Planning a Bicycle Tour

By Michael Riscica / December 25, 2015

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Click Here to Visit The Table of Contents
Click Here to Visit Previous Page: Frequently Asked Questions About The 2016 Bicycle Tour

Click Here to Visit The Next Page: Bicycle Journal – The Triple Tiered Approach

In my frequently asked questions post, I started talking about planning, and I just decided that maybe I should write a separate blogpost about planning a bicycle tour.

In love couple using a tablet computer

Bicycle Journals Are Addictive

I have spent thousands of hours sitting on the internet and reading about other people’s bicycle tris. I know I have spent wayyyy more hours reading about bike touring then miles I have actually ridden on bike tours.  I become (and still am) addicted to it. I read this stuff because you learn a lot, about a lot of things. I even read bike journals cover-to-cover that are just filled with boring facts and data that sound like this:

I woke up at 6:37am which is weird cause I usually wake up at 7am. I had black coffee and eggs and potatoes with a little bit of ketchup at the diner in by the park. The potatoes were gross so I didn’t eat them. I pooped at the diner before I left.  I rode 14 miles at an average pace of 8 mph and then stopped to pee at 11am at a gas station and then rode 24 more miles with an average pace of 11 mph. The temperature was 75 degrees and the sky was partly cloudy. By the end of the day I rode a total of 54.3 miles at an average pace of 9.4 mph. oh yeah I had a burger with fries for dinner at the bar. It was delicious. Good night.

I actually love reading these boring bike journals. As much as I shouldn’t admit it, I am a huge data nerd. I love seeing where and how people hop across the country. What I’m always looking for is how long the whole trip took, how far they rode, and what towns they stopped at. And I shouldn’t admit this, but I pay attention to the boring data and the numbers.

 Journey by bikeVector Illustration

Planning the Bicycle Tour

I like planning for a bike tour.

Before I took my first cross-country bike tour, I planned a great deal. I had a window of time that I needed to do this trip in, and a ticket to fly to Berlin, so I could go work on an architecture competition with my school. I basically became obsessed with the data, while wondering the whole time if I could actually pull off this bike tour in the time that I had. But I did. And planning was really helpful for me.

Planning a bike tour is always a ton of fun—especially for a long one.  It’s almost as much fun as taking the actual bike tour. It’s fun to think about what kind of tent will you use, where will you’ll ride, or what kind of sleeping bag would be best for the trip.

I love gear. I love bike gear, camping gear, technology gear, photography gear and all types of gear. When I  start planning a bike tour, I don’t know about everyone else but I go nuts trying to figure out what kind of gear and setup I will be using for the trip.

Planning a bike tour is a ton of fun..

Brainstorming Meeting Communication Teamwork Concept

Brainstorming Meeting Communication Teamwork Concept

Screw Planning

Planning is great, but one of the biggest lessons that I’ve repeatedly learned over and over and over again from bike touring is:

Once the tour starts, you need to chill out with all of your planning.

While on the road to be somewhere, making commitments to do something or meet an obligation to someone else is the very best way to ruin a bike tour, especially a long one. It changes the tour and can immediately suck the fun, life or magic right out of traveling by bicycle.

One of my favorite days on Team Northern Tier was when we were sitting in Sandpoint, Idaho, eating breakfast overlooking the beautiful lake there. We were talking about how we needed to ride about 50 miles that day, and somebody said, “I would be content to just sit right here in this café all day long.”

So we did.  We literally sat in the same spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The whole day just became one, really long, 3-course meal.

I have learned the best times on a bike tour is fueled when there is flexibility in the schedule to change plans, the route your on or whatever you were doing because something better came along.

Client tells the manager about his problems. funny cartoon characters in business situations

…..Oh Everyone Else

Bicycle touring makes a lot of people really uneasy. Especially family members, who don’t exercise and havent been on a bicycle in 50 years.

People get annoyed because they always want to know what your plan is and I am not good at playing this game.  They want the details, the itinerary, the agenda, or the schedule of your bike tour. It’s all a game.

When I was 23 years old, I got into a battle with a family member, who would not let me ride my bicycle 100 miles down to the Jersey Shore. They wanted to know exactly what road I was riding and at what time.

I could not provide or produce that information, because I just didn’t know. My plan was to just ride south and find some good roads to ride on.

The family member won that battle, and I never took that bike ride to the Jersey Shore. And I admit I’m still a little bitter about it.

A few years later, that same person raised hell with me when I was getting ready to leave for my first cross- country trip. When they made their information request, which I didn’t have, they screamed and cried: “You’re going to get killed, and I’m not driving to pick you up in the middle of the country when your bike falls apart.”

I was never killed, and my bike fell apart every single day. But I fixed it.

The big lesson I learned is that this family member loves me. And in their world,  riding a bicycle for 100 miles or across the country makes absolutely no sense, and it’s absurd. I should have complied with their data requests by making up a fake itinerary, which had absolutely no purpose other than calming down this bossy family member.  That would have made everyones lives a lot easier.

Journey by bikeVector Illustration

Conclusion about planning.

To summarize this blogpost:

  1. Have fun planning your bike tour. Focus on setting yourself up for success, rather then making hard plans
  2. Stop planning once the tour starts. Flexibility and freedom with your time or plans, is allows for lots of cool stuff to happen.
  3. Play the game with family your members and provide data (even if it’s BS), so they can sleep better at night.

Click Here to Visit The Table of Contents
Click Here to Visit Previous Page: Frequently Asked Questions About The 2016 Bicycle Tour

Click Here to Visit The Next Page: Bicycle Journal – The Triple Tiered Approach


About the author

Michael Riscica

Hey, I’m Michael Riscica and I live in Portland, Oregon with my Labrador Retriever. When I’m off the bike, I make my living as a Licensed Architect and also write a architecture blog at

I took my first bike tour in 2003 when I rode from Boston to New York City, and at that time I learned about cycling across America. My life was forever changed. I have successfully ridden and blogged about Coast2Coast bike rides during the summers of 2005, 2007and now 2016.

Thanks for following along. I would love to connect with you on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Linked In! Also check out my new project Young Architect Gear, designing architecturally themed gifts and products.

Shayna goldstein - August 20, 2016

This perfectly describes what we’re dealing with right now. We start our European bike tour in 8 days and I’ve planned where we start and stop but nothing in between. Our families don’t understand that I don’t have our route or “lodging” booked. ive tried to calm their nerves but alas getting a lot of flak from the family. I feel that adventures are started not planned. Thanks for this entry. Made me feel better.

    Michael Riscica - August 20, 2016

    The less plans you have, the better of trip you’ll have.
    Have a great tour!!!

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