long tour, and this is possible, but it may also mean that you’ll be doing quite short rides initially. It could also mean without the miles and experience under your belt and in your legs you might not enjoy the tour as much.

So, how do I know if I’m ready?

If you are able to do loaded back to back day rides that are as long or ideally longer than you are planning for your tour you are physically ready.

By getting long loaded practice rides in you’ll know if the saddle and your bicycle set-up is right for you before heading off on tour.

How should I build up my fitness?

Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get fit. The more time the better. The amount of time needed will vary from person to person and this depends on a variety of factors including your current fitness level, your riding experience, strength levels and your bike handling skills.

Set yourself a training schedule

Sample Training Week

•Monday – Rest

•Tuesday – Strength Training (optional cycling) / Fitness Class

•Wednesday – Indoor Cycling / Cross Training / Fitness Class

•Thursday – Strength Training (Optional cycling) / Fitness Class

•Friday – Rest

•Saturday – Long Ride

•Sunday – Long Ride

Build your mileage gradually

Increase the distances that you travel by no more than 10% per week, this will reduce your chances of injury and also means that the increase in distance each week is achievable.

Consider the terrain that you’ll be riding on your tour.

If your tour is going to be hilly, try and get quite a few hill climbs in. Do vary your training.

Remember:

•Hill training – this will give you strength and power

•Interval Training / sprints – this will help you to ride faster

•Riding long distances – this will make long days in the saddle so much easier

Do also try and incorporate some sort of cross training into your exercise program, eg. swimming, walking, running, rowing, resistance training and stretching. These activities will help to reduce your chances of getting injured and will also bring variety into your training schedule.

Going from unloaded to fully loaded

Initially ride without your panniers.  Once you’ve achieved your distance goal gradually increase your load.

Finally:

On some days on tour you’ll definitely need a strong mindset. Getting all of the training in your legs before you go out on tour will help to give you the confidence to continue to pedal through on those hard, hard days when you really just want to be curled up on your sofa reading about somebody else’s cycling adventure.

First published on Pfaffing and Cycling.

What Gear Do I need for Touring?

Fully Loaded Touring

A question frequently asked ‘Do I need a tourer for touring?’

No, not necessarily.

There are advantages to tourers

Designed to carry a heavy load.

Long wheel-base to more stable

Multiple hand position

The geometry means that it’s more upright.

It is possible to make a few adaptations to your bicycle to make it easier for cycle touring.

Fitting bar ends to flat handlebars

Changing your tyres so that they’re wider

Changing the gearing

This video goes into a lot of  the adaptations that you may want to do to your bicycle. 

These are all just suggestions and the adaptations will vary depending on the terrain that you are going to tackle.

Jo and her hybrid has cycled across France and the UK.  The only adaptation that she made was the addition of handlebar ends.

There are so many different ways of setting up your bicycle.

What do I carry with me?

As little as possible

Try and half whatever you pack.

Essentials

A tool kit which may include a puncture repair kit, two spare inner tubes, a bicycle multi-tool, a tyre boot, a bicycle pump, some spare chain links, gear cables, brake cables, cable ties, tie down strap or bungee.

A First Aid Kit.

Clothes

For credit card touring you might be able to get by on two sets of clothes. 

Don’t forget to pack for all weathers, so remember your waterproofs.

Dry bags or packing cubes can help tremendously with organizing your gear.

What to carry everything in?

There are so many choices and options available. What you ride and what style touring you are doing will also determine the bags that you use to carry everything in.

A list of what I took with me on tour can be found on my equipment page.

Originally published in Pfaffing and Cycling.

Way of the Roses

The Way of the Roses, a beautiful scenic coast to coast in the North of England. The route explore the cultural heritage many towns and cities of the red rose county of Lancashire and the white rose county of Yorkshire. The route as you are no doubt fully aware is names after the War of the Roses, a 15th century war between the English dynastic families Lancaster and York.

The route consists mainly of quiet country road, a few main roads and cycle paths too.

The tour consists of riding 170 miles over four days. Travelling West to East to take advantage of tail winds the first day starts in Morecambe at the seaside, where the tradition is to dip your rear wheel in the sea for good luck.

The Traditional Start to a Coast to Coast, dipping your rear wheel in the water.

The first two days of the tour are hilly, but hills also mean breath taking scenery, each day is 35 miles of pedalling. The the first night is spent in Airton in Lancashire and the second night in a small town called Boroughbridge which is in Yorkshire. All of the accommodation is in local comfortable Bed and Breakfasts, so an easy relaxed start to the day.

This was our third morning of English breakfasts. By now the novelty of having a fry up everyday had worn off.

The route is well sign posted. Maps and a book are also available from Sustrans.

The beauty of this route is that it is signposted all the way. The downside to the signs is that if it’s obscured by some greenery and you miss a turn off you could end up getting quite lost.

The third day is a fairly flat 50 miles ride through Yorkshire to Pocklington.

