Here’s a Guest Post about ratings for bike tours from Josh Weiss-Roessler.
Embarking on a cross-country or international bike tour for the first time can be an exciting activity, but you need to make sure you do some research first so that it’s exciting in a good way rather than a harrowing one. Even if you’ve already been on a cycling tour with a particular touring group, you may be interested in looking around to see what other tours are available. You want to find a ride that’s the right difficulty level, length, and in the perfect location for you.
But how do you wade through all the information out there about different tours to find the best fit? Luckily, there are plenty of avid cyclists who have put together websites with ratings for tours all over the world. Here are 5 good ones to start off your search.
Adventure Cycling Difficulty Ratings. This site offers a basic summary of what “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” and “Advanced” really mean in the world of adventure cycling. The descriptions are tailored specifically to the tours offered by the Adventure Cycling Association, but it’s still a good general overview even if you decide to do a tour with a different organization. This is a good place to start if you want to train for a certain ride and need to know what kind of terrain and mileage you should prepare for. However, once you do choose a tour group, you should check their website or talk to a representative about what their difficulty ratings really mean.
Tour d’Afrique. Want to travel to a foreign location but worried that you won’t be able to find a tour at the right difficulty level? Tour d’Afrique offers tours of varying lengths and difficulties on every continent except Antarctica. The site also has longer tours, like a 4-month long expedition along the famous Silk Road in Asia, that it breaks down into shorter legs. Each leg has its own ratings for difficulty, “far out factor,” accommodation, distance, and cost, so you can choose to either do a full tour or find a leg that works well with your skill level and budget.
Bike Tour Buzz. This is the ultimate “Bike Vacations for Beginners” website—and it has some great info for seasoned cycling tour veterans, too! Not only can you read user reviews of different touring companies, you can learn all about how to book a tour, select a destination, choose a company for your price range, train for the big event, and even pack wisely. They also operate a blog full of all kinds of cycling tips and descriptions of regions where you can ride.
The Cycle Touring Review. With the tagline “Not So Serious Cycling,” this review site quickly reveals itself to be a go-to resource for anyone who enjoys cycling but also wants to stop and take in the sights on their tour. The Cycle Touring Review was created by two cycling enthusiasts, and the reviews are their first person accounts of the tours they’ve been on. As such, this review site is not as thorough as some of the others on the list (they currently have reviews for bike tours in 7 countries), but it has a great human touch that will give you a sense of the regions and tours these two cyclists have experienced.
Bike Tour Reviews. This is probably the most thorough and comprehensive bike tours company review site you’ll find. It offers a tour group comparison chart that includes price per day, services available, countries where the companies travel, and a contact number. You can also read company reviews from actual riders who have already been on those tours and even look at a section called “6 Things the Tour Companies Won’t Tell You.” For a balanced look at dozens of touring companies that organise bike tours, this is the way to go.
Make sure that you thoroughly research the company you want to travel with and the specific tour you want to go on so that you don’t end up getting something you didn’t bargain for. If you still have questions after visiting a company’s website and reading reviews, contact someone with the organization—they want your business, so they should be glad to give you more information. If you know anyone who has already been on bike tours before, talk to them about their experience and ask if they would recommend the same touring company.
Different bike tours are designed for people who want different things out of their adventure, so learn what your options are and choose what’s best for you.
Josh Weiss-Roessler frequently writes about health, fitness, and nutrition, as well as travel, and cycling tours felt like a natural extension of that. Someday he hopes to have enough free time to actually go on one and see the world on two wheels. You can find more of his work at WeissRoessler.com.
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