Based on the website WWW.CPTIPS.COM

This blog is based on the scientific content in the website Cycling Performance Tips. Idea about a new topic --forward it to the webmaster for CPTIPS.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TRAVEL - can I do a trip on my own?

Taking that first trip with a commercial company is a nice way to ease into traveling. If you do it yourself there are a myriad of details to be taken care of  -  pulling together all the equipment, reservations, and maps for a self supported venture. With a commercial trip you are provided with a basic equipment list plus other reminders about details. The rooms reservations are taken care of. and you always have someone to answer questions as you work through trip prep.

And for those who aren't quite ready to begin at square one there are some options.

Companies such as Nichols Expeditions provide a self guided option for a trip to areas they know from their own tours. They will make your arrangements for lodging, baggage transfer, and provide maps of the area including suggested routes. They give you a phone number if you need local help - and rental bike options for the area. It is essentially a guided trip without the guides. You save a few dollars, but also get to pick the group you invite, the type of accommodations you would like, and the timing of the trip. I worked with them to set up a trip this Fall in Italy and it was easy.

And there are companies that will arrange just  baggage transfers for you. In that case you will have complete control. Online tools such as Google maps and websites like Trip Adviser make it a lot easier to plan a trip than it was even 10 years ago. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

TRAVEL - picking a tour company

Service and cost are the big items. Just as with lodging, there are many choices. The high end companies (Backroads is an example) stay at the best places, eat at better restaurants, and will run a trip with only 4 to
6 people signed up (BTW if you are going with a commercial company, be sure they will guarantee the trip is a "go" before you buy tickets).

Then there is the middle, companies that provide great tours, good food, and comfortable lodging at a reasonable price. Examples of companies I have personally traveled with are Experience Plus
( , Easy Rider ( , and Nichols
Expeditions (

But in my book the real finds are the smaller companies just getting started and focused on a specific area. My son and his wife (a guide) decided to start a travel company focused on central Europe and The Czech Republic (Pathways Through Europe  I talked them into doing a bike tour and it was one of the best trips I have ever taken. Not only did they cover the small things (a beer after the ride was included while most companies charge separately for alcohol) but we stayed in local lodging,
ate local foods, and got to experience first hand the culture of The Czech Republic. In addition, they gave it the real personal touch with a day filled with non biking opportunities. Best of all, the price was better than the "Big Boys" who offer tours in the same area.

So keep an open mind as you look at the second (or third) page of a Google search.

More tomorrow - and more details at

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

TRAVEL - Where do I start?

You've already taken the first step  - you are reading this blog, thinking about biking somewhere new. And not just new roads from home, but traveling there. You may have a general idea - a place you've heard or read about. I find that many of my trip ideas come from people I have ridden with, or an interesting ride I find online while researching something else.  When you meet new riders, you generally get to talking about bike gear or food (where to stop for a snack or on the bike snacks) but a third common discussion is about places they (or their friends) have ridden.

So once you have a general idea, I have found Google a nice place to begin to firm up a plan. You not only can look at common routes on trips offered by commercial companies (usually bike friendly/low traffic volume if they are using them for their tours) but also get a sense of the time of year that is best for that area. If they run tours over several months, I will generally pick the middle of the season as statistically the best time. Too early and it can be wet/cold; too late and you have the issue of too hot if it is in the south.

The next decision is whether this is going to be self supported (you and a few friends) or are you going to go with a commercial company. If this is your first time, and you haven't been able to talk anyone else into signing on, a commercial company may make sense. It will get you to actually commit, I can guarantee you will  meet really interesting people (some of whom will become life long friends), and you won't have to worry about mechanical support if you have a breakdown.

More tomorrow - and more details at

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Performance, training, and now traveling

When I first started this blog, I wanted to mirror the focus on the performance and training of the Cycling Performance Tips website.  But another passion of mine that has grown over the years is cycling around the US (initially) and then overseas.  Traveling on a bike is a great way to see places I have always read about with a depth that is missed while riding in or driving a car, while at the same time covering more ground than on a walking trip.  I have had many experiences of taking a break or fixing a flat where someone will walk over and start up a conversation. I remember one time in a small Italian hill town where a couple of fellows walked over and started the conversation asking about my bike and then we moved on to their trips to the US. Or a time in France when I was taking a break and an elderly man walked over and we communicated only with gestures and a map as a way to discuss where I had come from/and was going. That never would happen on a bus tour or car trip.

Now it is Spring and time to think about new places to ride this year. As I work through the logistics - looking at places that are bike friendly, timing and other aspects of planning, and ultimately traveling it seemed a nice series of good short subjects for my blog (with more detail on wwwcptips).

To keep things clean - training/performance versus traveling - I will add a key word (TRAVEL versus PERFORMANCE) to each title to make it easier for readers. We'll see how this goes.

I am still committed to getting out the facts on training and performance, so for those of you interested in that focus, please keep an occasional eye on the blog and send me questions you might have.