Do you enjoy being out and about in nature? Do you like to move and experience landscapes close up? If so, cycling is the way for you to spend your vacation.
Cycling tours offer all of this and more. It’s not about getting to your destination as fast as possible. It’s about enjoying each leg of the route and the feeling of being on the road. Cycling vacations are often referred to as ‘soft tourism’ that protects the environment while promoting health and well-being.
There’s a reason why independent cycling tours are becoming increasingly popular, especially in today’s day and age. We want to leave our stressful daily lives behind and find a way to relax while also traveling more sustainably than we might have done a few years ago. According to the statistics portal, Statista , cycling vacations have become significantly more popular recent years. Around 4 million Germans went on cycling trips in 2014 and that number increased to 5.4 million in 2019.
This trend reflects just how popular the concept of conscious and less hectic slow travel has become. And what better way is there to do just that than by traveling by bike? Just pack your saddle bags, plan your route and off you go. But perhaps it’s not always as simple as it seems, which is why it’s important to consider the question: What is the best way to plan a cycling trip and what do I need to keep in mind? The following five top tips for cycling trips will give you the answer.
Before you can hit the road, you need to make some basic decisions. You need to ask yourself the following questions: Do I want to travel alone, with a partner or in a group? Do I prefer mountains or lowlands? How far can I ride in a day?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how many miles you can ride in a day. It depends on your personal fitness, your physical condition, your experience, the condition of your bike and the route (mountains or flatlands?).
Which takes us to the question “Where should I stay?”. The most obvious choice is either a hotel/guest house or your tent. If you decide to stay in a hotel or a guest house, you will be able to enjoy the additional comfort and not have to carry your camping equipment with you. Relying on your tent is a bit more adventurous, but you will also be much closer to nature. This choice, of course, if entirely up to you.
If you are new to bike trips, it definitely makes sense to make your first trip somewhere local. That will help you build confidence and gain an understanding for this type of travel. Cycling conditions along the route of your choice are another important aspect to consider. Make sure all the cycling paths are in good condition. When it comes to planning your route, it can be helpful to take a look at some books, maps or even apps beforehand to check out the route profile.
If you don’t want to travel alone or if organizing an entire cycling trip seems like too much trouble, you can always book a guided cycling tour. By taking the planning out of the equation, guided trips are a great way for beginners to get started with their first bike tour. Keep in mind, though, that you won’t be as flexible on a guided tour and won’t be able to make your own decisions on the road. If you prefer to travel independently, it’s better to plan your trip based on your own criteria and preferences.
Tip 2 – Equipment and gear
Let’s go down to the nitty gritty – the equipment. You’re probably wondering “How much luggage do I need to bring with me?” It’s essential that you bring the right equipment with you on your trip. In general, pack as little as possible to avoid carrying unnecessary weight around with you. Don’t carry a heavy backpack, particularly if you’re going on a longer trip. Your back will thank you.
So, what are the essentials that you need to pack for your cycling trip? Keep the following categories in mind when packing:
1. Cycling equipment:
Standard panniers are typically attached to the rear of your bike. If you need room for more luggage, two additional bags can be attached to the front of the bike (lowriders). The most important aspect you need to consider when choosing a saddlebag is waterproofing. We also recommend adding a smaller handlebar bag for your mobile phone, wallet, important travel documents, train tickets, etc. And don’t forget to pack your camping equipment should you decide to go on a more adventurous trip. The best option is to stow it in a backpack attached to your luggage rack.
Bonus tip: Stow your rain gear at the top of your saddlebags as the weather can change quickly.
Body care & health:
2. Technical equipment
Orientation and navigation aids:
Orientation and navigation aids are essential for your cycling trip. You don’t want to get lost and have to backtrack. Helpful apps and websites like Komoot, , Outdooractive and Eurovelo allow you to easily plan your route in advance.
Physical maps can be a very effective tool. Using physical maps may seem outdated to some, but they are still highly useful, especially when you don’t have a mobile signal. Of course, you can also download offline maps from Google Maps. Using a GPS system or a bike computer is also very helpful and allows you to follow your route on the go. Just attach the device to your handlebars with a special holder.
Other technical equipment that you should definitely pack are a camera (for some their smartphone will do), a torch or headlamp and, very important, a bicycle dynamo that charges your USB devices while you pedal to make sure your phone battery is always full. Pretty handy, right?
If you’re traveling in a group, the CEECOACH PLUS communication system is another helpful gadget. It allows you and the people you are riding with to stay in touch at all times. It keeps you connected with the other riders in your group via a secure network, so you don’t need to rely on the mobile network or Internet, which is particularly helpful in remote regions.
