Winter in Canada can really start to drag on and if you are itching to get outside to ride, your best bet may be to just plan a trip. While the temptation may be there to hop on the flight to somewhere warm, you may not know exactly where to start. Work, school or family obligations make it difficult just to leave everything to ride your bike. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You just need to commit to making it happen. If you are craving a cycling getaway, here are the eight steps to making it a reality:
1) Pick a destination
You can fly virtually anywhere in the world over the Canadian winter or spring and go for a bike ride but you probably aren’t looking for somewhere blasted by winter weather where fat biking would be your best option. That narrows down the list but the destinations are endless from Southern Europe, warmer parts of North America, most parts of the southern hemisphere, and tropical destinations with endless beaches and palms trees. Pick a destination with the terrain, riding potential, travel practicality, climate and culture that suits your travel desires.
If you want to ride 1,000-km in a week you should plan your trip a little differently than if you hope to knock off a 25-hour riding week with other activities mixed in. If you are travelling with someone consider what other activities they will enjoy while you knock out three or four-hour rides. Consider what activities in the surrounding area might be interesting to have easy access to and how far you want to travel from the airport before settling down for your cycling getaway.
3) Nail down your travel plans
Find an affordable and convenient flight to your destination. Or if you’ve chosen somewhere a little closer to where you live, make sure your bike rack is in good shape and your vehicle is tuned up before a long road trip. Remember to look at airline bike fees before booking the cheapest flight. Also, consider how many times you’ll have to transfer and if there are lengthy layovers which will just delay your training camp from getting underway.
Finding accommodations that suit your needs is really important. You’ll have to decide whether you want to be able to prepare your own meals and if there is a storage area for your bike. Consider how centrally located you want to be. Being out in the country will mean you’re closer to the scenic rural roads but have more difficulty assessing other things if you don’t have access to a vehicle. In the centre of town, it will take a bit more time to get out but you’ll have easier access to restaurants and other activities. Also consider how many different routes you’ll have access to from any given location.
5) Map out routes
Once you have your travel and accommodations booked, start familiarizing yourself with the roads in the area. A quick Google search should direct you to other people who have ridden in the area. Then head to Strava’s route builder to see a heat map of the area and start plotting out some rides. You won’t necessarily get to all the routes but you’ll be happy to have options once you arrive at your destination.
6) Plan logistics
Before you arrive, figure out where the closest grocery store is to where you are staying. Figure out how you’ll get from the airport to your logding. Scout out a local bike shop you can stop in at if you have any bike troubles. If you are renting, arrange the rental in advance and double check a couple days before you travel that everything is still in order.
7) Find people to ride with
It’s decidedly easier to get out and discover a new place with someone who is familiar with the area. Find a local group that you could ride with early on in your trip to familiarize yourself with the routes the locals enjoy. Even if you are travelling with other people, it can be nice to do a first ride with a local group.
8) Check your bike and pack your bags
Before your trip make sure your bike is in good working order. It’s likely been neglected since your last outdoor ride. This means you will likely need to swap out last seasons tires, put on a new chain and potentially even re-do cabling. Check over every part of your bike before travelling with it and don’t put any upkeep or repairs off for after the trip.