Frequently Asked Questions
Can I speak with someone in my area who has completed one of your tours?
Of course! Many of our former riders are more than happy to answer questions and share their experiences. Contact our office and we will attempt to put you in touch with one of our alumni riders in your area.
Do you have a brochure or info kit I could read?
Yes we do. Click here to download our TDA Tours 101: Information Kit and find out why you should start planning your next big cycling adventure with us.
Why are you called TDA Global Cycling?
Are you wondering where the name “TDA” came from? Good question!
Our original flagship tour was the Tour d’Afrique, and that was the original name of our company. In 2015, we became TDA Global Cycling to reflect our growing portfolio of tours all over the world – not just in Africa. Read more about our name change here.
All our tours grew out of the style and adventurous spirit of our four month odyssey of the African continent in 2003. So whether you are spending two weeks with us in Western Europe, or considering a multi-month transcontinental journey with us through exotic South America or mysterious Asia: we use our years of experience and boundless curiosity to offer you the cycling experience of a lifetime.
Who runs the tours?
We do. Unlike some companies with middlemen, and sales agents, we do it all. We dream up the tours, research the routes, collect data and scout the length of the journey, share the wonderful details with you, and then run the tours with a combination of our experienced year round staff, contract staff, and local staff in the countries the tour travels through.
This continuity – from registration through to your final pedal strokes on tour – means that we control the quality and experience to a greater degree, and we believe this results in a more enjoyable, professional and unique experience.
Our permanent staff members are avid cyclists, outdoor enthusiasts, travelers, and adventurers. We have created a series of transcontinental and shorter cycling tours on “roads less travelled” that offer unique challenges and experiences to biking enthusiasts and fellow explorers from around the world. Please visit our about us page to see what we look like.
How do I decide which tour I want to join?
That’s never easy. We have lots of amazing tours in every corner of the globe. Here are 3 great ways to help you decide:
- Use Tour Finder – our tool to help you decide which tour by choosing the length, and location of your choice.
- Use our ratings scale – Each tour has 3 ratings – the difficulty, the accommodations, and the ‘far-out’ factor. Read how we define the different levels of each tour and see which one suits you.
- Compare the tours – In our Information Kit, you can see all our tours compared in one simple chart.
- Do some of your own research – We also encourage people to gather their own information about the tours: check out country profiles and current news on the region; talk to former riders and browse through their blogs; ask us; read tour descriptions and research the route online.
What services do you provide to your clients?
Please read about our services on our ‘What to Expect’ page. Here we describe in detail all that we provide to you.
You should also review the ‘What’s Included’ tab found on each tour page which tells you how many days the tour is, what type and how many nights accommodations are included, and type and quantity of meals included also.
How difficult are these tours?
Our tours accommodate a wide range of cycling abilities. Each tour is rated for accommodation type, and difficulty. Please refer to our ratings on each tour page, and read about what the ratings mean here.
What is 7 Epics?
You may notice a reference to 7 Epics on certain tour pages. 7 Epics is a global cycling challenge created by us that combines our 7 most epic cycling expeditions into one giant challenge. It is 7 very long bicycle tours that cross entire continents, thread through 50 countries, and circumnavigate the globe, twice, when combined. Completing all 60,000 km of 7Epics is the adventure cyclist’s ultimate bucket list. Read more about it by visiting the 7Epics website – www.7epics.com
How do I know if a cycle tour is for me?
If you are aged 18 to 69, and in good health, our tours are for you! If you are over 69 there is still a good chance these tours are for you (just an extra form to sign). Whether you like to take it easy, and cruise through different countries and cultures, or fly at your top speed, we have room for you. We like to make these tours as inclusive as possible and you’re free to ride at your own pace.
What are the costs?
How much does a tour cost?
Please refer to the individual tour pages for details on pricing, including the full tour and sectional entry fees. In general, the tours range in price from $150 to $350 US/day (100 to 300 €) depending on where in the world they are run and whether they are mostly camping, or all hotels.
Why do I have to pay $150 US to register?
The registration fee holds your place on the tour until the entry fee is due. This also unlocks your myTours registration portal where you’ll have access to all your forms, and loads of useful information that is crucial to your preparation for the tour. Please remember that the registration fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.
