Thinking of bike touring? Start here

I’m losing count of the number of times I’ve entertained the thought of doing a bike tour. London to Amsterdam would be fascinating. Not only would I enjoy the long ride but then on the other end I could be discovering Amsterdam’s cycling culture (amongst other cultures). Or how about from London to the South of France?

My friends from university cycled from London to Istanbul. An incredible feat and no doubt a journey they’ll never forget. Two more of my friends, Alex and Dan, are on their way from London to Australia.

Tackling those questions and fears

Of course, dreams like that are followed through on seldom occasions. Often it’s because you think to yourself “But how do I get that sort of time off work?”, “how could I afford it?” or “how on earth do I plan my route?”

Solving those problems and providing a huge dose of inspiration is an eBook I’ve been meaning to cover for a while. It’s called the Bike Touring Survival Guide. Written by Friedel and Andrew, the bike touring dynamic duo.

From doing laundry to finding sponsors

bike-touring-survival-guideThe advice in there ranges from the classic how to go about stealth camping to advice on what to do when you are inevitably asked questions such as “why do you not have children?”

Throughout the eBook, Friedel’s and Andrew’s vast experiences shines through and you’ll soon find yourself emailing your friends to find out who has some time to join you on a bike tour.

touring-survival-guideAll the topics are covered with ease and the Bike Touring Survival Guide leaves no stone unturned. Many of the topics covered could clearly have only come after years of bike touring. Advice such as growing your own vegetables on your bike, whilst a little extreme for most purposes, is something that I could have never imagined.

If you’ve ever thought about doing a bike tour but you are struggling with the logistics or want to hear from people who’ve been there and done it before then I strongly recommend taking a look.

friedel-and-andrew-bike-touringThe eBook has been priced at just 5 Euros. Which I believe is an absolute steal considering how comprehensive this thing is.

You can find out more about Friedel and Andrew and download their eBook from their website: Bike Touring Survival Guide

Free copy!

Friedel and Andrew were also very keen on the idea of giving two copies away for free! Of course, how I could refuse! Simply leave a comment below with your thoughts on the sort of bike tour you’d love to go on and then we’ll pick two winners.

Update: This competition is now closed!

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37 Responses to Thinking of bike touring? Start here

  1. James 23/06/2011 at 9:29 am #

    I’d love to do a bike tour. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now, probably starting with a brief tour of the UK to test the water (maybe a week long effort) and then something more adventurous into Europe.

  2. Mikey 23/06/2011 at 10:46 am #

    Love to do a ride over Stelvio Pass, then continue down into the south of Italy for a warmer ride.

  3. Michael Carter 23/06/2011 at 11:12 am #

    I’m going on my first bike tour next week. Getting a train to Mainz then cycling back to Cologne. Only around 200km but should be a good introduction and I have longer rides planned for the future. I would love to cycle the Danube and South America is also a dream destination for me.

  4. Wayne 23/06/2011 at 11:14 am #

    It’s taken about 10 months to get together all the equipment needed for a tour and I’m off to Ireland next week for seven days. I’m so excited I’m almost vibrating and I couldn’t of even begun to make it happen without the help of travelling two’s website.

    Hopefully this will lead to longer tours and bigger dreams of seeing countries under my own steam.

    Thanks guys.

  5. Chris Preston 23/06/2011 at 11:16 am #

    Does John O Grotes to Lands End count just for the hell of it ?

  6. Nathan 23/06/2011 at 11:25 am #

    Just got back from an epic ill prepared tour from london to stonhenge to see the solstice… We got on the bike with my girlfriend and a mate and set off with a rough map in head, no panniers, not that compact equipement and a very tight budget… We end up cycling scary roads, cold and miserable under the rain… We’ve seen great landscape, nice canal pathways, steep nasty hills and finally made it in time for the solstice in stonehenge… The 140km trip was a bliss and seeing stonehenge at the end was worth every single drop of rain…
    We’de like to do London to Paris ride in september and tour france later on… If the adventure is still as nice as the one to stonehenge, My girlfriend and I would love to get on an african tour from ethiopia to kenya…

  7. Gretchen 23/06/2011 at 11:55 am #

    Growing vegetables on a bike? This I’d love to see. I can see sprouting seeds to throw in a salad but a full tomato plant would be a thing of beauty.

