Preparing for a Bicycle Adventure: 5 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Athlete

First things first—congratulations on your decision to go forward and embrace one of the most rewarding challenges you’ll ever undertake. From personal experience, I can tell you that a bicycle adventure will change you for the better, both physically and mentally. And I applaud your decision to prepare yourself for the big event.

Whether you’re embarking on an epic adventure like the Empire Builder, a 700-mile trek from Montana to Seattle, or a flat 4-day “Rails to Trails” exploration of the Couer d’Alenes, a little preparation goes a long way toward enjoying your travels.

Of course, physical preparation isn’t just helpful for bike tours, it can have a positive impact on many aspects of your life.

Our president and resident fitness expert, Todd Starnes, who was a sports scientist before joining Bicycle Adventures, has some great words of wisdom for the 50+ athlete—

Getting old just plain sucks; our choice is either to grow or decay.

For me? I’ll take growth every time, and if you’ve read this far, then I think you will too! Your next bike adventure can give you the push towards your own personal and physical growth.

It doesn’t matter whether you choose to complete Oregon’s Crater Lake (the best bike ride in North America, according to Bicycling Magazine) or opt for a more cultural two-wheeled experience in Mexico, just enjoy the ride with smiles and sun!

I think it’s important to state up front that physical fitness doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. So many of the activities that contribute to a healthy body can be done right in the privacy of your home, like strength and resistance training, stretching, and even cardio.

The work you do toward preparing your body pays benefits in all sorts of unexpected ways, whether you’re training for a bike tour with the family or just want less stiffness and more stamina when you’re gardening, doing housework, or playing with your grandkids at the park.

 

So why should we exercise?

Preparing for a Bicycle Adventure: Fitness Tips for the 50+ Athlete

Physical exercise can slow the effects of aging and prevent muscle atrophy and bone loss, too—a real concern for 50+ women. I think it also gives you more physical confidence to try new things…and I love what it does for my energy level.

If you’re ready to get started, here are five tips to help 50+ athletes prepare for a bike tour and some advice on how to ramp up to the next level for those who are steady 30-miler cyclists.

 

Let’s Begin With Strength Training

Preparing for a Bicycle Adventure: Fitness Tips for the 50+ Athlete

Strength training sounds complicated and even a bit intimidating, especially if you’re out of practice. But it really comes down to these five simple motions:

  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Planking
  • Sitting
  • Bending

You’ll notice “lifting weights” isn’t mentioned—because it really isn’t necessary! Although if you want to join a gym and work with machines and free weights, that’s always an option. I’m going to give you exercises you can do at home, with no complicated machines, and a far lower risk of injury.

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests activities to strengthen each of the six main muscle groups: Chest, shoulders, arms, abdomen, back, and legs. Strength training will come in handy on a bike adventure in so many ways—supporting your back, chest, arms, and posture during the ride itself and giving you the muscles you need to pedal up hills (like the cliffs and canyons in our Southern Utah National Parks tour).

Pushing
The classic “push” exercise is the push-up, which strengthens your arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, and back—it’s an all-purpose exercise powerhouse. If you aren’t strong enough to do a classic military version, you can try this four-step plan</a< to get you there (or you can just stick with the modified version that works best for you).

Pulling
A good strength routine balances pushing and pulling. You don’t need a pull-up bar to build your pulling muscles, but a set of lightweight dumbbells is helpful. I like the alternating dumbbell row because you can really feel results with just a few reps. (Don’t own dumbbells? Substitute cans of soup or milk jugs.)

Planking
Planking is great for strengthening your core, which underpins pretty much everything you do. If you’re a beginner at planking, you can learn good technique and modifications with this video, plus variations for more advanced moves.

Sitting
No, this isn’t a “gotcha,” there really are sitting-type exercises to help you build strength. I’m talking about squats and lunges, which are great for developing your abs, legs, and back. Even if you have knee problems, you can do these exercises at home.

Bending
I don’t have to tell you how important it is to strengthen your lower back and core—doing laundry, tying your shoes…we’re bending all day long. Some great home bending exercises are back extensions and bicycles.

 

Build Your Endurance With Cardio and Feel the Benefits

Preparing for a Bicycle Adventure: Fitness Tips for the 50+ Athlete

The CDC recommends that healthy older adults get at least two-and-a-half hours (150 minutes) of moderate aerobic activity (like brisk walking) every week, or 75 minutes of high-intensity (running, jogging, cycling) activity. The heart benefits of aerobic activity are not in dispute.

