Gear Up for Adventure: Prepping for a Europe Bike Tour

The wind in your hair, the power of your pedals and the open road ahead. A Europe bike tour will take you through the most iconic landscapes and historic cities and serves as an adventurous way to experience the continent. 

From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the dramatic cliffs of the Croatian coast, traveling Europe by bike gives you an intimate perspective on the places you visit and its people. 

There’s no denying that it requires a certain level of fitness and thorough preparation compared to your average vacation. With thorough preparation and packing, a multi-day European trip can be both feasible and fun.

Bicycle touring is also a popular means of active, healthy and sustainable travel. It provides opportunities to bond with fellow riders, challenge yourself physically, and discover out-of-the way destinations you might otherwise miss.

We will explore how to gear up properly for a cycling tour abroad, from understanding your route and how the climate and terrain will affect your trip to the importance of training your body correctly so you’re fit enough to take on your active escape with gusto.

Understand your route

Mapping out your cycling route is an exciting first step. Consider the key destinations you want to visit and terrain you want to tackle, using bike-friendly maps and mobile apps like EuroVelo to plot daily segments and mileage.

Make sure you factor in rest days in scenic spots to recharge, recover and get to know each destination a little better. Each location will have its own terrain and challenges to contend with so you may want to mix harder destinations with flatter, cooler spots for balance.

—> Read More: Pedal Through Paradise: The Most Scenic European Bike Routes

It can help to research the top cycling routes in the country you’re visiting, like wine trails in Tuscany or coastal roads along the Adriatic. Look for roads and paths with bike lanes, lower traffic and room for panniers, and avoid routes with dangerous traffic and poor shoulders which can make your trip more dangerous and stressful.

Though it can be tempting to overestimate what you’re capable of when you’re planning, don’t jam pack days with too many miles (more on this later). 

Not only do you want to factor in flexibility for the unexpected, but you always want to be able to enjoy your time away and you may not be able to do that if you’re exhausted every day.

Prepare physically for your trip

A cycling trip differs from your standard vacation because you’ll be active for much of the day as you journey from one location to the next. So, it’s important to make sure you’re physically prepared for the terrain.

Build endurance with long rides

Before you set off on your cycling adventures, dedicate at least 2-3 months for training to build endurance with regular exercise sessions. Focus initially on endurance by progressively increasing weekly mileage on longer rides. 

Start with your current comfortable distance such as 20-30 miles and slowly increase your long ride each week by 5-10 miles, working your way up to back-to-back 50+ mile rides. This will condition your body for consecutive long days of cycling 6-8 hours a day during the tour. 

You may also want to mix in some tempo rides at a moderately hard pace to build your cardiovascular fitness and lactate threshold for sustained efforts.

—> Learn More: Best Places To Travel In Europe For 2024

Develop leg power on hill repeats

Incorporate hill intervals and repeats to prepare for mountainous terrain, especially if you want to incorporate hikes into your time abroad. Find some steep local hills or parking garage ramps and do repeats up the hill to simulate climbing mountain passes in Europe. 

Climbing real hills outdoors is better than indoor stationary bike intervals if possible. Make the hill efforts challenging but not to complete exhaustion to better prepare your legs for the real deal.

—> Read More: The 7 Best Wineries in Tuscany

Improve flexibility with yoga

Yoga and stretching will also improve flexibility for being in the cycling position for multiple long days. Take yoga classes or follow YouTube yoga for routines that are tailored to cyclists, as these will focus on hip, hamstring and lower back flexibility as well as shoulder stretches. 

Let your body fully recover between intense training sessions to avoid overtraining injuries. You want to arrive in Europe well-conditioned and ready to pedal up those panoramic mountain passes and reach your riding goals.

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Plot your daily miles

One of the most important parts of planning a cycling trip is determining your daily mileage goals. You need to be realistic about your fitness level and past cycling experience when setting daily distances.

If you’re new to cycling, or you’ve never done a cycling trip like this before, don’t anticipate that you’ll be riding 100+ miles every day right away. 

Remember that your lodgings and sightseeing will be dependent on you reaching each location on your route, so you’ll be sticking to a schedule that your body needs to keep up with.

Start with moderate distances like 30-60 miles per day and factor in rest days every 3-5 days of consecutive riding to let your body recover. Also, as mentioned earlier, consider the terrain – hilly routes with lots of elevation gain will require more energy and slow you down, so adjust mileage accordingly.

It’s better to budget extra time rather than planning daily distances too tightly, as delays, detours and wheel flats happen, and you don’t want to spend the whole trip stressed out and panicked. 

It’s best to start conservatively with your mileage goals, as you can always add miles mid-trip if you feel up to it, but it’s hard to cut days short if the original distance was too ambitious. Stay tuned into your energy levels and adapt plans as needed.

With the proper upfront planning and preparation, you can gear up for the active adventure of a lifetime, whether you choose to explore one destination in depth or tackle a multi-location trip to see more of all Europe has to offer.

Finalizing your epic route, getting your legs ready for long days of cycling, and packing properly will set you up for success on the open roads.

The Ultimate Pre-Travel Checklist

Download ‘10 Crucial Things To Do Before Traveling Abroad’ to avoid mistakes and ensure a smooth trip; adapters and electronics, packing tips, foreign currency, phone plans, and more!

Each trip is a unique experience. Guidester personalizes your adventure, guiding you to those breathtaking sites, authentic local eateries, and hidden gems!

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