Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our Single Most Important Piece of Advice: Begin Planning NOW!

If you are experienced at bicycle touring you know that planning ahead, especially for an overseas trip, is critical.

I'll never forget in 2001 when we were in Italy for the summer and were headed to Ireland to develop a new escorted bike tour. We flew into Shannon Airport and had been in touch with a bike shop in Ennis to rent bikes. I had been talking with this fellow for two weeks and was satisfied that he could provide good quality bikes for our ride.

We arrived in Ennis with panniers, as usual, and a duffel bag with shoes, helmets, locks, tools, and so on. When we got on our bikes the duffel would be strapped astride the panniers to collect the daily flotsam and jetsam you tend to collect: jackets, lunch, maps, and on.

We shuttled to our hotel, spent the night and headed off to the bike shop. "Oh that's right," says he. "You were coming today, now weren't you?" The bikes weren't ready. "Come back after lunch," says he. After lunch, the bikes weren't ready. We finally got them about 5 p.m. and lost an entire day of riding.

The moral, of course, is: make sure you can depend on your rental suppplier OR make sure to bring your own bikes. But if you bring your own bikes you need to:

1) Know where you are arriving and how you'll get to your inbound base (by train? by car? van? or will you pedal?)
2) If you pedal, where will you leave your cases or bike boxes?
3) And if you are pedaling, how's the route from the airport? Is it doable?

In short, think ALL of this through before you get on the airplane.

One last story: We had an acquaintance here in Colorado who had found three weeks to fly to Rome and do some cycling in October one year. We talked at length about his plans. He would: fly to Rome with his own bike, begin pedaling right at Leonardo da Vinci Airport, head north, and then maybe take the train back to fly home.

His bike didn't arrive on his flight. And it didn't arrive the next day. He waited four days for his bike to arrive and he was so paranoid that it might come in and he wouldn't connect with it that he spent a bundle of money staying in a hotel near the airport shuttling back and forth twice a day to see if it arrived.

He was so demoralized with having spent so much money in the hotel and for having missed out on four days of cycling that he changed his ticket and came home on day 5!

No comments:

Post a Comment