When I describe a Backroads trip to folks who have never traveled with us before, I often get the response, "Oh, I could never do that! That sounds hard." I beg to differ! The idea that you must be a super-fit cyclist or top-notch hiker to travel on one of our active adventure trips is just not true, and couldn't be further from our core Backroads philosophy.
It Takes All Types
This is one of Backroads major selling points - our trips are designed to accommodate any ability level, whether it's your first time taking a cycling or hiking trip or you're a regular competitor in triathlons. In fact, we regularly accommodate guests on both ends of that spectrum and everywhere in between...sometimes on the same trip! Between the variety of route options available each day and our top-notch leaders and route support (ready for a van pick up? We'll be there!), we're able to cater to anyone who joins us. And you're likely to find at least one activity buddy at your same level on your trip.
A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way
You don't have to have conquered an Iron Man (or even a 5k) to handle the Backroads style of active travel. But, of course, you'll likely get more out of your trip if the bike ride or hike on the first day isn't the first time in months that you've felt a rise in your heart rate. If you get out there even a little bit before your trip, your appreciation for the stunning vistas of the Dalmatian Coast, the Canadian Rockies, or Crater Lake will be so much greater than if you find yourself focused on just trying to catch your breath!
If you haven't been walking, hiking or biking in a while and are feeling a bit rusty, don't sweat it. You could show up tomorrow on a Backroads trip and have the time of your life. But with a bit of advance preparation, you'll get even more out of your experience (able to cover more ground and experience even more in comfort!). Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- First, pick the right trip to suit your interests and ability! Check out our route rating page to see how we rate activity levels on our trips. Decide on what sounds like a good fit, and then you can search the Backroads website by route rating or give ours team a call to help pick a trip that works for you.
- If you're concerned about your biking fitness, check out our electric-assist bike option (a great choice for couples of mixed abilities or if you want to take a trip that you think might push your physical limits more than you'd like) and don't be afraid to take a lay-day and enjoy relaxing at the hotel, lounging by the pool, exploring a quaint town at your leisure or any number of mellow alternatives to the more active daily pursuits.
- Prepare! You don't need to do anything crazy, but it's a good idea to walk a few miles or take a bike out for a couple hours on the weekends.
- Spin classes can be great for fitness, but it's best to get on a real bike if it's been a while - even the best stationary bikes can't replicate the core balance, terrain changes, or gear shifting of the real thing.
- Remember, active travel isn't all about physical activity - it's also about actively engaging with your environment and the local culture. This includes taking time to enjoy some leisure time in the places we visit. And don't forget: the rides and hikes are spread out over the course of each day with plenty of opportunities to take a break for town visits, lunches, snack stops, cultural insights and so much more.
- Lastly, please understand that these tips aren't a list of prerequisites for taking a Backroads trip. We work hard to ensure that each of our guests has an exceptional experience when traveling with us, regardless of fitness level. Remember, our support system will always be there for you, but the French countryside and the trails of Peru are even more spectacular when you're using the power of your own two legs to visit them.
One of my favorite experiences as a trip leader is when a guest who considers themselves to be a novice cyclist rides farther in a single day than they'd ever ridden before - and then proceeds proudly to do it again each day of our trip! I witness this type of achievement all the time, and it's a regular reminder that we're all capable of more than we think, and it doesn't take a pro-level fitness level to have the time of your life on a Backroads Trip!