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Educational Tours

Our Leadership Training, Intro to Road Touring and Intro to Gravel Touring & Bikepacking courses combine classroom learning taught by our experienced tour leaders with self-contained bike touring. Enjoy the opportunity to take what you learned and put it into practice while having a seasoned tour leader accompany you along the way. Whether your goal is to learn the basics of self-contained touring or to hone your cycling and leadership skills, these courses are the perfect mix of education and practice. Keep reading below for more information about each of these educational courses.

Introduction to Road Touring

Many cyclists dream of traveling on a self-supported bicycle tour but lack the experience and know-how to strike out on a bicycle adventure. If that sounds like you, then this is your course.

Instruction is structured to teach the beginning cycle tourist the basics of traveling by bicycle with two days of outdoor instruction, after which we’ll hit the road on a four-day, self-contained camping tour. You’ll learn the basics of bicycle travel including what to bring, how to pack a loaded bike, cooking techniques, and emergency communication. Then you get a chance to apply your newly acquired knowledge on a mini-tour through the countryside of a location you choose. You’ll complete the course with an increased confidence in your traveling abilities and an enhanced knowledge of the benefits of traveling by bicycle.

“It was a very well-organized tour in a beautiful and historic location, and while the weather did not cooperate, I was amazed at the resilience and good nature of our group. The weather could not keep us from having a great time.” 

Introduction to Gravel Touring & Bikepacking

Thought about getting back into the mountains or woods on two wheels? These tours will teach you how to tour self-supported in more remote settings and through a variety of terrains, from unpaved roads to mountain bike trails. We’ll spend the first two days with hands-on instruction, dealing with equipment, packing, navigation, safety, and cooking in the wild. Then you’ll put these skills to the test on a four-day adventure on backcountry dirt roads in Montana.

On this mini-expedition, you learn and practice how to negotiate loose dirt, gravel, sticks, rocks, and dirt road passes. You’ll also learn how to travel lightly and responsibly through remote areas and apply all that you have learned to the practice of traveling on a loaded mountain bike. Come join the ranks of bikepackers. It will open up a whole new world of cycling adventures in some of North America’s most spectacular areas.

“Everything was phenomenal! The tour leaders were very knowledgeable and helped create awesome camaraderie among our group. They helped with not just biking but camping and cooking! Everything! They always made me feel taken care of BUT also gave me the freedom to create my own adventure. It was the best trip of my life. I feel so empowered because of this trip.” 

Leadership Training Course

Our members have attended our Leadership Training Course for a variety of reasons — to start leading tours on their own, to hone their leadership skills, or to get more background for helping out with local cycling events. Whatever the reason, the Leadership Training courses are open to all cyclists.

These four-day courses cover a lot of ground. There are demonstrations of group equipment, role-playing based upon actual tour situations, and technique rides. The most important elements of the course, however, are the lectures and discussions about the philosophies of leading small group bicycle tours. Topics include: managing group dynamics, facilitating conflict resolution, the many aspects of motivating participants, and demonstrating good public relations while on the road. Instructors and advisors for the courses are Adventure Cycling’s most accomplished leaders. They have learned the ins and outs of tour leadership firsthand and are ready to address any questions you might have. 

“The experience provided personal insight and growth on and off the bike. I can use the skills learned in all aspects of my life. I met wonderful people from all over the U.S. and feel enriched by my interactions with them.” 

Learn More about our Educational Tours

What is included in the price?

  • Adventure Cycling Tour Leaders/Instructors
  • All meals*
  • Accommodations**
  • Course Materials
  • Maps and cue sheets (most tours have digital mapping available)
  • Safety triangle and a gift
  • Park entry fees for National and State Parks
  • Use of group cooking equipment, tool kit, and first-aid supplies

*Meals typically start with dinner on day one and end with lunch on the last day, and include group meals. You may choose to supplement our traditional meal schedule with other meals on your own.
**The overnight for the last day of the trip is typically not included.

Level of Support

Our Introduction Courses are based on our self contained tour model and require you to carry all of your own gear, as well as a portion of the group cooking equipment and food, which are split up between all members of your group. There is no vehicle support on our self contained tours. We typically have one tour leader who traditionally rides 'sweep' as the last person in the group.

