While bike tours are meant to be incredible experiences packed with fun, adventure, and learning, it’s essential to consider your safety and security. Cycling newcomers, those new to touring, and even seasoned cyclists planning excursions in new and unfamiliar locations need to keep a number of important things in mind. To help you out, here is a list of key tips to minimize risk and stay safe on your cycling tour.
Be Prepared with Proper Gear & Essentials
Your life-changing travel experience begins well before you get in the saddle. Here is a gear and preparation checklist to help ensure you have a positive cycling trip.
Clothing & Attire
Dress for safety, from head to toe!
Well-fitted helmet to protect your noggin’. If you don’t have one, Outfitter Tours will provide you with one.
Durable, closed-toe shoes to protect your feet
Comfortable, breathable, bright and reflective clothing for increased visibility
Sun safety with sunscreen and sunglasses
Money belt for credit card and valuables
A bar-bag or backpack can hold the following touring essentials:
Bottle of drinking water to stay hydrated! Outfitter Tours will provide you with one when you rent a bike.
Electrolytes or healthy snacks to boost energy
First aid kit for any bumps, scrapes and bruises
Patch Kit and Tool kit for any unexpected flat tires or repairs. Outfitter Tours will provide you with one when you rent a bike for your tour.
Extra waterproof layers in case of weather changes
Cell phone for GPS navigation, emergency contacts and taking photos
Credit card(s) and proper identification
Bike lock for deterring theft (never leave your bike or belongings unattended!) Outfitter Tours will provide you with a lock when you rent a bike.
Front and rear Lights, or rear blinker, which Outfitter Tours will provide.
Rear-view mirror(s) on handlebars or helmet
General physical fitness. Long distance cycling may require training in advance for some!
Check the weather forecast before you go in order to optimize trip timing
Ride with a buddy for increased safety and visibility
Understand the rules of the road—especially if you are abroad where the language and transportation & road rules may be different
Know your route, prioritizing wide, low-traffic roadways or those with dedicated bike lanes
If you need help planning an ideal route, including where to take breaks and where to stay, our team of expert bike-tour guides offer both self-guided itineraries and fully supported bicycle tour options!
Ride with Care & Caution
There are a variety of things to keep in mind when embarking on a bike tour. Staying vigilant and taking these extra precautions can ensure you keep yourself, and everyone around you, safe. Remember that intuition and common sense go a long way!
Alertness & Awareness
It’s important to reduce distractions as much as possible so that you can keep your eyes (and ears!) focused on the road at all times. Silence cell phone notifications and do not use headphones or any device that prevents you from hearing what is going on in the environment around you!
Another good habit: practice defensive cycling. This means keeping your attention trained on assessing any potential threats. For example, don’t rely on eye contact alone to gauge whether a driver or other person you encounter has seen you. Pay attention to their overall behavior and use signaling to get their attention.
Also take extra care when navigating the following high-risk areas, including:
- Railroad tracks
- Sandy or gravel roads
- Puddles or icy patches
- High vehicle traffic areas
- Areas with numerous pedestrians or people exiting parked cars
When you do need to use your phone, admire a view, or take a photo, first come to a complete stop in a safe place. This is absolutely critical as taking your attention away from the road for even a few moments can put you at risk. (Unlike driving, in which your car can usually surmount minor road hazards you miss seeing, even a small pothole or piece of debris can put a cyclist in harm’s way.) If riding with others, physically or verbally alert them when you see a hazard they need to be made aware of.
Obey Traffic Rules & Regulations
The best rule of thumb when riding your bike is to behave like a vehicle whenever possible! This means following traffic signs and obeying traffic laws at all times. Ride on the same side of the road as the direction of moving traffic, and always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Also learn and use appropriate hand signals to indicate to others when you’re stopping, slowing or turning. When not actively signally, keep both hands on the handlebars to maintain balance and control.
If riding with others, it is best to ride in a single-file line, leaving at least two bike lengths between you and the rider ahead of you. Always pass other riders or drivers on the left, ideally notifying them as you’re approaching so they can allow you to safely pass.
Rest assured, our tour guides will always give an overview of local rules and regulations, as each country has different cultural expectations for riders and drivers.
Cycling with Confidence & Comfort
If you are new to bike touring, this can translate into pressure or anxiety to “perform” by setting a certain pace or achieving a certain distance. It’s important, however, to resist this impulse as overestimating your abilities can lead to poor judgment and risky riding decisions, especially around speed or in the assessment of your environment.
Instead, be mindful of your personal limits: this will help you remain confident and in control at all times. Remember that it’s ok to dismount off your bike and walk it when you feel uncomfortable riding, as this ultimately will be safest for yourself and everyone around you. And, when you are tired, simply take a break to hydrate and recharge.
Your general state of mind is important: being out in the open on two wheels is always an adventure, so cultivate an attitude of curiosity, openness, and friendliness. This approach will prepare you for awe-inspiring and wonderful experiences interacting with your environment and people in it, whether you are riding through peaceful countryside, or cycling around communities and experiencing their culture. It’s not often you get to experience a life on two wheels, so we say live it up!
Let us plan your dream bike vacation
On an Outfitter Tours cycling vacation, understanding safety rules and guidelines is one key to having a superb travel experience. But, while safety comes first, our other priority is your enjoyment! We want you, above all, to have fun and embrace the joy of cycling, and a supported cycling tour can help you do just that.
Outfitter Bicycle Tours provides custom and unique travel experiences throughout the most scenic regions of France, Italy, and the USA. Our international cycling vacations offer world-class scenery, history, culture, and camaraderie. We provide custom bike tours with the convenience and expertise of a professional local guide, as well as self-guided options for those who prefer setting their own journey and pace. Contact us today to start planning your dream bicycle vacation!