The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

by Leigh Cove
Algonquin College Sport Business Management Intern

Once again winter has settled in, and even though it’s just started people are already counting the days until spring. A lucky few will get to escape and fly somewhere not coated in ice and snow, while the rest only get to daydream. If you are planning a vacation this winter and are looking for a unique experience growing in popularity, consider a cycling holiday.

Cycling holidays or tours offer the opportunity to see idyllic scenery of the country of your choosing and stay active at the same time. Typically cycling vacations are structured so individuals spend the majority of the day on their bicycle and stop at destinations for dinner, some local culture, and well-deserved rest. Popular destinations for cycling holidays are: France, Italy, Spain and Britain.

Cycling tour options are not exclusive to Europe, and can be categorized based on the type of experience you’re looking to have. For example trail versus road biking, seaside views, or local food and wine excursions.

Some things to keep in mind if considering a cycling tour for a winter getaway are:

How difficult will the tour be? 

Many tour companies tend to have a grading system to indicate the level of physical demand one can expect during the rides. Read over tour details so you can have an idea of how many hours a day will be spent on the bike and number of rest periods. Depending on your fitness levels, some pre-trip training would be advisable and a brush up on proper cycling technique to avoid potential strains and injury.

  • Take a spinning class to improve cardio capacity.
  • Strength training can be beneficial for endurance.
  • Develop proper cycling posture.
  • Learn how to properly descend hills.

Do you know basic bicycle maintenance? 

While some cycling tours have an experienced cycling guide and mechanic accompanying riders, it may be wise to learn the basics of bicycle maintenance and care. Essentials to know would be adjusting seat height, handlebar adjustments, and pedal positioning. Knowing how to make these changes can ensure your bicycle is properly fitted. Having a properly fitted bike will minimize discomfort and joint strains from sustained cycling periods.

No matter the type of cycling and skill level of the tour that you choose for a winter escape, preparation will be the best help with ensuring the ride is a safe and enjoyable experience.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Bini R, Hume P, Croft J. Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height on Knee Injury Risk and Cycling Performance. Sports Medicine. June 2011;41(6):463-476. 
2. Lamont M. Reinventing the Wheel: A Definitional Discussion of Bicycle Tourism. Journal Of Sport & Tourism. February 2009;14(1):5-23. 
3. Louis J, Hausswirth C, Easthope C, Brisswalter J. Strength training improves cycling efficiency in master endurance athletes. European Journal Of Applied Physiology. January 15, 2012;112(2):631-640. 
 4. Medical Assistance The Five Most Common Cycling Injuries. Bicycling Australia. January 2013;(179):108-112. 
5. Oja P, Titze S, Kohlberger T, et al. Health benefits of cycling: a systematic review. Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine & Science In Sports. August 2011;21(4):496-509. 
6. Thomas S. HOW-TO: DESCEND WITH CONVICTION. Road Bike Action. April 2013;7(4):52-58.