What other expenses will I likely have before and during the tour?
- Flights to and from the tour
- Bicycle, spare parts, gear & accessories that you buy
- Equipment including tent, camping mattress and sleeping bag (for camping tours)
- Travel/health insurance (required for all tours)
- Trip cancellation/interruption and baggage insurance (highly recommended)
- Vaccinations (where applicable)
- Personal electronics, medical supplies, and any other personal needs
- Entry visas (where applicable)
- Food on rest days plus dinner on nights before rest days
- Souvenirs (optional)
- Gratuities for field staff (optional)
How much spending money should I bring?
A good starting point is to bring $50 – 100 US (40 – 80 €) for every week you will be on tour with us.
What currency should I use, what about traveller’s checks and credit cards?
The US dollar is often the best currency to carry with you (with the exception of our European tours where the Euro is most practical). Make sure all bills are newer than 2003 with no tears or damage to them. Arriving with US or Euro currency, you’ll be able to change to the local currency upon arrival as needed. Besides in western Europe, travellers checks are not recommended as they become more and more difficult to cash in. Credit and Debit cards can sometimes be used to get local currency from ATM machines. Be sure to call your bank and tell them where you are travelling or they may flag your card as stolen.
Health & Safety
Is it safe?
The short answer is yes. As with all travel to unfamiliar territory it is important to respect the local culture and people and to observe the law. Your greatest hazard is motorized vehicles, as it is for cyclists everywhere, so practicing defensive cycling and wearing appropriate safety/visibility gear is essential.
We do a lot of research, planning, and work with local contacts in the areas that the tour passes through. Through all of this, we make educated choices on the best and safest routes to take. At times, this means we need to reroute the tour to continue on schedule. Our tours in Europe and North America are less prone to these sort of measures, and the routes remain more consistent.
What if I get sick or injured?
Our vehicle can carry a limited number of riders and bikes. If you are sick or injured and cannot ride for a day or two you have the option to ride in our vehicles. At times, we have medics on our tours in more remote places where access to emergency services are limited. Medics are there to help with minor scrapes and bruises, and to assist in the event of an emergency. We make every reasonable attempt to maintain the health and hygiene of our camps and lunch stations, but illness can still occur. If you do become ill, consulting with the tour staff and local medical clinics early on will ensure that you get back to cycling as soon as possible. More information on health and medical issues will be provided to registered riders closer to the start of the tour.
Do I need shots and vaccinations?
It is best to double check with your doctor or travel medicine centre to see if they have any recommendations for vaccinations or medications to consider for the countries through which the tour travels. They have the most up to date information on this.
Do I need travel insurance?
Yes, travel medical insurance is required to participate on our tours. It is highly recommended that you consider getting baggage insurance and trip cancellation insurance, in the event that you have to leave the tour unexpectedly.
Where do you offer tours?
We have tours on 6 continents and in over 80 countries. Our main tours are all broken up into smaller 2 – 4 week segments or sections where participants not able to do the full expedition can join for a shorter length.
Will I have time to enjoy some of the interesting places along the route?
Absolutely! The tour has been designed to enable riders to explore some of the most fascinating places in the world on their rest days. And since the average biking day will be five to seven hours, there will often be plenty of time to explore the local environment on riding days as well.
Not the whole tour?
I’m not interested in ‘Global Bicycle Expeditions’ I just want a 2-3 week cycling vacation.
Great! We do that too. Be part of our epic journeys for a 2 – 3 week section. Let us help you choose a section and dates in an area that you’re most interested in, or at a difficulty level suited to your fitness.
What about the relay teams - how does it work?
Relay teams are corporate or club teams wherein each member rides a section of the trip. The team can be composed of as little as three or as many as eight members who will exchange a symbolic “baton” in the towns and cities that mark the end of one section and the beginning of the next.
How do I know where to meet the group?
Our head office staff will give you the details of where the group is staying close to your date of departure. Though we do not normally do airport pickups, we will advise you on how best to get from the airport to the campsite or hotel.
How can I know which section is right for me?
Our website is full of great information on each section, including dates, terrain, highlights, and ratings for difficulty, accommodation type, and the ‘far-out factor’. This should give you a good sense of what the different tour sections entail. If you are unsure of which section or sections to choose, please contact our staff who will gladly give you their recommendations. Or check out Tour Finder – where you can search by length, and location to find a section for you.
