If you want complete freedom and flexibility to choose to spend more time cycling the coast or one night in a hostel and the next in a luxury B&B, then you’ll be looking to take up the challenge of planning your own cycling holiday.

First thing’s first, you’ll need to decide what type of holiday you want and where you want to go.

If you’re up for a real adventure with a friend you might try cycling Asia, or if you’d prefer a no-pressure holiday with the kids maybe coastal New South Wales is more your thing.

When it comes to choosing your destination, decide how much you want to spend to get there, what you want to see and how long you want to be away for.

If you’d like to keep it local in WA, there’s the South West to explore, with great mountain bike tracks in places such as Albany, Margaret River and Pemberton.

For the experienced mountain biker, there’s more than 1000km of the Munda Biddi Trail between Perth and Albany.

Well-equipped road cyclists can choose to tackle the highways and journey long distances between towns or do shorter stints, trying out coastal bike paths in places such as Busselton.

Venturing further afield, cycling the Eastern States can help to satisfy that travel bug without running the risk of feeling out of your depth overseas.

Tasmania’s picturesque west coast makes cyclists work hard for the view with climb after climb.

For the really adventurous, the world is your oyster. Aim to see as much of Europe as you can on two wheels, take things easy along Britain’s canals or aim to complete a leg of the Tour de France.

When travelling with extra gear, it pays to do your research to see which airline is going to give you the most baggage for your buck.

Passengers on Qatar Airways can check in one piece of sports equipment up to 10kg in addition to their baggage allowance.

For those with a really light roadie this is great news, but if your bike exceeds the weight limit you will be subject to excess weight charges.

With Emirates, bicycles are treated as part of your normal 30kg baggage allowance and you will be charged excess baggage fees to check in more than this.

Paying for your bike as excess baggage can quickly become costly, especially if you leave it until the airport to buy the extra allowance.

Qantas also includes bikes as part of your baggage allowance, which is 20kg for domestic travel and up to 30kg for international services.

Garuda passengers score the best deal with a 23kg sporting equipment allowance per person in addition to their standard baggage allowance on any flight.

Be sure to pack your bike exactly to your chosen airline’s requirements if you want it to be accepted for travel.

Most airlines will ask you to deflate your tyres, remove the pedals, fix the handlebars parallel to the frame, remove the front wheel on large bicycles and ensure it’s all packed tightly inside a bike box.

However, always double-check specific requirements.

An alternative to flying over your own bike is hiring one when you arrive at your destination — but it may not be as well looked after as your own.

Make sure you test out the bike and check for any hidden faults before you ride off so you can ensure it will last your journey.

If the weather is good and you’re looking for an adventure, loading a tent on to your bike and going on a camping holiday is a great option.

However, for those who seek a little more comfort to rest their weary muscles after a day in the saddle, a hotel room or self-contained unit is going to appeal more.

Most places should be happy to accommodate your bike, however it is worth phoning ahead to warn them.

You may choose to pre-book everything before you leave, ensuring you will have a place to stay along the routes you plan to take, or decide as you go.

A good option is to pre-book your first and last nights of accommodation since you know where you will be starting and where you will need to finish to return home.

You can then make arrangements for subsequent nights stays as you go, phoning to check for vacancies during your lunch stops and booking when you have an idea of how much further you want to travel that day.

But try to investigate hotel possibilities before you head off to get an idea of what is available.

For those who want to journey by themselves but don’t like the idea of organising the finer details of their trip, a self-guided cycling tour may be the solution.

There are plenty of companies, both locally and abroad, who will book your accommodation for you, supply a hire bike and equipment and transport your luggage.

Choose from a range of locations and distances to find a tour that suits your interests and fitness level.

Check out cyclingtours.com.au for a collection of Australian and New Zealand self-guided as well as escorted tour options.

Things to bear in mind

•It’s a good idea to start training for your cycling holiday as soon as you can. Get yourself prepared to cover your target distance each day and take some time to get used to carrying extra weight on your bike.

•Make sure you can repair a puncture. You don’t want to be between towns without knowing how to fix a flat tyre.

•Check the weather conditions for the time of year you plan to travel. You will need to know the temperature, expected rainfall and hours of daylight so you can avoid riding in the dark.

•If you plan to move from place to place, you will need to carry your luggage so pack light.


© The West Australian

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