  8. gerardo 23/06/2011 at 1:10 pm #

    I would love to ride from alaska to usuahia

    • Barry 28/06/2011 at 8:45 am #

      Me too! That would be an excellent trip! Cheers.

  9. Jason 23/06/2011 at 1:21 pm #

    I have always dreamed of riding around the Netherlands and seeing where my grandparents came from, next year I will be making it come true as a friend and I will be heading off on an epic tour from Ballarat Australia to Eindhoven Netherlands via the US, EU and UK.

  10. Mike 23/06/2011 at 5:51 pm #

    I’ve been toying with a multi-week tour for two or three years, but always come back to the same questions/excuses/cop-outs you list in para 3.
    My grandmother was Maltese, and I’d love to bike down through France and Italy and get the ferry across to Valletta, then come back through southern and eastern France, into Spain and up to Santander, then get the ferry back to Plymouth for that last day’s cycling back down through Cornwall.
    But…where to start? What do I need? Where do I kip? Will the bike survive? Will I survive?
    Much easier to read an e- book about it!!

  11. John 23/06/2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Well, I have always fancied the Idea of doing some touring in the UK in the future, taking in canal towpaths on the route with a mixture of credit card touring and enough kit to stay out overnight if needed.
    But the idea of having a parsley plant in the water bottle cage to add a bit of flavour to any of my outdoor culinary skills had not crossed my mind!

  12. Mark moynihan 23/06/2011 at 6:42 pm #

    I am shortly due another cyclesheme bike, defo going for a touring bike… Many a trip has been ruined with heavy backpacks.

    • Jay DeePee 24/06/2011 at 5:13 pm #

      Give Condor of London a ring as they bespoke fitted the frame to me and specced my own Condor Heritage bike on the Cycle To Work scheme and I paid the extra – she’s an absolute beauty with front and rear racks. You pay the extra over £1000. Mine’s been fantastic. Makes no noise at all.

  13. PKR 23/06/2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Growing up my family had very little money so bike tours became a good way to have a fun, active holiday that was also quite cheap. We would cycle down to Weymouth, camping out on the way there (pitching up tents in fields and forests) and then staying in a caravan for a few weeks before cycling home. We would try and stick in a few activities on the way, so it would often mean two nights camping before we got there. We would then use Weymouth as a base, from which we would cycle all around the area. The great thing about the school holidays (Dad was a teacher and Mum was very flexible with holidays) was that they were so long, so we were even able to cycle from Berkshire down to Penzance for a holiday a couple of times.

    Now that I’m all grown up (boo) I can only dream of being able to take that much time off of work. I think that I am going to have to start saving and planning, and save up enough so that I can take a career break for a few months. I would love to go from London to Paris, and then on through Belgium and the Netherlands

  14. Bruce Williams 24/06/2011 at 1:17 am #

    Just on 6 months ago now I had a big life wakeup call in the form of open heart surgery. I needed a valve replaced. Going through that experience has really changed my outlook on life – I now am really into the simple pleasures that life has to offer. One of these is riding my bike. Nowadays there is no rush, no finish line. I am just riding for fun. When I recuperate a bit more and get my body back into the shape and condition it was in before surgery, I plan to take my bike and cycle through so many beautiful spots that this country of Australia has to offer. I live in Sydney and would love to cycle down to South Australia’s Barossa Valley (a top wine growing area) and spent some time amongst the vines.

  15. Maria Grist 24/06/2011 at 10:18 am #

    I’ve always cycled, as a kid races around my dads forecourt, or visiting friends in the next village. Now I live in London not Devon, the cycle to work scheme meant I could afford the first decent bike I’ve ever owned, a Brompton. I cycle to work, 10 to 20 miles per day, I love it. I also have arthritis in my spine, and exercise, especially low impact is essential, so it really does help me. I want to go on a cycling tour, particularly Europe, the Basque country, but I still feel unsure if I can actually do this physically, as I am prone to injury more most people. I walked the Camino de Santiago some years ago and found my feet swelled up and were painful after one week. So I’m going to take it slowly, build up my fitness and test if I can cycle long distances for days on end, but I so want to do this! Does anyone ever write about how to care for yourself physically when doing a long cycle tour? Especially for those of us who do not have the benefit of a perfectly healthy body?