Preparing for a tour
What kind of bike should I bring?
This is easily the most common question we get asked by people contemplating a ride with us. Given the mixture of terrain you can expect on many of our tours – from smooth tarmac two-lane roads, to rutted and muddy tracks in the countryside, and everything in between – choosing an appropriate bike for the tour is no easy task.
Here are the three principal options, in our opinion:
Mountain Bike with Front Suspension
A hard tail mountain bike is the most versatile choice, as it provides suspension for the off roads, relative comfort, and with a thinner set of tires it also provides a decent ride on paved roads. The drawback is that with smaller diameter tires and front suspension, it will be a little slower, a little heavier, and a little less efficient than other bikes on pavement. Having locking front suspension is useful, as you can “lock out” on the smooth roads and engage the suspension on the rougher roads. Some mountain bikes come in ‘29er’ size – meaning the wheel diameter is larger, like a cyclocross bike, giving you a little added momentum on the rough roads. This is a common choice on our most difficult of tours.
Cyclocross or Touring Bike
This option is becoming more and more popular among our clients, as it combines the ruggedness of a mountain bike, with the speed and efficiency of a road bike. With slick tires these bikes are fast on the good roads. A word of warning though! While cyclocross/touring bikes do accommodate wider off road tires they do not have suspension, and riders will be seriously challenged on the rougher off-road sections. Cyclocross bikes are recommended for relatively fit and strong people who can handle the abuse of the rough roads while benefitting from the increased performance on the good roads. Make sure that your cyclocross bike can accommodate wider tires. Ideally you should be able to fit a tire that measures 700 x 40. These wider tires will help provide a bit of comfort and traction on the rough roads. For our tours that are mostly on paved roads, this is a great option also.
This bike has the same wheel size as a cyclocross bike, but with straight handlebars instead of road style drop bars. Hybrids often also have front suspension and suspension in the seatpost. Hybrids are designed more for comfort and leisure rather than performance, and have more of an upright sitting position. This is a very popular style of bike for our North American and European tours, but also works for our other tours.
We always preach to riders that simplicity and durability are best because the availability of replacement parts is greatly limited in most of the countries on our tours, and our mechanics will not have some of the tools or skills to work with complex or unusual assemblies. A steel frame is preferred (if not steel than aluminum is the best choice), with simple components, simple suspension, and no hydraulics.
Still not sure? It’s not an easy choice, so send us an email and we will help you figure it out.
Do you rent bicycles?
TDA does not rent bicycles. Logistically, it is not possible for us, as we are not doing circular routes where bicycles can be easily picked up / dropped off at a central base. Our tours cross entire continents; so to get a fleet of rental bikes to the start line and back again after the tour is not feasible.
All of our participants have used their own bicycles on the tours. For those who haven’t traveled by air with their bikes before, it may appear challenging, but it isn’t that bad. Click here to read our 10 Tips For Flying With Your Bicycle.
Over the years, a few participants have purchased a bike in the starting city of the tour, rather than fly with a bike to the start city. Depending on the tour and the city where it starts, and with a bit of pre-tour research, this can usually be accomplished in a day.
How can I make my bike more comfortable and practical for the tour?
- For bikes that do not have any suspension, the purchase and installation of a suspension seatpost like the Cane Creek Thudbuster will save your butt on the roughest days.
- Make sure you have a good seat that is comfortable for you. You might have to try out different styles of seats on longer rides in order to gauge which is best for you.
- There are lots of ways to carry your limited gear for the day (tools, spare tube(s), camera etc) on your bike including handlebar bags, rear rack bags, etc. One of the best products on the market is the Arkel Tailrider bag. Check it out.
- If your drive train has more than 1000 km on it, make sure you have it replaced, including the rear cassette, derailleurs, chain, and front chain rings, prior to the tour.
- Lists of the recommended spare parts and pre Tour services that your bike should have are provided to registered clients in our Rider Bulletins.
- You should consider some puncture resistant tires, a narrower set for road days and a wider set with more traction for off road days. The most popular brand is Schwalbe Marathon Plus.