But the added benefits of increased endurance will help you on your bicycle tour, so you can fully enjoy the gently rolling hills of the San Juan Islands.

Simple things to do now to improve your cardio endurance:

  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs.
  • Pursue an active hobby like tennis, swimming, or riding your bike (especially riding your bike).
  • Take a brisk walk on your lunch break instead of snacking at your desk.
  • Go kayaking or paddleboarding.
  • Get a jump rope and skip rope to music.
  • Dance!

 

Add Some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Preparing for a Bicycle Adventure: Fitness Tips for the 50+ Athlete

Although it sounds complicated, HIIT really isn’t. It’s simply combining brief intervals of intense exercise with longer periods of less strenuous work. You can incorporate HIIT just by running for a few seconds every few minutes when you take your daily walk—or pedaling extra hard for 10 to 30 seconds periodically on your training bike rides.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends HIIT because it:

  • Improves aerobic (and anaerobic) fitness.
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol profiles.
  • Reduces belly fat and body weight while preserving your muscle mass.

Sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t. And the best thing is that HIIT can be modified to suit any fitness level and you don’t have to do it every day to see results. Our fitness guru Todd Starnes recommends observing these rules:

  • Aim for “comfortably challenging,” there’s no need to make yourself miserable.
  • Think quality over quantity—if you are working hard but struggling to keep the pace you had after your first couple of intervals, you’ve done enough for that workout.
  • Four to six intervals no more than twice per week is more than enough to experience the benefits of HIIT.

 

Don’t Neglect the “4 Rs” of Recovery

Preparing for a Bicycle Adventure: Fitness Tips for the 50+ Athlete

Recovery is even more important for the beginning or older athlete, so pay extra attention to the four “Rs” of recovery—

Rehydrate. If your exercise period is 60 minutes or shorter, rehydrating with water is probably enough. For longer sessions, use a sports beverage with carbs and electrolytes.

Refuel. You need to eat to replenish the fuel your body spent and provide nutrients to help your body recover. For adults over 50, that means protein—at least 15 to 25 grams in the hour after exercise. Protein bars and shakes are a convenient option if you don’t feel like preparing a snack.

Rest. I’m not just talking about a short break after exercise (although that’s always important), I’m talking about a healthy amount of deep, restorative sleep at night to give your body time to recover and repair.

Repair. The recovery process looks different in everyone, but for older adults, alternating heat and cold therapy, soft tissue massage, or even therapeutic soaks are helpful for encouraging the muscle repair that occurs after exercise.

The tour guides at Bicycle Adventures take recovery seriously with an appropriate schedule of hydration, nourishing snacks and drinks, healthy breakfasts, and even special accommodations for your own diet and nutrition routine.

 

What You Eat Matters More than You Think

Preparing for a Bicycle Adventure: Fitness Tips for the 50+ Athlete

Your changing nutritional needs become even more noticeable once you hit 50. For one thing, your body may not absorb essential nutrients as well as it did when you were younger—and strenuous exercise impacts digestion, a potential “perfect storm” of nutritional deficits.

Here are some foods to eat if you want your body to be ready to go when you are:

  • Probiotics set the stage for a healthy gut, the gatekeeper to a healthy body. Some people use a probiotics supplement, but you can naturally introduce these healthy bacteria into your gut by eating yogurt with live active cultures (look for the LAC stamp), fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, and aged cheeses.
  • Fiber feeds the healthy gut bacteria and aids digestion. Get what you need with easy-to-eat foods like barely ripe bananas, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and asparagus.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, help you burn fat, and are good for your heart. Incorporate more servings of fatty fish like salmon to boost this important nutrient.
  • Protein helps repair and grow muscles and maintain bone and joint strength. Try to get some protein at every meal with foods like dairy, fish, poultry, meat, or plant-based sources (lentils, nuts, seeds).
  • Vitamin D is essential to muscle recovery and maintaining healthy bones. Unfortunately, aging skin isn’t as effective at synthesizing vitamin D from the sun, so it’s important to add it to your diet with either supplements or fortified dairy products.

 

How to Ramp up to the Next Level If You’re a Steady 30-miler Cyclist

Preparing for a Bicycle Adventure: Fitness Tips for the 50+ Athlete

So you’ve progressed to a great level—30 miles is a brilliant achievement—well done! But what if you just want to challenge yourself a little more and break through the 30-mile plateau?