Group members who cycle ahead and lose their connection are automatically re-connected as soon as the distance is reduced.
Let’s talk about the most important question: Should you take your own bike or a rental?
If you want to take your own bike, it’s important to carry out a thorough check to make sure everything is in good riding condition. After all, your bike will be your primary mode of transportation on your trip. Take some time to check your brakes, gears, lights and, of course, your chain. Did you know that bike chains wear out over time, which is why you should give it a good cleaning every 400 km.
There’s no universal answer to the question of whether you should take your own bike or a rental on you cycling trip. It all comes down to personal preference. Both options come with pros and cons:
|Pros of taking your own bike||Pros of taking a rental bike|
|Comfort: You know your bike best and can rely on the fact that it is the right size for you||Convenience: You can rent the bike directly at the starting point of your trip without having to worry about transport.|
|Cost: It’s cheaper than renting a bike||Condition: Rental bikes are always in top condition because they are inspected regularly.|
|Luggage: You can pack as you like without having to pay extra fees.||Suitability: You can select your rental bike according to your planned route (trekking bike, touring bike, road bike).|
|Cons of taking your bike||Cons of taking a rental bike|
|Wear: It’s impossible to avoid wear and damage on a long cycling trip.||Comfort: Rental bikes just can’t offer the same comfort and familiarity as your own bike.|
|Convenience: Transporting your bike from your home to the starting point of your route by train or car can be quite inconvenient||Cost: Renting a bike means you have to pay for it.|
Ultimately, the choice you make comes down to personal preference, cost and circumstances. Our advice: compare rental prices carefully beforehand, take the bike out for test ride if possible and clarify equipment such as frame size, saddle and gears. That will help you find the best solution for your needs.
Whether you decide to take your own bike or a rental on your cycling trip, there’s always a chance that you might break down. That’s why there is some basic bike equipment that you should pack for your cycling trip.
As mentioned above, it makes sense to make your first cycling trip local. Choosing a local route also saves you the cost of a train ticket.
The German cycling network of long-distance cycling routes (the D Routes) was introduced in 2002, giving cycling travel in the country a boost. The network is made up of planned cycling routes throughout Germany, which are marked with signs showing a bicycle and the relevant number on a red background. Which routes are particularly popular in Germany? Let’s take a look at 3 beautiful long-distance cycling routes.
Let’s start our overview with the River Elbe Route (D10)
From Bad Schandau to Cuxhaven
This cycling route along the River Elbe has been among the most popular in Germany for several years in a row, and it’s easy to see why. The River Elbe Route has a lot to offer. The picturesque Elbe Valley, idyllic little towns and many more sights are waiting to be discovered along the way.
The River Elbe Route (D Route 10) consists of 15 stages (one per day), but you can also plan your tour based on your personal needs and preferences. You can start at any part along the route and choose which direction you want travel. Easily visible signs with a curved E are placed along the route to mark the way.
Enjoy your cycling trip along the River Elbe Route (D Route 10).
From Hann. Münden to Cuxhaven
The Weser Route is also one of the most popular routes in Germany. This route features a wide variety landscapes along the way. The tour takes you through the Weser Uplands, the Teufelsmoor moorland, the Cuxland region and the Hanseatic city of Bremen as well as scenic towns with timber-frame houses and, last but not least, the beautiful North Sea coast.
The Weser Route consists of 15 stages (one per day), but you are free to define your own sections of the route. You can start at any part along the route and choose which direction you want travel.
What are you waiting for? Hop in the saddle and ride the Weser Route!
From Winterberg to Duisburg
The Ruhr Valley Route opened in 2006 and was named “Cycle Route of the Year in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia” just one year later. One reason for this title is likely to be the fact that you cross the River Ruhr a total of 36 times during the tour. You also have several opportunities to discover scenic towns and cities as you travel the relaxed stages of the well-marked route, including traditional towns like Bestwig, Meschede, Menden, Schwerte, Witten and Oberhausen.
The Ruhr Valley Route is split into 5 stages (one per day), but you are free to define your daily travel distance. You can start at any part along the route and choose which direction you want travel.
Enjoy your cycling trip along the Ruhr Valley Route!
Feeling overwhelmed by all the information on how to plan your trip? Remember, even though organizing your cycling trip may seem quite complicated at first, once you are in the saddle and feel the wind on your face, all that stress will just melt away. The beauty of cycling trips lies in their spontaneity and the opportunity they give you to connect with nature and yourself. You can tailor each trip you take to your own needs.
Another piece of advice: Don’t let others influence or put pressure you. Always ride at your own pace and enjoy every moment. As the saying goes, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey you take along the way.”