If you’re hoping to participate in a bike tour but wondering if you’re fit enough, we’re here to help.
It can be a little intimidating, signing up for rides that are longer or have more elevation than anything you’ve done in the past—but there’s rarely anything to worry about.
No, you don’t need a training plan to get ready for a bike tour
Admittedly, the fitter you are, your bike tour will likely be more enjoyable. If every hill feels like a significant challenge, then you may not be able to enjoy the spectacular views as much as you would if you were comfortable climbing.
But while we’re big fans of consistent training on and off the bike to maximize your fun on a bike tour, you don’t need to treat it like you’re preparing for the Tour de France. Riding three or more times per week is ideal and should be augmented with other forms of exercise, whether walking, rowing, running, or strength training.
No, you don’t need to have done the total distance on the itinerary
Remember: First-time marathoners haven’t run 26.2 miles, but they still get to the finish line. So, if you’re concerned that the rides will be longer than you’ve ever done, think like a runner. Most marathoners will run around 18 miles before race day—about two-thirds of the distance.
Try a mini-training camp over a weekend where you do a couple of rides that are about two-thirds the distance of the rides on the tour. If that’s doable, you’ll be fine! (Check out any inGamba tour for the day-to-day distance and elevation breakdown.)
We’ve also found that while the distances might feel intimidating when you see them on the map, you’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of when you’re surrounded by bike-loving people who are there to help you reach your destination. And without having to stress about work, family or other ‘life’ stuff, you’re free to focus on just pedaling. You’re so much stronger than you know!
Yes, you should check elevation profiles
If you live in a flat area and don’t crave long climbs, check the elevation profile of the trips you’re hoping to take before committing and compare it to your hilliest ride profiles to give yourself a sense of what you’re in for. Some people won’t find this intimidating—and if you love a challenge, don’t worry about it!
You can often find a trip in a similar spot with less climbing but all the same perks: Compare our Chianti Classico trip to the Grand Tour Collection — Italy trip. Both take place on the best roads in Italy, but the Chianti trip only climbs 22,000 feet over the course of the trip compared to the nearly 33,000 feet that the Giro route covers in the same timeframe.
Don’t let those high numbers scare you, though: You’re not climbing Everest in a day, you’re riding over rolling hills and the occasional mountain pass, but most climbs are gradual—plus, there are plenty of chances to stop and catch your breath along the way! No one is timing how fast you can climb.
Yes, it helps if you’re comfortable riding in a group
While you can pedal at your own leisurely pace on a tour if that’s really what you want to do, the ability to ride in a group makes the riding easier (thanks to the effect of drafting) and more fun (since you’ll be able to chat with fellow cyclists).
If you ride a lot solo but pedaling in a pace line is a bit terrifying, look for a local cycling club that offers beginner-friendly group rides to help you get used to riding with people. It doesn’t take much practice to get comfortable sitting on someone’s wheel, but it’s better to do this before you’re on the bike tour rather than figuring it out while also dealing with big days on the bike in a new place.
However, if you don’t have time to ride with other people, or you don’t have a local cycling club where you live, don’t be discouraged: Because we have such a high guide-to-rider ratio, you’ll have plenty of help getting used to drafting during a trip. There are also one to two follow vehicles on the road with every group, so no matter what your pace is, there’s someone there to help you out!
No, you don’t need to ride 10+ hours per week to do a bike tour
You’ll likely be riding significantly more hours than you’re used to on a bike tour. Still, suppose you train consistently (riding 3+ days per week, doing general fitness activities like walking and strength training regularly). In that case, you’ll likely handle extensive hours on the bike without any issues.
Remember, on an inGamba bike tour, you don’t have to worry about putting in a long day at the office before your ride or any daily life details: The route, the food, the bike cleaning, the post-ride massage, your room at the hotel… the rest of your life is taken care of, and all you have to worry about is pedaling.
Yes, you have plenty of support in case you’re struggling
If you’re worried about being left behind as the group pedals away from you, don’t panic. inGamba has the highest number of guides to participants out of any touring company—a minimum of three guests to one staff member—as well as on-road vehicle support in case you need a bottle refilled or a flat fixed.
The groups often separate on climbs and regroup at the tops, and in more extensive group tours, the ride breaks down into smaller groups to account for differences in speed.
If you’re unsure if you’re fit enough for a tour, pop into our chat on the homepage or send us a note via our Contact form, and we’ll help you choose the right trip for your current fitness level.