  16. Reg. 24/06/2011 at 10:53 am #

    This book would be handy to have. I thought of two ways of drying my gear out whilst on the move, one involving the use of a high flying kite behind me as I cycle, or maybe a large helium balloon. I don’t expect either to be featured in the book, shame, really!

  17. matt 24/06/2011 at 11:18 am #

    I’ve always wanted to give a tour a go, but can’t figure how to make the time and sort the logistics of it all.

  18. tmw1708 24/06/2011 at 11:22 am #

    When we were 14, me and two friends did a 5 day cycling tour of Holland for our DoE. We took all out own gear except bikes, which we hired from the local train station in Arnhem when we got there (have never forgotten how brilliantly simple this scheme is) and then worked our way round in a loop via Utrecht and back to Arnhem.

    A number of things stand out in my memory. First, biking in Holland is the best way of seeing the place and meeting people and beacuse we’d made the effort to use a bike to get around I felt people treated us really well and not just like tourists.

    Second, although it was short trip the preparation before the trip (we did quite a bit of training) and the experience itself forged life long friendships and skills- a road trip with a difference. Having total independene and being forced having to make collective decisions without advice was an educational experience.

    Finally, I can’t see 14 year olds being allowed to do what we did these days. As a father of two young boys I can understand why but am grateful for the experience I had and think its a bit of a shame.

    We are all now into cycling now (some of us rediscovering how brilliant it is after a lengthy break) and I am looking forward to when the boys are old enough so we can make a family road trip of our own.

  19. RSK 24/06/2011 at 11:27 am #

    I’d love to cycle from London to Berlin (and then maybe on to Leipzig for a festival I go to each year). I think I’d have to use my entire year’s allowance of holiday in one go though, and even that might be pushing it!

  20. Andrea 24/06/2011 at 11:32 am #

    If anyone is thinking of cycle touring I have only one bit of advice: JUST DO IT!

    You might remember the first time you contemplated commuting to work, worrying about traffic, rain, punctures and endless other problems you might encounter and then realising you should not have worried. Well, cycle touring is easier, better and much more fun than commuting to work.
    I had been putting it off for years until last year I ‘forced’ 10 days out of my committed busy life (we all have one of them) and cycled along the Rhine from Bonn to Basel.
    It was sunny and I was smiling, then it poured and I was smiling, I slept on stones and I was smiling… you get the picture!
    Go and think about the problems if and when you encounter them. In continental Europe especially it is sooo easy that any equipment you have is fine.

    Tour people, tour!!!

    • Nicki 24/06/2011 at 9:43 pm #

      Thanks for your inspiring post! I’m doing a miniature tour over 3 days later this week – part of the Coasts and Castles route – and have been feeling more worried about it: lack of training, am I too old to start this sort of thing, will it rain constantly etc. I’m now beginning to feel excited and even looking forward to it! This article appeared just in time!

  21. Alex P 24/06/2011 at 11:45 am #

    I’m semi-planning to do a long bike tour next year, all over Europe. My current plan is to cycle from France into Germany, and then head South until I hit Italy. And from there decide whether I want to turn right to Spain or left towards the Balkans. I should be able to take some time from work to do so, and use a combination of Couchsurfing and camping for accommodation.

  22. Jano Mendoza 24/06/2011 at 1:28 pm #

    I am a Mexican bike tourer who would love to promote bike touring in Latinamerica. After years of traveling I am writing a bike touring book too, but dedicated to the Latinamericans who have an enormous desire of going around the surroundings with their bikes, but do not know how to solve certain logical things that, I am sure, are included in your book. I would like to read it. Congratulations for your ebook.

  23. Bethan 24/06/2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Don’t over plan is my advice – just do it. A recently serviced bike and panniers are a must (you can use Ortliebs as washng ‘machines’ – just chuck in some water and soap and squish it around a lot) My favourite trip was San Francisco to Las Angeles down the Pacific Coast Highway – we had a solar powered stove that used twigs and charcoal that we found in fire pits… I have very fond memories of slap up meals at the end of each day in some amazing locations. We’re off to France next week with a couple of maps and a pocket dictionary – I can’t wait!

