A Cycle Croatia Cruise is a rewarding and enriching way to explore Croatia whilst tackling new and interesting terrain.
For some, it may pique interest, but for others, the idea of cycling through unfamiliar territory inhibits from taking the leap and trying something new. Rest assured, you’re not the only one! To help ease your concern, we sat down with active and professional cyclists to ask them what they would do differently if it was their first time cycling abroad.
Much Better Adventures Co-Founder
Driven by what the world has to offer, I co-founded Much Better Adventures so everyone can enjoy a proper holiday making use of their total amount of time off work.
What I would recommend if you’re interested in a cycling holiday is to ride with a guide. These are people who love the outdoors, work in it everyday, and who literally make a living out of how well they know the nature that surrounds the area they live in. They know more than the routes. They know the best lookout points, the best time of day to cycle through it and they know the history.
They can answer each and every question that pops into your head. You never know which question will be the one that unlocks a fascinating story – and they’ll volunteer a few tales themselves as well! If you’re mountain biking, for example, you can ask them who built the trails; there’s likely to be a great story.
As avid cyclists, our introduction to cycling was taking the chance on a cycle tour which has now become our preferred way to travel! Our initial cycling trips consisted of 2 different cross-country routes and I would change one thing differently for each.
Our first trip was France to China. This was planned in a very short period of time and with a very small budget. If I could do one thing differently it would be to invest in some good, strong and waterproof panniers. Unfortunately, my panniers broke on day one and by the end of the trip, both panniers were held together with several rolls of duct tape - it also meant that cycling in the rain had additional issues.
Given our experience with our first trip, we were more prepared for the cycle trip across Canada and the U.S. This meant better gear but too much gear! If I could do it again, I would pack the bike in advance then remove 50% of whatever I had packed - no matter how hard that is. Chances are that you don’t need all that gear and, if you did, you will most likely be able to pick it up along the way.
My biggest tip would be; don’t let fear of excuses hold you back. There is no perfect way to do a bike trip - do it your way where you can learn and adapt as you cycle.
Author, Motivational Speaker
Travelling through over 80 countries by bicycle, I’ve come to learn a few things through my trips. I encourage that travellers slow down. Take more detours, more backroads, have more conversations, accept more offers of kindness from locals and open yourself to serendipity.
Architect by profession but cyclist by passion, my love for cycling goes back beyond I can recall. One of my favourite hobbies is to design new routes that I’ll cycle by looking at Google Earth!
Given my love of cycling, I’ve amassed a fair amount of distance in my life and with that comes some moments I’d change from my first trip. I would suggest checking your bike thoroughly so you prevent any mechanical problems. It’s difficult to enjoy your trip when your way of transport gives you problems every day! Good tuning of your bike before you leave is essential. At the end of the day, the less you have to worry about, the more you can enjoy your cycle.
Comic Artist, Public Speaker
My dream to cycle throughout the world was made a reality when I won a competition to win a touring bicycle and gear. This enabled me to set off and explore the world one bike ride at a time. Throughout my rides, I’ve come to learn a few things as well.
Without running the risk of sounding like a cliche, take less stuff! I think a good rule of thumb is that if it's a non-essential item that you can get pretty easily, or cheaply, while you're on the road, then probably leave it behind. On many of my trips I've thought, 'Oh, three or four shirts is a good number', but generally I only end up wearing two. Same goes for cycling shorts, sports bras and so on.
It’s crucial to know more mechanical things about your bike before setting off. For example, how to deal with spokes and chain issues. Take very good care of your bike while touring - it is your mode of transport after all.
Lastly, and in my experience, the thing that makes the best and biggest difference on bike trips is when you talk to the locals. Get their recommendations on places to see and which routes to take. Speaking from my own travels, I know when I’m left to my own devices I tend to just follow the main roads or most direct routes. When I get my map out and sit with locals, I find myself being directed to places that are always the highlight of my trip.
With a passion for bicycles, it was natural to design a platform that provides making bicycles smarter and digitally connected. Which is why I know that cycling abroad for the first time can be both an exciting and challenging experience. Finding a good balance between planning and leaving room for spontaneity can also be difficult. If it was my first time cycling aboard, here are things I would do differently.
As a beginner, you’re most likely unaware that not all destinations are created equally whether that’s because of terrain or climate. Whilst your bicycle gives you the freedom to ride anywhere you wish, keep in mind that you want to choose a place where roads are relatively quiet and there are good paths with nice views.
As a first timer, I encourage joining a tour! The guides can cater the trips to suit different fitness levels and personal expectations. The logistics behind getting your bicycle abroad can be quite exhaustive. For my first cycling adventure, I settled in one small village and was simply riding to the nearby cities and towns then coming back the same day - I realised I could have just rented a bicycle from one of the local shops. This would have saved me a lot of hassle with logistics as well as transporting it.
One of the mistakes I made during my first experience cycling abroad was packing too many unnecessary things. You’ll soon come to realise that you don’t need as much as you packed and it will save you the process of having to throw away some of your belongings.
Remember to enjoy your trip by trying local food and enjoying the local culture. Mingle with these locals and feel free to ask for their suggested directions! Trust me, getting to know locals can be very rewarding. Plan your trip carefully but don’t forget to allow room for the spontaneous and unexpected. After all, you want to make this an exciting and memorable adventure.
Certified British Cycling Coach in Road
With over 30 years’ cycling experience at a competitive level, I understand how difficult it can be to take a chance on cycling abroad without the knowledge I've amassed over the years. Cycling is a gratifying achievement and I urge people to give it go despite your fitness levels, concerns, experience or ability.
