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Training for Your First Bike Tour

“I haven’t been riding much this year, can I still do this tour?” 

I’ve heard this question many times from guests before they sign up for the bike tour of their dreams. 

First of all, you’re probably in better shape than you think you are. I think that the group factor makes folks feel more self-conscious of their fitness level than they might otherwise feel. Worries about being the last person into the lunch stop or holding people back are conversations I have nearly every day with folks looking for their next adventure.

It’s completely reasonable to feel some nervousness going into a vacation that combines being active with group dynamics. But rest assured, no one else is worried about how fast you’re going – they’re all busy worrying about themselves! Our guides offer great support and it’s their job to take care of the flow of the day. If a guide needs someone to start a little earlier than the rest of the group, or to boost someone to the next rest stop, they’ll take care of that. Your job is simply to pedal at your own pace, enjoy the scenery and take lots of pictures!

A training buddy is always a great person to have when you’re getting ready for a tour. Chief Happiness Officer, Camille, is one of my favorite training buddies!

That being said, there are some things you can do in order to feel comfortable and set yourself up for success during your week of riding, especially if you’ve signed up for a tour that feels like it will be a challenge. 

I think there are two main factors when it comes to enjoying 6 days of riding in a row, and those are your legs and your butt. Can your legs pedal the miles and can your butt sit in the saddle for that long? 

I encourage folks who haven’t been on a tour before to start getting out on the bike multiple days in a row a couple of months before your tour if possible. I also encourage people to think less about being able to do one big ride at a time, and instead focus on being able to do short to medium rides, multiple days in a row. Consistency is your greatest ally when it comes to training and being able to sit in the saddle for several hours multiple days in a row will be key to your overall comfort on tour. Mileage will vary depending on what tour you’re signed up for but I would say for most of our trips, being able to ride 20-35 miles per day for 3-4 days in a row is a good indication that you’ll be feeling good. 

Take a look at the climbing on the tour you signed up for. If you’re doing a trip like Hells Canyon & Wallowas or Mt. Rainier to Mt. Hood, you’ll definitely want to be getting in some hills beforehand. If you don’t readily have hills available try to find some nearby or try riding into a headwind to help you get used to the feeling of pedaling more slowly against extra resistance. Bike trainers and stationary bikes, like Pelotons, can also be beneficial for hill training. 

Hill training will feel 100% worth it when you get up climbs like Mt. Lemmon on our Arizona Sonora tour!

Lastly, remember that our tour days involve regular rest stops and chances to get off the bike for a few minutes. These short breaks will help you get through all the miles for the day. We don’t go out and ride for several hours in a row like you might if you were leaving from your house for a training ride. And if you’re feeling fatigued, grab a quick boost in the van, that’s what it’s there for.

At the end of the day, remember that this is a vacation, not a race! You’re about to embark on 6 (or more) days of being in the great outdoors, with other wonderful people who also love riding – what a treat! Slow down a bit, enjoy the ride, and Pedal Happy. 

Cheers,
Meg

When we say “Pedal Happy” we mean it! Make new friends, see beautiful new places, and have a fabulous week on the bike.

PS: Looking for a tour that combines beautiful scenery with shorter rides and minimal climbing? These 3 destinations have the least amount of overall climbing of all of our tours:

Arches & Canyonlands Multisport
Bryce & Zion
Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes



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