Forum home Road cycling forum Tours, routes, audaxes & organised rides Tour & expedition

Newbie - looking to do a tour

edited December 2010 in Tour & expedition
Hi there

I really hate to bother you guys (as you must get this all of the time), me and a few mates are going to seriously looking into doing a cycling tour this summer. We will be raising money for charity. That is the official reason why we are going.

We will be new to this type of thing. 2 of the guys we have going will be considered unfit (well at this stage), and 2 of the guys will be thought of as reasonably fit. The other 3 guys are triathlon athletes so they should find it quite easy in comparison. All of us are about 25-30.

We are however complete novices on this sort of thing. We have a rough idea of going from London to either Cadiz in Spain or to Rome. We wouldn't be fussed about the time frame, just as long as we get there and can get the train back within 3/3.5 weeks. We will look for previous threads where possible on things like routes and stuff. I know it must be a pain for you serious posters to read this sort of thing.

Can anyone advise us on a few things such as:
1. Budget (how much we could be looking at having to fork out on kit and expenses).
2. Preparation (if we need a lot of training or if you can get by as long as you are not restraint by time)
3. What we need to consider

If people can help me out here you will have my greatest gratitude.




  • rc856rc856 Posts: 1,139
    Hi Dave and welcome to the forum :)
    Haven't done a tour myself but to get some answers on the go....

    With regards to your budget, it depends on if everyone has a bike capable of lasting the trip?
    Assuming you have bikes, have you got adequate clothing? Maybe the triathletes in your group have a fair idea about this?
    It should be easy enough to get a cost for your train tickets. Where are you staying?
    Hostel? Campsite?

    Sit down with your mates and map out how far you plan to go in any given day and then look for places to stay based on that.

    As for training. Get out and ride!! :) Use each other to motivate one another.
    You might find that it might not be the distance you're covering each day that's painful, it's getting your body used to being in the saddle for xx amount of hours day after day....if you're planning to ride every day?
  • pneumaticpneumatic Posts: 1,989
    If you are camping, it will be cheap but difficult to budget for precisely, as campsites in France, for example, vary in price between 1.5 euros and 25 euros per person per night and it is not always predictable which will charge what. Still cheaper than hotels, though.

    Your other expense is food. You'll need a lot of it: touring is a hungry business. If you self-cater, you'll need to take the equipment with you.

    To balance your abilities, you could put the triathletes on touring bikes with four panniers each and the less experienced on unladen bikes. Gradually, over the journey, you could reorganise. This is what sherpas do in the Himalayas, apparently.

    As for training, the most important thing to know before you set out is that you are capable of doing 100km days in the saddle. It is not just the legs, but also the contact points, shoulders and neck that you need to toughen up a bit.

    Otherwise, go for it. It'll be a blast.

    Fast and Bulbous
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • HoopdriverHoopdriver Posts: 2,023

    I've done quite a bit of touring, in a lot of places, although I've not ridden London-Cadiz or London Rome so can't speak to your route. As was said above, what you need will to buy and carry depend on how you plan to sleep at night - camping or in youth hostels/B&B/hotels etc. Obviously you need to carry more gear if you are camping. With YHA/B&B/hotels you need to carry more money!

    You say you are complete novices. That could mean anything - do you have bicycles, or are you about to buy some?

    It sounds like you have varying degrees of fitness within your group. Before you leave you'll want to sort out your relative expectations on how far and how far each day you plan to go, in order to keep everybody happy on the road. If time is really not much of a concern, it is quite possible to get fit on the road, as long as you start off reasonably comfortable with being on a bike in the first place. Go slow, take it easy, and your strength and endurance will build by themselves.

    The worry could be though that while this fitness transformation is taking place the triathletes among you could become impatient.

    Getting out and riding, putting in the miles before you start, would be a very good thing.

    Bicycle touring is a great way to travel. It may seem daunting if you've not done it before, but believe me, it's not that tough; you'll have a great time. But what you need to do now is sit down with your mates and think out exactly what you want to do, and howe you want to do it. And then if need be come back with some more precisely focussed questions.

    Good luck
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    There are two approaches to cycle touring:
    Ride hard, cover as much mileage as possible and climb as many mountain passes as you can.
    Ride to a nice cafe and relax over coffee and cakes as you watch the first group sweat it out, then amble over some pretty countryside enjoying the scenery. Sure there will be some physical challenges as well as navigational issues but its a holiday.
    If your group contains a mix of these, there will be trouble.

