Group cycling holidays can be absolutely awesome. Your friends, long days of sunny riding, new scenery and routes…
But, for those in charge, the process of booking a group holiday can also be fraught with stress.
In this article we hope to help.
We share our tips for taking the pain out of organising a group holiday and enjoying group cycling once you're there. We want to help you end up with a cycling holiday you and your friends will remember (for all the right reasons!) forever.
Sponsored by Costa Daurada Tourist Board
Part 1: Booking a group cycling holiday
1. Agree on a budget
How much is the trip going to cost? That's usually the first question your friends will want to know when you start planning a cycling holiday.
Your budget will dictate everything about the trip - including
So agree with your friends how much they're willing to pay and go from there.
We'd also recommend collecting a deposit from everyone early on - that way people are committed and can’t back out (which could scupper everyone else’s plans!).
2. Appoint a leader
You need one main point of contact for the trip. They can delegate out jobs to others, but it's always best to have one person that has oversight of all the arrangements.
Jobs that'll need to be taken care of include:
You could always host a booking party - get everyone to do their research on a particular topic and then present their findings to the rest over a bottle of wine and a takeaway. It should be a quicker (and more fun) way of making decisions made than by endless emails/whatsapp messages!
3. Find a cycling holiday destination
Not every cycling destination makes the best group holiday destination. For example, not every destination has hotels that can accommodate large groups, routes that will cater to different fitness levels and cycling experts/services on hand to provide the facilities cyclists need.
Make sure the destination you choose has accommodation that will fit the size, budget and inclinations of your group - whether that's luxury beach villas - or indeed cycling specific hotels.
Start thinking about accommodation early on. Especially if you're travelling with a big group, you'll need plenty of time to find accommodation that meets your budget, criteria and that people are happy with. You don't want to find the perfect hotel only to find it's booked up.
Also consider whether a villa may be a better option than a hotel. If you know each other well, it can be really nice having some communal space.
Check the cancellation policy. Now we're travelling in a post-Covid world, we all know how suddenly things can change; sadly there's always a possibility that you're going to have to end up changing your booking at the last minute.
Plan your routes
On a cycling holiday, the cycling is quite important! A good group holiday destination will have routes everyone's going to love.
Be honest about how fit your group is. You might think you're all like-minded cyclists but if someone hasn't done any training while someone else is fitting in 10 hours a week, there might be problems. Either pick whose going on the hotel very carefully so you're all at about the same level, or try and design your routes to flex around fitness. For example, figure of eight rides often work well so that A group can do both loops while the B group takes it easy or pauses in a cafe a little longer.
Nominate one person from the group to be in charge of having the route on their computer - and at least one other person from the group too (ideally everyone!) in case the group gets split.
And finally, don't leave route planning until the last minute. You don't want to end up on holiday with no routes to ride.
The eternal question of whether to bring your own bike or hire one. It's often a very personal decision - but for those that come down on the side of hiring a bike when they arrive, it's nice to have some high quality options to choose from.
Take a look at the options before you book your group cycling trip, so those that want to hire can do so. It's also nice to know there's someone with a physical storefront in the area - in case of any sizing or technical problems.
Make sure you know who’s doing what in terms of hiring/not hiring so that you can figure out the logistics for transfers/bike hire well before you arrive.
How to find the perfect destination in practice
Part of the reason the Costa Daurada tourist board has asked us to write this guide it that they know their region is really well set up for groups.
They've got some great cycling friendly hotels (details below), there's terrain to suit everyone (flat along the coast, hilly inland), easy flights into Barcelona (just 1 hour's drive away) and pricing to cater all budgets.
More info on Costa Daurada
If you're with a big group of cyclists, the Costa Daurada is perfect - many of the hotels on the coast not only have plenty of capacity, but they also have cycling facilities including secure bike storage, bike hire and bike washes.
Cambrils and Salou are both certified as sport tourism destinations specialising in cycling. Hotels include:
If you prefer to stay inland, there are also hotels there that are very welcoming to cyclists.
Check out our Costa Daurada guide for some ideas.
There's information in our Costa Daurada guide and below:
4. Guided cycling tours or self-guided cycling trip?
Another big consideration is whether you're happy to plan the trip yourself of you prefer to outsource it. There are plenty of cycling holiday companies that will offer everything from fully supported cycling trips (complete with guide on a bike and support van) to self-guided cycling trips where they just give you the routes and you do everything else.
In this article we'll assume you're not going down the fully supported route and will be DIYing - as of course this leaves you with the most number of things to consider!
More info on Costa Daurada
If you're looking for a bit (or a lot!) of help with planning your trip, Costa Daurada has plenty of locally-based cycling providers who can help.
