What to include in a cycling itinerary
Is there anything better than an active holiday? You are out exercising all day and arrive at your destination in the afternoon energised and beaming with serotonin after such an action-packed and fulfilling day. You take that deserved drink and fill up on some well earned delicious food. Perfect! Cycling holidays are just the same. A bit of planning and preparation however can take them to the next level. An itinerary is a fantastic tool to create excitement prior to a trip while also adding a sense of safety and security for your visitor. In this blog, I am going to share with you a few things that I look for in a cycling itinerary.
Points to remember when creating a cycling itinerary
Get to know your visitor before getting started
It’s important you know your visitor prior to their arrival. Do they have any recurring injuries? If dining is included, do they have any allergies or dietary requirements? As it is a cycling trip, it is important to gauge their experience and comfort cycling and whether they are regular cyclists. These questions will pave the way for what angle you need to take when preparing your itinerary.
What would your visitor need to know, practice or train before heading out on their trip? Depending on the challenge at hand, those who are not frequent cyclists could be given a task of cycling a few kilometres or times prior to their trip. Once you get to know your visitor and what they want to get out of this trip, then you will know what mini challenges you can set for them. Make it fun. If it’s a group who already knows each other, why not set a competition? With apps like Strava and Komoot, it is so easy to set these challenges and track their progress.
Daily distance and gradient you will be covering
Many people like to know exactly what they will be doing during the day ahead, from the tight bend ahead to the interesting rock formation they will cycle by to their right. Two important points to include in your itinerary is the overall distance and gradient of their journey and the daily breakdown. Remind your visitor that these distances are realistic. Between the equipment that they will be carrying and the hills they could be climbing, distances will vary. Weather and seasons can dictate this too. It could be 10 kilometres one day and 50 the next. Give reasons and explanations for the varying distances. This way your visitor will gain confidence in the challenge they will be undertaking. You also want them to enjoy themselves and take in all the beautiful sights and varying landscapes they will be discovering along the way. As they say, it’s the journey, not the destination.
List of equipment needed
We cannot compile an itinerary without including equipment. Will they be bringing their own or will you be providing everything they need? If they are bringing their own, advise them on what bike and wheels might be most suitable for the terrain on which they will be cycling and the distances they will be covering. Gears and suspension are other factors, however it is important that they do not compromise the weight of the bike. Think about the seasons and the time of the year, what style of bike would you recommend to them? Also, are you travelling with all cargo on board or will their equipment be shuttled from one stop to another? If not, advise your visitor on how many panniers they might need, whether they need a cargo trailer and that something like a handlebar bag might be good for storing their valuables. Safety is an essential element to equipment. This includes helmets, bike lights, high-visibility gadgets, bike locks and a very important one, your first aid bike kit with all the necessary tools for those inevitable punctures that will happen. This would include You don’t want to overload your visitor with a list of equipment, at the same time you want to ensure they enjoy their time as best as possible. As the first Leave No Trace Principle states, plan and prepare ahead, that way it can be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
List of appropriate clothing
As mentioned before, weather and the time of year are crucial points to cover. In particular for clothing. This also goes for when they are not cycling. Bright clothing is always preferable as you want to be visible by other road users when cycling. If they are coming to Ireland, it is inevitable that they will need waterproof clothing, windbreakers and then warm clothing for when they are off the bike.
Guidelines on safe cycling
It may sound like common knowledge, but if you have international visitors coming, remind them of what side of the road they will be cycling on, any hand signals that can be used and other local road user etiquette when cycling. This is definitely important when coming up to traffic, in cities or other congested areas. List of some short simple guidelines they might need to know.
Transport or shuttle buses that might be needed
Nowadays, tourists are interested in having more sustainable transport options. In fact, a recent Booking.com survey noted that 72% wanted to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport. So when your visitors are deciding how they are going to reach you on Day 0, why not share any public transport options there are available or whether you provide group shuttle services to and from the airport or the nearest city or town?
Depending on the cycling trip you have organised and how many overnight stops you will be taking, shuttle buses are occasionally required. If you are cycling a few stages of Wild Atlantic Way or the Camino de Santiago, you won’t be heading back to the same place of accommodation each evening. Sometimes your accommodation is inaccessible by bike. In these situations, a shuttle bus is needed. Also, if luggage is being transported along the way. Inform your visitor on any of these procedures.
Create a buzz of excitement through stories and points of interest along the way
Travelling, taking up a challenge and setting out on a new journey or adventure is always exciting, so make your itinerary exciting for your visitor. Share local anecdotes of the places they will be visiting or the wonder and history behind the landmarks, monuments, and other points of interest they may be passing along the way. The more information they know, that they feel others wouldn’t know about, the more special your itinerary becomes and the more excited your visitor will be about their trip.
Add an extra element of adventure
How could you enhance your itinerary even more? Is there an additional experience to cycling that you could add? Depending on the group, and you will find this out initially when you get to know them, you could offer a night camping under the stars, bring them on an experience where they could learn a new skill, like a local pottery or breadmaking class, maybe even a beer or whisky tasting session. Are there any cool swim spots you could stop at? Could you have an outdoor yoga or rock climbing class? If they are up for cycling, they already seem like people who like the outdoors, take advantage of that. How could you make this trip the best cycling trip they have gone on? How could you make your itinerary even better?
These are only a few reminders for what you can include in your cycling itinerary, they can be adapted to your visitor’s trip. An itinerary makes your visitor's job easier. They will get all the information they might need from your itinerary without the need of further research. It also is an efficient tool for you when creating a checklist for what is needed for the trip and ensures your visitor is informed before joining you on their cycling trip.
Aoibheann is an outdoor enthusiast. Her love for the outdoors led her to become a Leave No Trace Trainer. Check out her previous blogs on what to include in a hiking itinerary and what to expect on a Leave No Trace Awareness Course.
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