Guided or self-guided cycle tours?Posted on March 23, 2014
Guided or self-guided cycle tours: which route to take?
There are benefits to both styles of trip and it’s not always the case that self-guided suits certain types of people and guided suits others. It’s often down to your circumstances and what you want from that particular holiday – so here’s the lowdown on what to consider.
You can’t beat the local knowledge a bike guide invariably possesses. They can take you to places you just might not otherwise find and will know all the best restaurants and cultural spots along the way.
However, some people like discovering things at their own pace and don’t like the idea of having their holiday dished up to them so easily. In this case, you might like the freedom of a self-guided trip. After all, there’s nothing like the feeling that you’ve ‘discovered’ that perfect little family-run Italian trattoria on your own, is there?
Perhaps if you’re heading off on a family holiday, having an expert guide on hand may take the stress out of the trip whereas if you’re planning a trip for just you and your partner then discovering the route yourselves may appeal more.
Finding your way
One of the big advantages of a guided ride is having the navigation all taken care of. Just turn up, start pedalling and take a left or right when instructed. Perfect if you just fancy concentrating on the scenery and relaxation or if you’re not exactly known for your map reading skills.
If you’re on a self-guided cycle tour the route finding is naturally all up to you. You will be provided with detailed route notes and maps as well as a helpline in case you get stuck. Some might relish the challenge, while others may baulk at the idea – it’s all a case of what you’re comfortable with.
Matters of pace
When you’re riding in a group with a guide, you can only go as fast as the slowest rider. So if you’re the sort of person who like to cover ground fast you’ll have to make sure you choose a route matching your skill level. Otherwise you might find yourself waiting at the top of any incline while the rest of the group catches up.
If you’re more relaxed about the pace of things then there’s less to worry about and the pace of a guided tour won’t bother you. You might even like the idea of more regular stops for the party to re-group.
If you’re travelling alone, then guided tours are a popular option. You’ll have a ready-made group of travelling companions and, of course, there’s also the security of riding in a group.
Group guided rides are sociable by their very nature and a great way of meeting like-minded people. And you don’t have to be travelling solo to appreciate this. This is a real advantage of guided tours – there will always be something to talk about at the end of a day’s ride with stories and experiences to share, often over a glass or two or a group meal.
The choice is yours
Ultimately, the choice is yours, and whichever route you go down, you’ll be in for a great holiday. If you’re thinking of a guided tour you’ll have to be happy sharing the pace with other travellers. Self-guided means you need to be happy with the route finding and need maybe a little more sense of adventure. Whatever you choose, enjoy the ride!