    The kind of fitness you need for B-type touring is basically saddle time over at least 3 months of regular riding. You need to accustom yourself to being in the saddle for 5-8hrs a day. Commuting to work and the odd weekend day ride is ideal training.
    As a newbie you also need to find a bike that fits you, I dont just mean the frame size. You need to find a good saddle, find a good position for your bars and saddle. That can take some experimentation.

    You will need to do a local shakedown tour to test your kit. This can also be used to guage your compatibility.

    Returning a group with bikes on a series of trains is not trivial. It is probably quicker, easier and cheaper to fly.
  • nasznasz Posts: 88
    We have some details of costs for a 2 person unsupported ride from London to Sydney (1 year duration). Happy to provide more information if you want?
    ____(_)/ (_)
    Lunicus Cycle Club - LCC - Train hard, ride easy... - London to Sydney on Recumbents 2005/6
  • Dave

    Try having a look at this site:-

    This following link from the same site, will take you to some guys doing a route from UK to Gibraltar, and if you look on page 2, you'll see that you could easily turn left for Cadiz. ... 27863&v=5h

    Sounds fantastic by the way. Enjoy and good luck with the fundraising. :D

    "There are no hills, there is no wind, I feel no pain !"

    "A bad day on the bike is always better than a good day in the office !"
  • Hiya guys

    I can't believe how awesome you guys are. Thanks again.

    Budget. Fairly low to quite modest. I wouldn't want to spend more than £600/700 in total on it if possible. It can rise should needs demand. We don't have any long distance bikes. One guy has an expensive racing bike. I don't think the rest of us have anything else. I have a sturdy mountain bike, but it is heavy. We have no real ideas how much we could get a passable bike for.

    Sleeping.. well we thought we would wait to see how expensive it is going to be.

    Time-wise is flexible. We won't mind not powering through. The triathletes will just get there sooner and start on the booze before us :-p

    Cheers for this. I am hugely appreciative.
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    If you are currently bike-less you need to select a bike based on how much luggage you plan to take.
    For hostelling you dont need to carry a lot so you can use a type of road bike but preferably one with low gears and threaded eyelets for fixing a rear luggage rack. These include base-level road bikes, winter training style bikes and Audax style light-touring bikes. The capability for full mudguards is always useful, esp for training in the UK. Also consider tyre clearance. A 25mm tyres is probably OK for this but the more you carry, the wider your tyres need to be.

    If you camp but dont cook you could you need a bit more luggage but could still probably manage on the styles above. Budget for at least one meal a day, the rest you can do with bread, cheese, picnic stuff.

    If you want to cook you will carry more stuff and need lower gears and more luggage. A standard touring bike (Dawes Galaxy) is probably best.

    You can do it on a standard hybrid style bike or a lighter weight MTB but these are not ideal.
    Ive dont the camp/no cook thing in Spain and France and it is a nice way to travel in foodie parts of the world. I've done the whole self sufficiency wild camping as well and it is cheaper, slower and gives you more freedom. The odd night in the wild is OK without cooking.

    The problem with your triathletes powering away is that they want to go further as well as faster than you.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    One thing to consider is getting back: travelling by train with a bike in Spain is not at all straightforward and it's only a bit easier in Italy.

    In Spain you can take bikes on most regional trains, but officially they aren't allowed on long-distance trains (even in bags) - although I have taken a bike across spain with only one row with a train guard. On the other hand Spain has a good network of fast coach services and these may be your best bet (but again, note that you will need bags).

    Italy is probably easier to get back from by train - although, without bike bags, it will be a faff as you will be only be able to ravel on regional trains.

    I would strongly urge you to check out the practicalities - you can go to the DeutscheBahn and use the advanced search facility to find trains with bike carriage facilities. this is great for France and Italy but doesn't work for Spain, I'm afraid.
  • cyco2cyco2 Posts: 593
    I think if you organised the transport there by train/plane that would be the hardest part over with. Then all you've got to do is cycle back to a port. The lighter you go the better using hostels and sort of B&B's. For a group this can be cheaper per room.
    I cycled up from Santander (Spain) to Cherberge by road with a saddle bag and bar bag. You'll need a big gap in the bar bag to carry some food for the day.
    The bike was as light as I dare with stubby tri-bars so at times I was able to achieve quite high speeds.
    At the end of each days ride pick up food/wine for the hostel and had a great time cooking/eating and wine tasting. Never having done it before, because I was travelling from hostels that others needed I was an expert.
    Because of time I could not sight see. So, decided never to do that again, to much tarmac. Have followed paths, rivers and canals since.
    My motto now is, speed is not essential and doing a small area well is better than doing a long way quickly..
    For a beginner and experienced there is no stress this way.

    If you want to be a strong rider you have to do strong things.
    However if you train like a cart horse you'll race like one.
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