You don’t have to be an expert cyclist to go on this cycling trip, but a level of training and bicycle knowledge is required. A cycling program beginning 3 months before your trip is essential, gradually increasing in the distance cycled and the weight carried. It may or may not be the first time you’ve done something like this – but whatever your level of fitness or ability, you need to be doing the same thing and that’s training – there’s no escaping it! The more you can cycle with full equipment, the better you will be to judge your ability to cycle longer distances and get a sense of the balance of your fully loaded bicycle. Cycling with fully loaded panniers is the best way for you to judge your progress.
For those undertaking the full 706km Maple Leaf Route, you should assure yourself that you are in excellent physical condition before launching yourself on this adventure. Fatigue tends to be cumulative—the longer you are on the road, the more likely you are to suffer from exhaustion if you have not made a considerable investment in a training program.
What kind of bike is best?
Some bicycles are designed specifically for touring, but a purpose built touring bike is not the only possibility for this trip. A mountain bike is an acceptable substitute. What works less well for this trip is a thin-tired racing bike. For a group with a utility vehicle accompanying and carrying baggage, a thin- tired bike works well.
If you are carrying panniers, the bike chosen should have: strength of frame, reasonably wide tires, ability to carry a touring load, and a low gearing ratio.
To rent or not to rent?
It is recommended to bring your own bike on this trip. It is the bike you know and have trained on. However, rental bikes and equipment are available in both Caen and Paris, including electrically assisted bikes. Even if you rent a bike, it is advisable to bring your own pannier bags.