Veerle from Montbike (in Montbrio del Camp, which is on the main route into the Costa Daurada hills from the coast) was very helpful to us as we were putting this article together; she works with a lot of the local hotels and businesses and will be able to help or at least point you in the right direction if she can't help herself!
5. Remember transfers
Unless you're all driving to your cycling holiday, you'll need to remember to book transfers from the airport to where you're staying. Remember to factor in bike boxes!
If it's at all possible, try and fly together - it makes it a lot easier (and cheaper) for transfers!
More info on Costa Daurada
You'll have a much shorter transfer if you are able to fly to Costa Daurada's Reus airport. It's only 10 kilometres from Salou - or you could avoid a transfer altogether by choosing to base yourself from Reus!
6. Book restaurants in advance
It might sound a bit over the top, but if there are more than a handful of you, you definitely need to book restaurants in advance, especially if you're travelling in high season.
Nothing worse than a group of hungry cyclists with nowhere to eat!
More info on Costa Daurada
Cambrils is a foodie paradise and aims to promote seasonal cuisine throughout the year, with a gastronomic calendar and gastronomic days (more information here). We enjoyed some really delicious meals when we visited!
7. Use technology
There are some brilliant tools out there to help you organise your trip. Here are some of our favourites:
A free app that allows you to split costs between groups on trips. You add your expenses really easily on the go, before you forget who paid what, and you can split by percentages or shares. It's also easy to settle up and record who has paid who back.
Our favourite route planning website. You can easily plan and edit routes, upload and download routes and sync with your bike computer. All the routes you find on epicroadrides.com are created using ridewithgps.
If you want to get the group involved in researching/commenting on your trip research, set up a google spreadsheet. That way everyone can view/amend (as you wish) the real time document. You could also create a google doc with details of the finalised plans, so everyone knows what's happening and can access the information on their phone.
Shared photo album
If all of your group is using an Apple phone, then creating a shared photo album is really easy. However, that's pretty unlikely. In this situation, we've used Google Photos before to create shared albums, so everyone can enjoy the photos your group takes on holiday.
8. Check, check, check the details
It's boring but to ensure a hassle-free holiday, the details are really important. Here are a few final points to think about
Part 2: Tips for group cycling on holiday
Something that's often overlooked is that group cycling holidays involve riding as a group!
If you haven't done much group riding, it's definitely worth trying to get out on some group rides before your trip. Ideally you should do these with the people that will be on your trip, so you can get used to each other’s riding styles; it’s also good for motivation.
Here are some group cycling tips:
Learn the basic hand signals cyclists use. For example, point to the ground to warn of debris/pot holes or for larger obstacles such as parked cars, put your hand behind your back and point away from the object.
Remember to shout "car up" (i.e. car is approaching from behind) or "car down (i.e. car is approaching from ahead) to warn your group of other traffic.
While riding at the back of the group can feel less stressful when you're new to group riding, it also means you're more likely to get dropped. That's because gaps get amplified through the group, so a tiny gap at the front for a corner or traffic light can turn into a big gap for you at the back. It's better to try and stay in the front third of the group.
It's also sensible to ride close to the rider in front as this makes your life significantly easier from an aerodynamics point of view. However, since you'll need to be 30cm or less from the rider in front, you're going to need a good level of trust and communication.
3. Bike handling
Never brake suddenly when you're riding in a bunch; you'll cause a pile up.
If you need to slow or stop, give a verbal warning so people know what you're doing.
When cornering, try and maintain a smooth, predictable line and avoid heavy breaking.
4. Don't overlap wheels
It's important not to overlap your front wheel with the back wheel of the rider ahead of you. If you do, there's a high possibility you'll end up touching wheels, which is a common cause of crashes. It's fine to get close to the wheel in front - just don't overlap!
5. Don't be an idiot!
Attacking on a steady ride, riding through red lights because someone's given an "all clear", chasing Strava segments and then not taking your turn at the front after the segment - these all count as idiot behaviour! Don't do it!
6. Other traffic
Bear in mind that while you may have the legal right to ride two abreast on a road, in the interests of karma and road safety it can be a good idea to "single out" and get in single file to let a vehicle overtake.
Also consider how many of you there are in the group and whether you should split into smaller groups for the sake of safety.
7. Check the local rules
Rules for cyclists are surprisingly different in different destinations. Check the rules of wherever you're riding before you visit. You can find information on these for the Costa Daurada here.
Riding in a group cycling along sunny roads in a new destination can be a huge amount of fun; just make sure you do it safely!
We hope this article has inspired you to organise a group cycling holiday - and to consider Costa Daurada when you're deciding where to do it!
Many thanks to the Costa Daurada Tourism Board for making this article possible.
Want more information on cycling the Costa Daurada?
For further information about cycling in the Costa Daurada, do check out our in-depth guide to the region, that includes four tried and tested routes. These articles might also be helpful for you: