Cycling is a wonderful way to discover a new country or region. Pedalling offers the perfect compromise between covering more distance and the chance to explore a place in depth.
Once you’ve settled on a cycling tour of Ireland, how do you decide which suits you better – guided or self guided? Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the differences between the types of bike tours to help you choose what works best for you and your group.
What’s Included on the Trip
Self Guided plus+
|Qualified Expert Guides||✔||⨯|
|Guidance and Local Insights||✔||✔|
|Gourmet Picnic Lunches||✔||⨯|
|Ride Snacks & Drinks||✔||✔|
|Bike Maintenance & Care||✔||✔|
|Premium Bike Rental||On Request||✔|
|Expert Bike Fit||On Request||✔|
|Garmin GPS & Route Notes||✔||✔|
|On Trip Support||✔||✔|
|First Aid Cover||✔||✔|
All small group guided bike tours are led by two qualified and experienced Wilderness guides. One of these guides will cycle on the road with you each day. They will provide guidance and share local knowledge of the history, culture, landscape, flora and fauna.
Your other guide acts as an all-round trip wizard. They will drive the support vehicle, shuttle your luggage and prepare gourmet refreshment stops. They’re also on hand to serve as your bike mechanic, take care of essential tour arrangements, and much more.
Self guided plus+ cycling trips are supported rather than guided. A dedicated member of the Wilderness team will be on hand throughout your trip, performing the role of “soigneur”. They will take care of all the trip logistics, but they won’t be cycling with you.
Throughout your self guided tour, your soigneur will drive the support vehicle, transfer your luggage, and provide route snacks and drinks. They will also shuttle riders where required, offer navigational advice, provide first aid and take care of your bikes at the end of the day.
Questions about trip grading, travel speed and pace on a bike trip are commonly asked no matter the bike trip chosen.
In a self guided trip, you’ll have more control over your pace, as you and your group can set your own pace for the whole day. If you want to power up the hills and whizz down the descents, you won’t have to worry about outpacing anyone. If you decide to take your time and include plenty of culture breaks and photo ops, you won’t feel like you’re holding anyone back. Whether you want an early start or a leisurely breakfast, you set your own pace.
You’ll still set your own pace on a guided trip. The group isn’t obligated to travel at the same speed for the entire trip. However, there are still dedicated breaks and stopping points, such as lunch or guided activities. Additionally, the whole group will kick the day off at the same point.
By their nature, self guided trips offer an increased degree of flexibility. The itinerary is set, but there is a wiggle room. Pedalling past a fascinating historical site that you’d like to check out? Want a few extra coffee breaks to refuel? Are you planning on plenty of photo ops? Self guided bike tours might be for you.
Guided trips offer a little less individual flexibility, as you’ll be travelling in a group of around eight people. Of course, guided trips are accompanied by two guides. Your guides are experts at listening to the group and adapting the trip to meet the group’s interests.
How you prefer to travel is a significant consideration between guided and self guided trips.
Choosing a self guided bike trip means you’ll only be travelling alongside your private group. Some travellers might prefer this option to pedalling along with lesser-known cyclists. It is worth noting that we run self guided cycling trips on fixed dates. This means that there may be other private groups of cyclists travelling along the same route as you on the same days.
Our small group bike trips have up to eight cyclists on them. You might travel with eight other people if you are a solo traveller. Normally, the social element of cycling with like-minded travellers on the same trip offers a great social experience. Of course, it depends on what you want to get out of your trip.
For safety reasons, we can’t run self guided trips for solo travellers. If you are planning to travel alone, take a look at our range of small group bike trips.
No one wants to get lost, especially not while on holiday. Instead, you want to spend your time exploring, discovering and immersing yourself in the scenery and culture of the land.
Every cyclist on every bike trip is given a bike computer to attach to their handlebars. This contains a map, route directions and general information to help you navigate.
The difference, of course, is the guides. On a guided bike trip, you’ll have two guides; one on the road with you and the other driving the support van. While you’ll have the route mapped out on your device to follow and consult when approaching a turn, you’ll also have someone on the road with you.
On a self guided trip, you will still benefit from a support driver who is a qualified bike mechanic. However, without a guide on the road with you, you’ll be more reliant on the route mapped out on your bike computer.
Your bike guide is more than just a driver or navigator. They are also storytellers, bastions of culture and history, and full of local recommendations. From oral myths to ancient history, personal adventures to the story behind various Irish culturalisms, having a guide on the road with you adds an augmented element of immersion.
Self guided bike trips don’t benefit from this level of local knowledge. While your support driver will be on hand to answer your questions in the evenings, you won’t get the ad hoc stories and tales elicited from the landscapes as you pedal through them.
We have three bike types: road bikes, hybrid bikes and e-bikes. All are produced by the renowned bike retailer, Trek. No matter your trip type, your bike rental choices will be the same. This is also true of all accompanying materials, such as helmets, saddle bags, and bike computers. Learn more about bike hire here.
Ireland has an up-and-coming foodie culture. There is an increasing number of farm-to-fork, organic, creative and sustainable eateries. And, of course, a plethora of cosy pubs and cafes where the food is warm and cosy, perfect for a bike tour. No matter which trip you book, you’ll taste Ireland’s best culinary delights.
Similar to the food, no matter which trip you choose, we know where you rest your head is important. Whether you choose guided or self guided+, enjoy a place of comfort and relaxation after a day of cycling to rejuvenate for your next day’s cycle.
All guided and self guided trips have dedicated office support and 24/7 in-country support, should you need it. Your vacation should be a time of discovery and relaxation, so leave all the organisation to us. Sit back in the saddle and focus on having the time of your life while we sweat the details.
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