The second day was a hilly 35 miles. We had a mechanical along the way. The best thing to do whilst someone is fixing their bike is to stand , watch, have a snack whilst giving advice from a distance.

The fourth and last day is to Bridlington. Again another 50 miles which is easy to ride and navigate through some amazing countryside.

Yay!! At the end in Bridlington.

There are so many cultural sites and views to experience along the way such as Lune Valley, the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale AONB the Vale of York and the Yorkshire Wolds.

Along the route are numerous refreshment stops along the way including the Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Heritage site near Ripon.

Lots of opportunities along the way to stop and visit museums and historic building as well as to be blown away by the scenery.

Cycling in Somerset

Nicely trimmed bushes in Somerset.

Axbridge in Somerset is on the Sustrans cycle route, the Strawberry Line. It is also within easy cycling distance of Wells, Burnam on Sea and the spectacular Cheddar Gorge.

This tour is fixed base with three nights spent in an Air BnB in Axbridge. The accommodation is a very large coach house with plenty of safe storage for bicycles, an open planned kitchen, a couple of living rooms, 5 bedrooms, and its very own 36 seater cinema attached. Up to 15 people can be accommodated.

This tour is located such that it is possible to challenge yourself and visit Stonehenge or Longleat in a day but also can be relaxing with the opportunity to experience amazing sites within a short distance.

Kitchen/ Dining area
Cycling out to the Cheddar Gorge
On our way to the Cheddar Gorge
Taking a Break Whilst Cycling up Hill to get to the top of the Cheddar Gorge
Axbridge Town
Interesting Artwork in the Air B n B
At the bottom of the Cheddar Gorge
Outside of the Coach House
Out and About Discovering the Area
Playing Box Officer at the Cinema
Inside one of the rooms in the Coach house
One of the Living Rooms at the Coach house
Burnam on Sea
Taking a break in the Somerset sunshine
The Cheddar Gorge
Wells Market Place
Axbridge Town
Streets of Axbridge
Burnam on Sea
Wells

Pedalling in Provence

Mont Ventoux dominated the breathtaking views of Provence.

Mont Ventoux can be viewed from anywhere in Provence, it does dominate the local landscape and is a ride that is highly recommended on this tour.

The tour is self-guided, so plenty of opportunities to go off the beaten track and discover new adventures.

France is a cycle friendly country, be prepared for the cheers and the claps whilst pedalling up hills or mountains and the space that motorists give as they over take.

The south of France is warm and dry to enough to make camping a pleasure and spending two or three nights at each campsite makes the experience even more pleasurable and gives an opportunity to relax, enjoy and explore the area.

Lancashire Cycleway 2 nights: The Northern Loop 120 miles 3 days (Friday to Sun)

The glorious and challenging Northern Loop of the Lancashire Cycleway haven’t yet daunted the women who have completed this tour since 2013.

Starting out in Preston at Broughton crossroads, and heading first to the small market town of Kirkham the route covers several parts of the undulating Lancashire countryside.

The small country roads and paths cross the vast Bowland Fells and skirt the edges of Lancaster.

A lovely stop in Carnforth, followed by a quick drop in at Arnside and then to Borwick and our accommodation for the night….

In 2013 when this adventure first ran, Jo and Susan used the Cicerone guide which includes lots of useful hints and tips to navigate the route in tricky places. The arrival at our accommodation was suitably grand, we stayed at the impressive Borwick Hall in shared cabins and with marvellous grounds to explore. Dinner that night was in a local restaurant and breakfast the next morning was a shared task with porridge on the menu. The second day presented several challenges, most of them hilly, and off the route.  We all had a hard and endless climb over Cross O’Greet, facing the bracing Lancashire winds head on – the beauty of this climb was a stunning fast descent into Slaidburn where we found a fabulous welcome and satisfying lunch menu at the Hark to Bounty

When the group of adventurers left Slaidburn for good, they had no idea about the road ahead. When they eventually arrived back in Preston, in dribs and drabs, it was a hearty warm meal they craved, and beans on toast delivered!

Next Tour date: TBC

Book here: Link to booking

The Peak District long weekender

A marvellous free range weekender in the stunning Peak District for women who cycle and enjoy cake

Back in 2017 way before social distancing and bubbles, adventurous women enjoyed the incredible Peak District on cycles. This weekender is designed for women to explore trails and routes in small groups following well sign posted pathways between the small towns in Derbyshire

Next Tour date: TBC

Book here: Link to booking

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Coast and Castles

Exploring the majestic and ancient in this coastal and country route from Newcastle to Edinburgh

The route is the southern part and since we cycled this an alternative section has been linked which extends the coastal cycling pathways. Castles ancient and more modern are sprinkled throughout this cycle stunning route, which winds its way through the Scottish Borders and into Edinburgh.

This is a challenging route and so our tour is run over 5 days to ensure plenty of rest between some of the longer cycling days, and to take in some of the amazing sights.

There are small and quaint villages on the journey and a warm welcome from the cake shops everywhere we stop.

Next Tour date: TBC

Book here: Link to booking