Rest assured, you are not alone and there are several ways of getting to that next level, which I would love to share with you.

    • Get More Power Behind Your Pedals

Add plyometric training (or jump training) to your weekly workout. Research has shown that in just one month, you can increase your power endurance by a healthy 17%! To avoid injuries, starting slow is the name of the game— so try squat jumps twice a week.

    • Think Smart When you Climb

Pick a gear in which you can pedal smoothly, not mash. Think about pedaling across the stroke rather than simply up and down. When you are out of the saddle, if you feel your bike is swinging from side to side, shift to an easier gear.

    • Avoid The Dead Zone

Brought on by repeated training at a single, moderately hard intensity. The dead zone can affect enthusiasts who push the pedals hard but don’t follow any training program. In order to improve, the body needs to adapt, which is achieved by a program that hits your personal extremes.

    • Get the most from your speed

I know it sounds simple, but always remember to make yourself as aerodynamic as possible on your descents. You will maximise every ounce of speed you have gained. So sit back on the saddle and ride with your hands in the drops. Then tuck your knees and elbows into the bike and lower your head for better results.

    • Resting Heart Rate (RHR) : a number you should know

It’s one of the best ways to monitor overtraining. If your beats per minute are 10% higher than normal, when you take your RHR in the morning (before you get out of bed), then you might want to have an easier day.

    • Get Creative with Incentives

We all need a little something as a reward in order to remain focused, so when you achieve one of your goals, treat yourself—you deserve it!

Hopefully, I’ve given you some practical tips and pointers to help you get started on a physical program of preparation for your tour. You’ll notice that none of the exercises I suggest require pricey equipment, a gym membership, or hours of your time—you can do them at home and on your own schedule.

 

Ready to Ride?

If you have any questions about fitness, preparation, and recovery, I’m always here to talk to you. And if you’re still looking for the perfect bicycle adventure for you—I can help you with that, too! Get in touch to start planning the trip of a lifetime.

If you’d like to find out more about how to go about planning your bicycle adventure, sign up to our free email course. It’ll teach you everything you need to know.

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Top 10 Cycling Trends for 2018

We all remember our very first bikes, and think about how much has changed in the cycling world since!

Remember downtube shifters of the 70s? Those things are now in the past. The advancements in cycling over the years have made our rides smoother, faster and more comfortable, and bikes more durable and light.

Think back to last year, since then road bikes have become faster, shifting is going digital, and mountain bikes are changing their frame geometry. It’s exciting to see what changes and trends will continue into 2018 and beyond.

So whether you’re a newbie to cycling (maybe considering your first tour), or a committed cyclist take a peek at a few of our predicted top cycling trends in 2018 before you hit the road or the trail.

 

1. Manufacturers Are Going Aero

Time trial/triathlon bikes are no longer the only bikes being built for speed and aerodynamics. Ever since the UCI has declared a 6.8 kg minimum race bike weight limit, many top-of-the-line road bikes can’t get much lighter, but they can continue to get faster through better aerodynamic design.

For example, Giant’s new Propel Disc aero road bikes are first of its kind for the popular bike manufacturer. First seen last year in the Tour de France, the Propel Disc is now available on the public market. Giant claims it has the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any bike in its class, and has lower drag coefficients due to the addition of disc brakes.

The Specialized Tarmac has a new D-shaped frame and new seat tube and seatpost design that makes it more aerodynamic. The new Orca Aero from Orbea is a beautiful aerodynamic design that pushes the boundaries of speed. You’ll start seeing many of these new bikes at all the big cycling tours in the coming racing season.

 

2. Disc Brakes Are Becoming Mainstream in Road Cycling

Once the brake system just for mountain bikes, disc brakes are continuing to become more mainstream in road cycling. The pro cyclists are still trialing the disc brakes in the peloton, but they are likely to become standard in road bikes in the coming years.

German pro cyclist, Marcel Kittel, road last year on a Specialized Venge ViAS Disc on the Quick-Step Floors team. He became the first rider to win a stage of the Tour de France on a bike with disc brakes. Many of the high-end 2018 bikes come standard with disc brakes, like the Trek Emonda, Giant Propel, Scott Foil, and more.

