Choosing a self-guided bike tour is a great way to explore the country at your own pace. But what can you expect on a self-guided adventure, and how should you prepare for it? Read on!
Self-guided bike tours provide very flexible and independent ways of travelling by bike. They cost less than guided bike tours, usually don't require a minimum of participants to run and are perfect for experienced riders who want to ride on their own with the support and convenience of several services already planned out for them like accomodation, luggage transfer, routebooks and GPS, airport pick-ups, etc. All our bike tours in Portugal can be done either as self-guided or guided - you can choose the most appropriate to you.
You are never "on your own" on a self-guided bike tour with Live Love Ride, as we provide a series of services to support your tour. There are, however, some things you must take into consideration before opting for a self-guided bike tour to explore Portugal on a bike. Here's a list on what to expect on our self-guided tours:
Airport pick-ups to your first hotel and drop-offs at the end of the tour are included on our standard self-guided tours, just like your guided tours.
Luggage transfers between hotels are included in our self-guided bike tours. So you don't have to carry any extra weight and you have no need to carry a bike rack with you, making it easier to focus on enjoying the ride.
Unless specifically requested, the only meal included in your self-guided bike tour is breakfast, at the hotel. All other meals are yours to choose from which, on a self-guided adventure, makes more sense as you set your own pace and can stop at whichever time you prefer. On our routebooks, we suggest a series of our favourite restaurants and cafés for you to stop by and enjoy the local cuisine. Also, Portugal has plenty of options to stop for food and drinks and it's actually one of the best ways to get to know the local culture.
On our self-guided bike tours, accomodations are previously arranged. We operate with some of the best hotels on the regions you chose to explore, and all of them have safe places to store your bikes during night time.
Bikes and gear
All our standard tours include bike rental - you can opt for a mountain, touring or road bike ( depending on the tour you have chosen), choose from an array of pedal systems ( we'll install them previously for you), helmets ( included in the tour). Other gear that accompanies the bike rental is water bottle cages and bottles, handlebar bas so you can carry your essentials ( you can choose to ride without them), saddle bags with multitool, tire levers, extra inner tube, so you can tackle any minor mechanical problem you encounter along the way.
Private briefing and bike fit
At the start of your tour, you'll be welcomed by a Live Love Ride representative, who'll provide you with a private briefing, detailing all the information you need to know before your tour: detailed itinerary, weather prediction, daily rides, suggested restaurants and points of interest along the way, emergency contacts, overall tips on cycling in Portugal and all the gear necesary for your tour will be handed out by the guide. You'll also go through a bike fitting process, to make sure your height, saddle, pedals and everything else is fit accordingly, so you enjoy your tour.
Routes, route book and GPS rental
Bike routes are previously planned and designed from hotel to hotel, so they leave nothing to immagination. They are already uploaded on the Garmin GPS that we include with the self-guided tour, which is your main navigation system - just follow the daily tracks on your GPS to get around. Also, a routebook will accompany your GPS - it'll be handed out during the private briefing - with a description of your daily rides.
Emergency cellphone and number
We will provide you with a portuguese phone and emergency contacts, should you need to contact us in any ocasion.
Riding by yourself
Our self-guided tours have a minimum of just two travelers, so don't count riding in a group - you'll be riding in your own group, most of the times. It's great if you value independence and choosing your own timing and pace. If you are looking for group comraderie - which always makes up for a more enriching experience - a guided bike tour migt be a better choice. So make sure you take some time before the tour to ride by yourself or with the fellow riders you'll be sharing the trails/roads with.
More independence = less support
Unlike guided bike tours, self-guided bike tours do not have an accompanying support van. This means that it's your responsibility to get to the next hotel every day, even if you head into bad weather or just don't feel like riding anymore. If you do run into trouble, though, call the emergency hotline, and the tour company will help as much as possible. So make sure you follow our packing list and bring all the gear necessary to prepare for weather changes.
Self-Navigation and bike repair
You are expected to follow the tracks on your GPS which are your main navigation system, so basic understanding or experience of GPS is a plus ( we do, however, explain how to use the GPS's on your private briefing). You'll also be expected to fix your own flats (If you don't know how to, ask your local bike mechanic to show you how to do it or ask your Live Love Ride guide during the private briefing) and handle minor bike repairs during the ride. In the rare case of bicycle breakdowns, you may be asked to take public transportation or a taxi to the next town, where there may be a repair shop that can fix the problem - we work with several bike shops throughout the routes and they will be able to assist you with mechanical problems ( according to their availability). Make sure you know how to change a flat and handle minor issues that may occur during your rides.
Ride in similar conditions
On most of our bike tours, you'll be riding several days in a row. On a guided bike tour, you can hop in on the support van or even shorten the ride, as we are able to customize it to your experience, which you wan't be able to do on a self-guided bike tour. So make sure you prepare yourself by riding the same type of bike you'd be using on the tour in order to better simulate the conditions you are going to encounter - it's very different to ride in mountain, road or hybrid bikes. Also, we suggest you ride at least two days in a row, so your body adapts better to these conditions and to take notice of the average mileage and altimetry you'd be riding on your tour itinerary - make sure you experience riding those many miles before you do the tour.
If you are an experienced rider and like to explore on your own, a self-guided bike tour might just be best option for you! If you feel unsure and don't master these points, a guided tour might be a better option, for sure. If you need any help or guidance, don't hesitate to contact us.