TIPS FOR TAKING ON YOUR FIRST CYCLING TOUR OF AUSTRALIA
Taking a long-distance tour of Australia is an affordable and challenging way to see the country. Cycling tours combined with camping are an increasingly popular way to see what this country has to offer. Are you ready to strap on?
Here are some tips to help you get out of the comforts of home and onto your saddle.
FIX A START DATE
Fixing a start date is often the hardest part of getting started on a cycling tour. You’ll have to figure out when and how long suits your touring party. Inexperienced cyclists should plan a shorter trip in the warmer months while trying to avoid the hottest times of the year. Once you all have agreed on a start date, planning will flow on from that. Make sure you set regular meeting times from the beginning.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT GEAR
If you don’t have a good touring bike, now is the time to get one. Your bike may vary greatly on the terrain. First-time cyclists are better off sticking to sealed roads. The Great Ocean Road is an excellent choice for many first-time cyclists. There are plenty of places with facilities to camp along the way. As for camping, a brand name free standing dome tent is the best way to go. They are easy to set up, pack away and carry with you. You’ll do well to carry a small portable stove, a sleeping bag and make sure you have a sleeping mat. It isn’t much fun sleeping on the hard ground after a day on your bike.
GET COMFORTABLE WITH CAMPING
Cycle touring and camping go hand in hand. That’s why I recommend choosing a route with options that has camping sites with facilities on your first go. You can only carry a limited amount of gear on your cycle and you will want a shower. You’ll find plenty of tips to camping and getting the most out of a portable stove in the guides found in the camping and cooking sections of OnDECK. There are plenty of simple recipes you can make that taste great even with a single pot and a small camping stove. If you choose a route with more facilities along the way, you’ll even be able to get yourself a well-earned fish and chips or a hamburger. Ease yourself into camping and cycling and put yourself into a position where you can get help if you need it.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT ROUTE
In Australia, there are plenty of long-distance routes to choose from with plenty of spectacular views. As I already mentioned, I highly recommend the Great Ocean Road or another coastal route. Heading straight to the outback is a huge challenge for anyone on their first bike tour. The best thing about Australia is the ease that it is to navigate. Generally speaking, our roads are easy to navigate and unless you head to the outback, you will have quality roads to cycle on. Nevertheless, a handheld GPS device will always come in handy. You can’t always rely on network coverage and the use of your smartphone.
SET YOUR GOALS
A cycling tour isn’t a race. There is no prize for getting to your final destination early. Half the fun of a cycling tour with friends is the down time each day. That means you will have to have enough time off the cycle. 6 hours a day cycling is a good start. It is worth finding out how much ground you can cover in that time with some training near home. Out on the road, days will be different depending on where you will stay and the lay of the land. The Great Ocean Road is a perfect example of where you will be facing different terrain. Going down an incline is a great way to end the day. Many cycle tourers average around 60-80km per day but you need to settle on a distance that suits your touring party. Having a day off to enjoy places along the way is a great idea.
CREATE A BUDGET
Cycling tours can be very low cost if you are prepared to grind it. I recommend a happy medium of a lean food budget while camping at free and low-cost camping sites along the way. It is always a good idea to know where you can get a cheap room in a hostel, hotel or motel every couple of days. You might want to take the break and get the rest a bed with 4 legs offers once a week. Your budget should consist of everything you need to go, your ongoing expenses and some extra just in case for bike repairs and emergencies. Finally, don’t forget to think about travel insurance. It’s available even when you are travelling around Australia as an Australian.
IT’S ALL GO
What happens if my bike breaks or gets stolen? What about the dangers of the road? Is it too dangerous? These are all questions you are going to be asked by colleagues and family members. Face your fears and stick to your plan of action.
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