Bike Tour on the Horizon? How to Get in Shape
Article by Walt Ballenberger of Beaux Voyages, Inc.
People who consider going on bike tours often ask: “What kind of physical condition
do I need to be in, and how can I accomplish this?” This article is primarily aimed at very busy
people who don’t have a regular exercise regimen due to work, family obligations, business
The very simple answer to the opening question is as follows: one should participate in 45-60
minutes of aerobic exercise at least twice, but preferably 3 times per week until the bike tour
That being said, the next logical question is: what kind of exercise should one do? Some
suggestions are discussed below, and much more valuable information can be gleaned by
looking at the many resources offered by our friends at About Aerobics. This site can really
answer all your training, diet, nutrition, equipment, and other questions. They even offer
resources for people to set up a personal training program.
First of all, if you don’t normally follow an exercise regimen, you might want to start out in
some sort of group program at your local gym, for example. Many companies now bring in
fitness trainers for aerobics classes during lunch hour as well, so if your employer offers that,
you have a good option to exercise more and eat less. Overcoming inertia and getting started
can be the hardest part of the overall effort. Many people even become almost religious
about their exercise habits once they get started and find a program that works for them.
Here’s an example of something one can do: we live in Colorado, and it’s not always easy to
get a bike ride in during the winter or even spring months when the weather is often blustery.
Our local gym offers spinning classes, and that is an excellent option to train for your bike
tour. Spinning is done on a stationary bike with adjustable tension, and classes are led by an
instructor, usually to music. It takes a few sessions to get used to, because most beginners
are not accustomed to “standing up” on the pedals for 4-5 minutes without sitting down. One
should start slowly, sit down and take it easy if necessary, and forget about being macho in
front of the group. Normally after about 3-4 sessions, you'll learn to pace yourself properly
while endurance improves. The next thing you know you'll be able to keep up with the group.
Expect to burn from 500 to 700 calories in a 45 minute session, as the classes can be intense.
It is also useful to wear a heart rate monitor if you have one and track your pulse during the
session. In addition, part of the program is several minutes of stretching after the class, which
is something most people neglect. For beginners, my advice is to come early and get a good
warm-up. You can learn more about spinning by clicking on this URL.
Another aerobic group exercise option is jazzercise. Jazzercise is popular in most locales, and
it’s normally not hard to find sessions that fit your time availability. As always, the hard part is
getting started. Follow this link for more about jazzercise.
Of course individual aerobic exercises abound as well, including swimming, running, and
various machines which are found in any good gym these days, even in hotels. Anything that
will help you get your heart rate up for awhile will benefit your bike tour training.
Here’s an important point, however: no matter what type of aerobic exercise you choose to
do, it’s absolutely necessary to get outside and put in some miles on a bike. Even if you
spend a good amount of time on a stationary bike at home or in the gym, the feeling of riding
outside is different, and you need to get used to that before your bike tour. Check your tour
itinerary and determine the longest day of riding that you will encounter. If these distances
are not specified, contact your tour operator and ask that question. If you can ride that
amount of miles at home in training, then you will have no problem whatsoever on your bike
tour. You’ll have all day to do those miles on the tour, and you will be stopping often along the
One of the side benefits of bike tours is that they motivate people to get active and get into
shape. You’ll enjoy the beauty of the countryside much more if you’re in good
physical condition. Being outside on a back road, perhaps in a foreign country, smelling the
flowers or the crops or the fresh bread, and greeting the locals you encounter, are all much
and more pleasant if you’re not gasping for breath. And after successfully riding 20-30 miles
and enjoying a busy day of shopping, sight-seeing, and exploring new vistas, you’ll feel you’ve
earned a fabulous dinner and a great bottle of wine. Bonne route!