While we want you to arrive at the start of your Stephanie Ventures bicycle tour with unbridled enthusiasm, it’s equally important that you bring along bike handling skills and fitness to ensure you thoroughly enjoy your cycling holiday and return home ready to join us on another one!
All Stephanie Ventures tours are rated according to distance, elevation changes, and climate in the regions we visit. Most of our tours are rated Level 1 or 2, appropriate for novice, intermediate or advanced cyclists as long as they come prepared.
Remember that you will have the option to ride almost every day on our tours, so if you can progress to the point where you can comfortably ride four times per week for 25 – 35 miles per ride, you should arrive prepared to enjoy our daily rides on tour.
Cyclists who join us will get the most out of their bike tour if they also have these necessary bike handling skills:
- Shifting gears – knowing when and how
- Maintaining safe distance – between themselves and other riders
- Controlling speed – accelerating, slowing, turning, stopping as necessary
- Riding comfortably – at 12 mph pace
- Use of directional hand signals – key to avoiding accidents and injuries
We review these and other safety measures during our welcome briefing.
If you do not live in a climate that facilitates outdoor riding in the winter, chose indoor cardio activities that allow you to build or maintain year-round fitness, so that when spring arrives, you’ll already have some basic fitness to build on. Be sure to discuss any new exercise routine or activity with your doctor, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Cross—training is a smart way to avoid overuse injuries and round out your fitness.
Working out on a stationary bike, treadmill or an elliptical, even swimming at your local gym can help you get fit before you start riding outdoors.
If your gym offers classes or there is a studio in town, yoga is an excellent practice that stretches cycling muscles, builds core strength, improves balance, flexibility, and mental focus. If yoga isn’t your jam, consider lifting weights a couple of days each week with a trainer who can demonstrate proper technique.
Start your outdoor training at least twelve weeks before the start of your tour.
That way, you can slowly build endurance for longer rides and develop strength to tackle the gentle rolling hills on our tours.
We do stop frequently to stretch, admire the view, visit an interesting site, or refuel with a pastry, coffee, glass of wine…or beer…it’s your vacation after all!
Do you ride alone or with a group of people? If you ride alone, we encourage you to work group rides into your schedule. You can meet likeminded folks by joining a local cycling club or searching for a cycling group on Facebook or MeetUp. Some groups cater to advanced riders, but most welcome novices and intermediate level riders, and offer a wide range of rides categorized by level of difficulty. When you participate in organized rides you learn to anticipate the actions of the rider(s) in front of you, be mindful of those riding behind you, and become skilled at safe riding techniques. It’s likely that you will soon get into the habit of using hand signals and verbal commands when you are slowing, stopping, or turning.
Bicycle clubs often host meetings with guest speakers who deliver talks on relevant topics like bike fitting, bike advocacy, fitness, and bike safety. Clubs usually post their calendars online with ride descriptions that include length and elevation gains to help you choose ones that are right for you. If you progress from rides rated F (flat), to E (easy) to D (some gentle rolling hills and occasional steeper grades), those will prepare you for the rides on our tours. Another phrase to look for in a ride description is “no drop” which means someone is designated the “sweep”. They ride at the back of the group to ensure no rider gets left behind. We usually have no problem getting a volunteer to sweep our tour rides, especially when there’s a free beer waiting at the end of the day!
Keep in mind that on tour we ride sturdy “touring” bikes with tires and gearing that are appropriate for the varied terrain we travel on. Sometimes we’re on paved dedicated bike paths, at other times we travel on bike lanes where we share the road. We love our ancient cobblestones in these parts, so short stretches are often part of the authentic tour experience. On occasion, we even go off road on unpaved paths so we can enjoy a short scenic ride through a quiet forest. At an average weight of 35 lbs., the bikes you’ll ride on tour are likely to be heavier than your road bike at home. However, we think they’re the best option. After all, most Europeans ride these types of bikes whether they are heading down the street for groceries or cruising through the countryside on a weekend getaway. You have the option to upgrade to an electric bike (for a fee) before you leave home, but remember they are heavier than the touring bikes so if you choose this option, get some experience with an e-bike at home before attempting to ride one on tour. Check with your local bike shop to rent one for a day or longer.
The key to getting ready to fully enjoy your tour is to start preparing at home, slow and easy and adding more time and distance “in the saddle” as your tour date nears.
We look forward to welcoming you on one of our tours soon.
Until then, keep on pedaling!