If you’re going to ride abroad, you will most likely be increasing your cycling endurance as much as 50%. Take it easy in the beginning and gradually challenge yourself so that by the end of your trip your body is in fairly good shape. If you go too hard at the start, you will burn all your matches before you get to the last day. It’s all about a slow burn; stop, drink, eat and create memories.
The biggest thing to focus on before your trip is ensuring that, of course, get some time on your bike before you leave. The more you wish to ride abroad, you need to train for it beforehand. Consistency is key. Focus on your technique too. With better technique comes more confidence, better control, speed and handling - the list is endless!
Lastly, ask your guide questions. No question is ever pointless and invariably someone else was thinking the same thing but too worried to ask!
Ultra-endurance cyclist, Bestselling Author and Children’s Rights Activist
Riding races or riding for leisure, I’ve loved cycling. As an ultra-endurance cyclist I've garnered the title Fastest Women to Circumnavigate the World by Bicycle from the Guinness World Records.
If I would do anything differently, apart from a completely different bike set up, I would also travel lighter. Initially I had all the wrong parts for a long distance bike ride. Overpacking is the usual newbie mistake. People think you can never take too much, you never know when you'll need it. I learned the opposite is true, you can never carry too little. As my journey went on, I started shedding the things I didn't need, till by the end, I was down to a small under seat pack of just 7 kilos. My rule of thumb is only take what you think is absolutely essential and then half that.
I believe that many people put off making their dreams a reality and wait for the right time or the right conditions. There is no such thing. The right time is now. ‘One day’ is just another way of saying ‘never’. My tip to beginners is this, adaptability is your best piece of kit. That, and a lot of duct tape which is my no. 1 "never travel without" item after a tool kit and first aid kit.
Dedicated to growing women’s participation in the cycling industry, Liv Vancouver was born. Passionate about all types of cycling, Liv Vancover is proudly Canada’s first female focussed cycling boutique and I am thrilled I can work for such a company being an avid cyclist myself.
The biggest piece of advice I wish someone would have given me can be summed up in a simple phrase; ‘Don’t be afraid to ask for help.’ When travelling in an area where your native language is common, don’t let not knowing directions, or places to stop get in the way - just ask! Connecting with people while on an active based trip has been one of the most memorable parts of all my bike travelling experiences.
On a more technical note, I would suggest travellers bring less gear than they think they’ll need. You only really need one jersey, one pair of long and short chamois, one light windbreaker and specific gear that is required for your trip such as a rain jacket for more rain centered climates and snacks!
Get out there, mess up and don't be afraid to ask for help
Elmar & Ellen
Our love for cycling began in 2003 when we thought a bicycle tour would be a good way to travel. Fast forward to now and we spend every holiday on a bike!
I (Ellen) have to think back about 25 years on a first trip with a friend to Scotland. We were pretty unprepared, but it was so much fun. The innocence is a great gift, I think. We were very open minded and saw no objections, we were just going for the adventure. Things that complicated our trip were mostly the gear we brought including a very heavy tent with a sleeping bag and a bike that was not suitable for this trip. We were aching because we had no idea about saddles and a proper bike fit. I guess we were able to see through all this though, because the adventure itself was great and I got addicted to it.
The second trip was with my husband and the time he borrowed a bike. The spokes broke, the gearing system wasn’t working properly, it was raining and, yes, we cursed a few times. Again we had to carry heavy gear, but we persevered. We carried too much food that was bought at home and not necessary at all! The thing that comes to mind is that there are shops everywhere in the world - grocery shopping isn't exclusive to your own country.
What I tell people now is, don’t plan too much! Keep the freedom. If you plan to do a 100km trip every day and things get rough, it’s no longer a fun trip. So, just go and enjoy life on the bike.
Bicycle & Ski Tourist
Being a long-distance cyclist and avid skier, I can look at my previous trips in a different light. In regards to my first trip, I would definitely stay in Norway much longer and be less afraid of the technicalities.
Norway was the first foreign trip for my wife and myself. We went to the land of Western Fjords. Our trip was planned for two weeks but we only spent a week in the beautiful places of Western Norway. Between leaving home, packing our bikes for our flight and arriving at our destination, we ran out of time to enjoy the atmosphere of this beautiful country.
For me, the optimal period for a cycling trip is a minimum of 3 weeks. After arranging your ‘technical’ days, you have the chance to enjoy the atmosphere of your destination, be able to meet people and explore all the beautiful places.
From the team of Life In Travel, we enjoy discovering the world from the slow and privileged saddle point of view. I, myself, have spent many years enjoying the wonders and discoveries on two wheels and have an appreciation for each terrain I tackle.
All my trips have specific and special moments which is why I wouldn't change anything about my first trip. Each trip and each traveller have different experiences and sensitivities. Making mistakes, unpleasant impressions, finding yourself in difficult situations, asking and listening all contribute to each person’s experiences. After all, this is what makes a trip truly special!
You should ask yourself why you remember your first trip. You are living the experiences first hand without filters and without the fear that something will go wrong - it is exactly for these reasons that your trip becomes interesting. For all the fears that your journey has brought, with it brings all the mistakes that were resolved, and in most cases, with a big laugh.
We have been travelling by bike for over twenty years and have crossed countries in all five continents. The only real advice we can give to those who are thinking of cycling is - do it! Put your fears aside, bury your anxieties and throw indecision behind you. Whatever happens throughout your journey, at least you have these memories - don’t regret not trying it!
Regardless of whether you’re a novice or professional cyclist, the adventure of a Cycle Cruise prepares you for an invigorating journey in a country brimming with so much to see. So, we encourage that it doesn’t stop you from experiencing all that beautiful Croatia offers as also advised by other professionals throughout this article!