I am a veteran (and a fan!) of the self guided cycling holiday: When I was working full-time in an office, I still wanted to adventure but didn’t have enough time to plan it myself. If I wanted lots of company, I would book a group tour as it was a great way to meet like-minded people, or if I wanted to go solo or with a friend, then self-guided was my choice. I have never done a cycling holiday I haven’t enjoyed – and at some point, usually on an uphill, hated!
Organised but free
The great things about a self-guided tour is that everything is organised for you. You don’t have to worry about researching and booking places to stay, which distances to do on which day, or even where to start and finish, it is all done by someone who has actually cycled the route and has researched all the best bits.
I like the fact that all your luggage is transferred for you too. It means you can have the luxury of plenty of clean cycling kit and something to change into in the evenings without having to lug it all in your panniers.
The route is all mapped out and places of interest are marked out as possible side tours. You still have the freedom to get lost at will or take a different route but at least you have something set out that you can follow.
The crucial thing is that you are free to get from stage to stage in your own time and at your own pace. If you want to spend an afternoon lying under a tree and contemplating life, you can, you just have to cycle hard in the morning.
There are plenty of challenges to be had if you go down the self-guided route which keeps it interesting. You will be supplied with maps and instructions, but you still have to find your own way. For me, this is always a challenge since I have not been blessed with a sense of direction, so always have to check and double check when I am on my own. I have been known to take a wrong turn and end up cycling 50km in the wrong direction…..
You also have to keep your motivation up. Cycling holidays are fun, they really are, but in any physical endeavour there is going to come a point when you wish you weren’t doing it and that you had already got to the apres-ski part. If you are in a group, the others will keep you going, but if you are on your own, you will have to dig deep and keep that head strong.
For me, the self-guided cycling holiday, is a great, stress-free way to enjoy an adventure. Someone else does all the time-consuming parts of planning, and the heavy lifting of transferring kit, and you just get to use your legs and your lungs and enjoy the freedom of exploring on two wheels at your own pace. It’s an ideal combination.