 

3. Gravel Bikes Continue to Gain Popularity

We said it last year—gravel bikes are becoming more popular worldwide in 2018. Gravel bikes are a versatile bike on and off the road making it attractive to a variety of riders. Last year gravel bikes exploded in popularity across the United States and they are growing rapidly into the international market.

Gravel events are also popping up everywhere—there might just be one on a forest road near you!

 

4. Wheels and Tires Are Still Getting Wider for Road Bikes

10 Top Cycling Trends for 2018

Once again, we predicted this last year. The trend is still continuing into 2018. While 25mm wide tires are still the standard for road bikes, 28mm isn’t uncommon.

Unlike like traditional rim brakes, disc brakes allow manufacturers to offer more clearance for wider tires and wheels. We predict that the 27.5 x 2.6 width will become the momentary “standard” this year.

 

5. Power Meters For All Budgets

Power meters are no longer for just the pro cyclists and the wealthy. With new technology and new manufacturers jumping into the market, power meters are becoming more affordable. Shimano, one of cyclist’s largest component manufacturers, has finally decided to dip their toes into the game this year.

While the jury is still out on the new Shimano Dura-Ace R9100-P power meter, Garmin has released the new Garmin Vector 3, which measures leg power independently. The budget-friendly Vector 3S, which measures one leg and doubles it for total power, will gain more attraction this year due to its price tag under $600 USD.

 

6. Indoor Training is Getting Smart

Smart trainers are becoming more popular, like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and other apps. The new Wahoo Kickr Climb is the first of its kind by simulating climbing. The indoor trainer adjusts the front end of your bike to simulate real-time grade changes. You can ascend hills up to a 20% grade and descend down to a -10% to mimic real road conditions.

 

7. Mountain Bike Frames Are Changing

10 Top Cycling Trends for 2018

Not only are road bikes getting more aerodynamic, but mountain bike frames are changing. The top tubes are getting longer and the head angles are getting slacker. With the changes in the top of the frame, offset forks are becoming shorter to adapt to the wheelbase. The Transition Sentinel is pushing the design of mountain bikes with its new steeper seat tubes.

Longer travel 29ers are becoming popular. The Orbea Rallon is an innovative design that is leading the trend of slacked out 29ers enduro race bikes. The new geometry turns these popular cross-country and enduro racing bikes into a fun all-mountain trail bike, too.

 

8. Shifting to Digital Shifters

Both mountain and road shifter are continuing to go digital. While we predict that digital shifting is not going to stick for mountain bikes in 2018, it will continue to grow in the road cycling industry.

FSA just released their new K-Force WE groupset and Shimano has updated its Ultegra Di2 set this year. While we’d like to see digital electronic shifting on the lower end models of bikes, that is probably not going to happen this year.

 

9. Integrated Cockpits Are Coming

Once mainly reserved for TT/triathlon bikes, integrated cockpits are becoming more popular in road bikes as road bikes continue to become more aerodynamic. Integrated cockpits have their pros and cons. They can help tidy up cable routing and save weight. But, if you ever want to change the length of your stem or make any changes to your bar angle, you can’t do that without swapping out the whole assembly.

 

10. eBikes Will Continue to Become Popular

It doesn’t matter if you think riding an ebike is cheating or not. They are continuing to become popular for both mountain and road bikes. The Market Urbanism Report predicts that 2018 will be the year of the ebike.

Many bike manufacturers are making them now, like Giant, Bianchi, and Focus. Cities like San Francisco and New York City have electric bike share programs that are a huge hit with commuters and tourists.

eBikes are not just commuter bikes either. The Focus Project Y looks just like your fancy road bike, but with a hidden motor inside. It just might be the perfect commuting or touring bicycle. Our bike partner, Orbea has a collection of road, mountain, leisure, and urban ebikes to meet all your riding needs.

Give an eBike a try—we think everyone should love them.

 

Are You Ready to Ride?

With over 30 years of cycling tour experience, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry. If all these 2018 bike trends are making you excited to ride, why don’t you get in touch today and start planning your ultimate bicycle adventure? We’d be happy to talk shop and share a few more of our favorite new trends this year. We offer awesome bike trips around the world, and you can even try some of the latest technology with our top-of-the-line Orbea bikes.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can go about planning your ultimate cycling adventure, sign up for our free email course.

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9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

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9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

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9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

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9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

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9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

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9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

Go to Homepage

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm! Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the

The post 9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring appeared first on Cycling Blog | Bicycle Adventures.

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