Our Leadership Training Courses are also based on our self contained tour model, however the group base camps for the duration of the tour. For this reason, you do not need to carry your stuff on your bike, but on our daily rides, you should be prepared to be self sufficient.

On all of our Educational Courses, our rotating group cooking and shopping help create a bond within your group like no other.

Before You Go

Upon signing up for an educational tour, you will receive confirmation and preparatory materials, including a Before You Go booklet for Educational Courses (PDF) or Before You Go booklet for Leadership Training Courses (PDF), which contain a packing list and training tips. About 60 days prior to your trip, you will receive a Tour Information Packet with specific logistical details about your starting location, the designated bike shop, shipping your bike, making travel arrangements, and much more.

Meals and Group Cooking

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided for each day of the trip. Your group shares responsibilities for food purchase, preparation, and clean up on a rotating basis. On our Intro Courses, food and group cooking gear are also distributed among group members and each participant must set aside approximately one-fourth of their total carrying capacity for this purpose. Leadership Training Courses do not require participants to carry group food or equipment on their bikes. Vegetarian and special dietary needs will be accommodated, though food selection may be limited in some locations.

Accommodations

Most of the overnights will be at private or public campgrounds with a range of amenities. Depending on the nature and location of the trip, these facilities could range from RV parks with hot tubs to wilderness locations without running water. You will need a good freestanding tent with a ground cloth, a sleeping bag rated appropriately for the season and elevation of your tour, and a sleeping pad. Some of our courses may use indoor accommodations such as a hostel or cabin where participants will share space with others of the same gender. We strive to find showers as much as possible, but there may be some nights that they are not available.

Being Prepared

Adventure Cycling tours are a great way to get out and explore new places and meet new friends. You should plan on coming to your tour prepared to ride, both physically and with the correct equipment. Check out our Before You Go booklet for Educational Courses (PDF) or Before You Go booklet for Leadership Training Courses (PDF) for more information on training and packing. You shouldn't come to your tour planning to ride into shape, as coming to the trip ready for anything will have you enjoying it from day one.

Be sure to read the full tour itinerary, including the Adventure Level, Terrain, and Technical Difficulty ratings to make sure that you prepare fully for the tour. If you have additional questions about the tour, please reach out to us at tours@adventurecycling.org.

Weather on our trips is highly variable and can be unpredictable. Your Tour Information Packet will have some information about weather for your tour, but you should come prepared to ride in all riding conditions no matter where your tour is or what time of year it takes place.

Mechanical Support

Our Educational Courses are based around our self contained tour model, and require a degree of mechanical self-sufficiency. You should have the tools and skills necessary to change flats and perform minor mechanical adjustments. We will carry a group kit with general tools that will work for most bikes. You should bring any specialty tools and parts that you may need, especially on more remote tours where access to bike shops is limited. Our leaders have some basic mechanical skills, but are not trained mechanics.

Disclaimers

Participation on an Adventure Cycling Association tour is physically demanding, strenuous, and potentially hazardous. By registering and joining the tour, you assume the risk associated with your participation.

While we strive to find routes that are off the beaten path, many of our trips must use roads that can be heavily trafficked in order to get us to our overnight location, a grocery store for grocery shopping, or an attraction along the way. Your leader will cue you in to these sections during your daily map meetings. Traffic volume, shoulder width, and road conditions are not part of a tour's difficulty rating system.

The number of participants on a tour may be adjusted in response to demand and facility availability. Adventure Cycling reserves the right to make route and accommodation modifications without notification and to make alterations and substitutions to the itinerary as needed to improve the quality of the tour or to accommodate the comfort and well-being of our guests.

Adventure Cycling Association is an equal opportunity recreation provider that is an authorized permittee with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and departments of transportation. Adventure Cycling Association is working cooperatively with these agencies to secure the appropriate permits.

In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call 202.720.5964 (voice or TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Call to talk with the tours department: 800-611-8687

July 2021
August 2021

Photo by Derek Gallagher

Tour Team Top Picks

Cycle the Divide - Montana
Cycle the Divide - Montana

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Acadia and Mt. Desert Island
Acadia and Mt. Desert Island

Inn to Inn. Spend a long weekend riding the scenic roads that bring you through Maine’s only National Park - Acadia. Relax by the rocky Otter Cliffs, listen to Thunder Hole, and maybe even take a trip on the famous Carriage Roads.