For bicycle touring you can purchase a tour from a travel company or create your own routes. There is another option, taking an organized bike tour.
What we mean by an organized bike tour is when an organization plans a long distance ride of usually 5 to 7 days across a region. Some of these rides have gained a large following with people returning year after year. For example RAGBAI in Iowa claims to be the longest, oldest and largest of them all with cyclists returning year after year. For some rides the routes remains the same, for others it changes every year.
For you it is a great way to visit a new region and have a ready made tour and there are plenty to choose from here is an example some in the U.S. and Canada:
SAGBRAW which stands for Schramms Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Wisconsin claims to be the oldest annual ride in that state. Up to 1,000 cyclists are expected in late July or early August. The ride I joined departed from near Madison and headed north is this picturesque state almost to Green Bay for six days of riding. The route changes every year and there were children, veteran cyclists, recumbent cyclists, tandem cyclists and people from out of state like myself. At towns along the way they donate kids bicycle helmets and help fit them properly.
In Ontario, Canada there is the annual bicycle tour from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border along the Waterfront Trail on the shores of Lake Ontario. This ride has been going for a few years now and about 200-250 cyclists take part every July.
Although each is unique, organized bike tours generally provide:
- Organized route including maps
- Arrangements for accommodation
- Transportation of your luggage
- Local community involvement in the form of meal packages with money going to local charities
- Sag wagons (to help if encounter difficulties along during the ride)
- Opportunity to talk about bicycle touring with like minded cyclists
- Generally a very attractive registration fee
- Sometimes they include a souvenir such as a cycling jersey or water bottle
Some cyclists do not like the large crowds and the need to keep to the schedule. However if you are from another part of the country it can provide a easy bicycle touring option. You may even choose to add to few days pre or post tour on some additional cycling of your own.
While you do require a bicycle helmet and bike of course there are few requirements with regard to what type of clothing and shoes you wear but you will find proper cycling clothes much more comfortable..
An organized bike tour is a great way to get introduced into bicycle touring.