The biggest choices when planning a cycling trip will be the difficulty of your route, the length of your trip, your equipment, and which tour operator to use, if any. The difficulty of a route does not necessarily mean it is the most beautiful, which is why many advanced riders are often found in beginners’ groups. The type of equipment you use depends on where you will be cycling. Mountain bikes are a necessity if hills and altitude is in your plans, but a street bike will be fine if you stick to paved roads. Your tour company should be able to recommend equipment for any situation or provide it to you.
Your options on where, how, and when to cycle are practically endless. The number of cycling communities around the world has grown tremendously since the turn of the millennium. The Internet has revealed new trails and locations that were never before known outside of the local riders. In Peru adventure tour operators are taking cyclists to small villages once lost deep inside Andean cloud forests. In Nepal the amateur can pick up a rental in Katmandu and peddle off for a couple hours for completely unspoiled Himalayan views. With so many tour operators popping up everywhere, it is getting easier and easier to bike.
Biking/Cycling - Beginners
The amateur cyclist generally will stick to flat land or near cities, often only biking for a few hours or a few days. Many of the best tour operators will offer tours for the amateur biker or tours that will satisfy a range of skill levels. The amateur rarely brings his own equipment as biking may only constitute a part of their trip, so they’ll opt for a rental from their tour operator or sometimes from their hotel or guesthouse.
The amateur can explore wine regions, hopping from vineyard to vineyard in places like Mendoza, Argentina. They can cycle their way along coastal roads in California, through the Tuscan countryside, and around downtown Beijing. A beginner may even manage to cover some fairly long distances and basic descents. Confidence in a beginner’s skill level often picks up after a day or two in a particular region and may decide they are ready to take a few more risks.
Biking/Cycling - Advanced
Changes in altitude found all across the planet, from calf burning climbs to 3,200 foot downhill descents, are being explored on bike like never before thanks to advanced cyclists who are traveling further and further away and helping spawn local cultures of adventure bikers. Even in many third world countries you can find bike shops selling top international equipment or supplying top of the line rentals. However, many choose to bring their own equipment though. Most bike shops in North America and Europe can explain how to ship your bike on your flight over by simply boxing it up in a couple of pieces.
Advanced cyclists often choose daring adventures that climax their previous ones, either by covering long distances or heading into the mountains for steep climbs and descents. You’ll see these hardcore cyclists in the Himalayas, the Andes, or the Alps. You might catch one doing a transcontinental journey with their luggage attached to the sides of their bike.