America’s 35th President, John F. Kennedy, once said that “nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike,” and we couldn’t agree more—especially when you choose bicycling as your mode of exploration. When you see a new destination from behind the window of a giant tour bus, you don’t get to fully experience all the sights, smells and sounds of your surroundings like you do from the seat of a bicycle. While admittedly more active than a traditional guided tour, our bicycling vacations are still designed for travelers of all ages and abilities. We see this kind of traveling as a means of discovery—not as an athletic event meant to test your endurance. And while our daily rides are not designed to be strenuous, they do require a certain degree of stamina. To fully enjoy yourself while on a VBT vacation, you should be in good health, be comfortable cycling at a leisurely pace, and enjoy being outdoors. With that in mind, here are some recommendations for what to expect, how to train, what to pack, and much more about preparing for a VBT Biking Tour.
A Typical Day of Cycling with VBT
Each day, you’ll have a choice of various routes and distances in both the morning and afternoon. Because this is your vacation, we encourage you to ride at your own pace and stop when you want to take in a beautiful view or perhaps visit a store or café and converse with some friendly locals. A typical day starts with an included breakfast before a brief route review session with your VBT Trip leaders. They will describe the sights and the routes so that you can plan your day accordingly. During the day, you will have the opportunity to stop and visit local points of interest. One leader will be cycling with the group and one driving the support van. They are ready to handle any need, from bicycle repairs, first aid and snacks to riding tips and information on the area. When your day’s ride is complete you will have some time to relax, enjoy your hotel’s amenities, or take a stroll before dinner.
How to Prepare Physically
While your pedaling on tour will be at a leisurely pace, hopping on your bike at home for some pre-tour cycling will make your vacation more pleasurable. If you are not an avid cyclist, that’s ok, but we recommend that you begin training a few months before your departure date. Start off with any distance and pace that is comfortable for you. On each successive ride, try to gradually increase your mileage until you are able to comfortably cycle roughly 25-30 miles at a time. Although any form of aerobic activity is good, it’s best to try and go for a bike ride three or more times per week. Stationary bikes and spinning classes are not a substitute for riding on the road, but they do offer a great means for training during the winter months. Although we develop route options for cyclists of all abilities, you may encounter occasional grades, even on the shorter routes. Therefore, it is important to include some hills in your workout. After a day of riding, stretching is especially important to prevent muscle and joint stiffness. For more info, check out this video:
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Choosing Your Bicycle
Each traveler gets to use a custom VBT bike while on tour, which we offer in both hybrid and road styles. Each bike is equipped with a wide gear range, a rear luggage rack with a rear rack bag with safety triangle, bell, water bottle cage, a water bottle (yours to keep), and a rear view mirror. In 2016, we are also offering E-bikes for those looking for some extra support when needed, making for an easier and more comfortable ride. Click here to read more in-depth about the bikes we offer.
What to pack
Since you’ll most likely be taking an airplane to get to your destination, you’ll want to be cognizant of the amount of stuff you can fit in your checked bag. When cycling, it is best that you dress in layers that can be put on and taken off during the day as temperatures change. We recommend polypropylene, lightweight wool and similar synthetic fabrics which wick away moisture. A windbreaker or light shell is also useful for cool mornings and days that are a bit chilly. Adequate rain gear is a must! Pants and a jacket made of Gore-tex or similar waterproof, breathable fabric will keep you comfortable and dry if needed. Padded cycling shorts will add considerably to your comfort. For more packing tips please click here or watch this video:
[embed width="560" height="315"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pmzpIREjFs[/embed]
To learn more about biking the world with VBT please click here and to request a VBT catalog in either print or digital format, please click here. To reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.