Choose Your Tour

One of the things that makes me the Queen of the Faint of Heart is my fear of cycling where there’s traffic.

My first three tours, the Golden Triangle in the Canadian Rockies, a “seat of the pants” tour in Australia, and the Icefields Parkway in the Canadian Rockies, taught me how great my fear is.  Brent is able to be quite zen about the whole thing and trusts that he won’t be hit.  I, on the other hand, are the opposite of zen about it.

When we did the Golden Triangle, there were portions of the highway where the shoulder was in such horrible condition that you had no choice but to ride out in the highway lane with the cars whizzing by, extremely impatiently.  One of the riders from our group was actually run off the road by a large truck and ended up in the hospital overnight.  He was back riding the next day.  That guy is made of sterner stuff than me!

When we did Australia, Brent had done some research and discovered that cycling is popular in Australia, and they even promote Tasmania as a cycle touring destination.  I would have to say that’s extreme wishful thinking on the part of Australia.  Tasmania’s highways are extremely narrow, have almost no shoulder at all, and beyond the shoulder is often a solid cliff (no escape route), or an abrupt drop-off with sharp rocks waiting to rip you to shreds if you go off the shoulder.  Add to that the steady stream of logging trucks whizzing by, and my poor faint heart almost didn’t survive.

You’re going to start thinking I’m a sucker for going back out to do another tour in the Canadian Rockies when I did the Icefields Parkway, and you’d probably be right.  Some lessons need to be learned more than once.

After firmly swearing completely off of road riding, Brent told me about a tour in Europe called the Orient Express (a cycle trail built on what used to be the train route called Orient Express).  Well, that sounded pretty good to me.  We decided to take six months off of work to go ride this fabled Orient Express.  Trouble is… it doesn’t exist (well, it kind of does in the form of the Danube Cycle  Trail).  We did spend six months touring in Europe, though, honing my cycle touring preferences, and developing my true love of cycle touring… on the right kind of route.

So that brings me around, finally, to the title of this entry: choosing a tour.  Are you going to start with a weeks-long tour out-of-country?   Maybe you will, but I’d suggest going a little easier on yourself.  My posts this month will focus on choosing a tour: starting small and some tried-and-true cycle tours in Europe.  A little bit later on I'll talk about some less-tried and less-true cycle tours, and completely winging it.

A few things to consider when making your selection:

  • Specifications of your intended tour (length and difficulty);
  • The distance that you can reasonably cover in a day, loaded with gear (see Taming My Inner Lance Armstrong for my personal discoveries in this regard); 
  • Plan B and Plan C: what will you do if something unforeseen causes you to abort this tour (for medical reasons, weather reasons, safety reasons, whatever?).

There’s more, of course, which I’ll get into… later.

Selecting a Tour


  1. I enjoy these blog entries of yours so much! They're interesting, informational, and entertaining. Great stuff. In my next life I'll come back as a cycle tourer thanks to you. :)

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