  24. mark 24/06/2011 at 3:52 pm #

    s with all things in India, everthing is possible and the help I’ve had from people in the street and from bike ‘mechanics’ who works on bikes with a hammer and a nail has been fantastic.

    I’ve fantasised about taking a mountain bike as these certainly fit the terrain and many of the roads. But such a dream machine would be very diffficult to maintain outside cities. So I guess ithas to be a local heavyweight bike best ridden slowly from first light till it gets too hot around 10.00

  25. mark 24/06/2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Part one – read before the part above!

    I’ve been advancing slowly towards touring staying with friends and youth hostels. I’ve only been taking what is absolutely esential as the idea of the escalating amount of stuff you need for touring terrifies me!

    I’m a big fan of south India and have spent a few months travelling by bus,train and – when i could find one – bike. Indian bikes are heavy, often in a sad state of reapir and have 28″ wheels. Borrowing a bike and riding it slowly to find someone to work on it to get it ridable is an adventure in itself. But as……

  26. John Benson 24/06/2011 at 5:11 pm #

    Just completed & blogged about a 10-month tour from Northern Alaska to Panama City http://johnbensontravels.com/cycling-the-americas

    Beats my previous longest tour by 9 months & 3 weeks. Would love to do it again, but it’s a huge commitment. Shorter ones in future, then, probably. However, it hasn’t put me off.

  27. Barry 25/06/2011 at 3:20 am #

    In my simple view the bike you should tour on is the one you have in the shed! Little cost, you know it and fits you! This may mean you have to tailor your tours to the type of bike you have.
    I am exceedingly fortunate to have a loving wife who lets me keep a Surly Long Hall Tucker in the shed! :-)))))

  28. Steven Gourlay 27/06/2011 at 7:41 pm #

    We get a lot of people touring the highlands on bicycles, if you do plan on coming up north and are fit enough Applecross is a must :-)

  29. Fabien Beardsly 28/06/2011 at 8:45 pm #

    I’ve just discovered what looks like a superb canal built under Napoleon between Brest and Nantes…and have immediately booked my ferry and holiday to take it in come the beginning of July. Now I just need to sort out a pannier system for my bike and find my poncho…I cannot begin to describe my excitement at the prospect of this trip!

  30. Friedel 29/06/2011 at 5:36 am #

    We’re just back from holiday in Italy. Wow, great comments! We’ve even picked up a few ideas for future tours from the dreams here. We’ll be touring northern England on a short tour at the end of July, and lots of long-weekends in Holland coming up… next year we’re hoping for either the Great Divide or Iceland!

    • Fin 04/07/2011 at 9:48 pm #

      I broke my leg in 2008 so bad it got infected and I nearly had in amputated. I had never ridden more than 20 miles before but I was decided to buy a bike and rode from northern Alaska to the Panama Canal with my buddy Alex. We made a 13 part film for deepeei film productions called Going South Cycling the americas. It was an amazing experience. I rode on a Thorn Sherpa touring bike and used ortlieb front and back panniers. We carried the HD Video camera and tripod in a mountain hardware bag. No problems – 7 months – was amazing. http://www.going-south.tv

      I am now back in London and got my latest fix cycling from Lands end to John o groats in six days last week
      rubber side down

      Fin

      • jon 05/07/2011 at 8:58 pm #

        For true inspiration see the ultimate touring blog site for cyclists
        http:www.crazyguyonabike.com

    • MiddleAgeCyclist 12/07/2011 at 4:45 pm #

      Friedel

      When in July and where in nothern England? Would be fun to meet if possible.

      Cheers

  31. Andreas 06/07/2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Hey guys – We’ve picked two winners and Friedel will shortly be sending over copies of the eBook – Mike (Commenter number 11) and PKR (Commenter 15). You’ll be receiving emails shortly. If you didn’t win then I strongly recommend the eBook from here:
    http://travellingtwo.com/shop/ebooks/biketouringguide

    Thanks all for posting your cycling touring dreams – hope plenty of them come true!

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