Can I Really Do This?
Can I Really Do this?
We know you’re wondering “Are these guys serious? An unsupported bike trip in a country where I don’t necessarily speak the language? Can I really do this?”
The short answer is yes, you can. You’ll need a certain independent spirit, a willingness to take a few risks (like a ride in the rain, a bad dinner, an uncomfortable hotel or fixing a flat by the side of the road) and a curiosity about people and things that won’t always be what you’re used to. And if you do go, you'll be rewarded by beautiful scenery, glorious countrysides, wonderful food, and generally a lot of fun.
All our tours (so far) are in France, and you likely don’t speak French. Don’t worry, 60+ million people visit France every year, and most of them don’t speak French either. Most of our current and planned tours are in areas that get a certain number of visitors, so the locals are used to that. If there’s such a thing as a universal language in Europe these days, it’s English, so you’ll get by.
And don't forget about Google Translate (and others). This can be incredibly useful in places where you don't speak the language. If you've never used it, you should check it out. With the camera option it will even read signs!
That said, it doesn’t hurt to learn a few simple phrases in French. Just the ability to say “Hello” (bonjour) “Good-by” (au revoir) and “thank you” (merci) will go a long way toward smoothing things out for you (see Travel Tips, French Culture).
Another big obstacle for most people is the idea that they have to take everything with them. Every self guided or guided tour that we know about provides baggage transfer between stops, you ride with just what you’ll need for that day.
While we’re not necessarily opposed to that, we prefer to carry our own gear for two reasons. First is expense. Except in a one or two specific areas, the baggage transfer service is only available as part of a self guided tour, and these are very expensive compared to going it alone. The second reason is that it ties you down. All this has to be arranged in advance, and if you want to change your itinerary mid-stream, it’s just that much harder. So have a look at our Packing page. If we can do it, so can you.
Finally, there’s the problem of cycling emergencies. If you’re thinking about a long bike trip in France, chances are you already know how to fix a flat tire, which, frankly, is about all you really need to know. If not, there’s any number of tutorials online where you can learn how. Otherwise the company that rented you the bicycle will certainly help you out on the rare occasion that anything else goes wrong.