How do I transport my bicycle to the starting point and back home after the tour?
Many airlines now charge a set oversize or sports equipment fee for bike boxes ($ or Euros 100-150 is typical) which you should anticipate paying upon check-in with the airline. Other airlines will simply consider your bike box as your 2nd or 3rd piece of checked luggage and charge you accordingly. You should verify these rules directly with your airline. Most bike stores will be able to help you package your bike in a cardboard bike box for the flight. If you prefer to do it yourself, click here to take a look at our detailed video and step-by-step instructions. We generally recycle the boxes of participants who join the tour along the way. Otherwise, we will locate a cardboard box for you at a local bicycle store or elsewhere at the end of the tour. Please note no bicycle hard cases are allowed on tour as space is limited. You can also read our 10 Tips For Flying With Your Bicycle.
What kind of training should I undertake?
The most common thing that interrupts riding on tour is soreness. Sore knees, sore backs, sore butts…. The best way to combat this is to ride regularly in the run up to the tour. At a minimum we suggest you start some dedicated training 3 months before the tour starts.
Riding at least three times a week for a minimum of one hour each time. This could be in the form of cross training or bike rides at a steady pace. This will get you to the tour start with a base of fitness and well adjusted to your bike. More detailed training information is provided to registered riders, or you can read more here.
Are these races or cycling tours?
From 2003 to 2017, the Tour d’Afrique was both a competitive cycling race attracting talented athletes, and an expedition for individuals whose intention is to traverse the continent at a more comfortable pace. However, due to declining interest, the racing component will no longer be offered. All our other tours are untimed, and riders cycle at their own comfortable pace, and beginning in 2018 this will apply to the Tour d’Afrique as well.
Whatever your aim, we like to think of these tours simply as personal challenges. All of us challenge ourselves in different ways. Some measure themselves against others, some against their personal best, some want to do something that has never been done before, and some want to make the world a better place for future generations.
While on tour
Who carries the luggage?
Our support vehicles will carry your luggage. We ask that you will be able to carry 4 liters of water, snack food, a mini tool, spare tube, patch kit and pump with you on the bike. Everything else will be carried in our vehicles.
What will I eat?
The food on tour will be prepared by a qualified chef (with the exception of our all-hotel tours where meals are in restaurants) with experience working in a tour environment. We know how important food is to cyclists – especially those undertaking our long tours, so we always make the meals nutritious and plentiful – and tasty as well! Typically, on riding days there are 3 meals including a roadside lunch. On the non-riding days (or rest days), the group usually disperses into town and find their own food locally – there are no group meals in the evening before and on the day of the non-riding day.
Here are a few food related blog posts to whet your appetite:
What are rest days?
Typical our ‘weeks’ on the tour are anywhere from 3 – 8 riding days long. On our longer tours, these riding weeks are normally on the longer side. These are followed by a day off the bike, normally in a touristic hotspot or a comfortable relaxing place to rest your sore muscles. The term ‘rest’ can be misleading as many riders fill their day with sightseeing, laundry, internet, and other activities. On the night of arrival to a rest day town and during the rest day there are no group meals.
How will I know the route?
Each evening we will hold a rider meeting to go over the next day’s route. We will also mark the route with flagging tape each day. We also provide GPX tracks on certain routes. On most days, there will be a sweep rider at the back to keep an eye out for problems. However, these are self-guided tours with support, which means we recommend that you bring your own maps and that you familiarize yourself with the area that you will be cycling through and be ready to do some of your own navigation during the riding day.
Where do I sleep?
Accommodations on the tours are usually a combination of primitive camps, organized campsites and budget hotels, right up to forts and palaces. Some of our tours are entirely in hotels (such as the Hippie Trail, the Ruta Maya, and the Bamboo Road). But many of them are a mix of camping and hotels. The Tour d’Afrique is the only tour that is entirely camping. When primitive camping in remote areas we will provide water for drinking and cooking but not necessarily for bathing. At organized campsites there will always be running water and toilets. Hotels are booked with two riders to a room. We do our best to match up compatible roommates. Visit the ‘What’s Included’ page for each tour to see how many nights are in hotels and how many nights are camping.
What is a typical day like?
- Wake up around dawn and pack your bag, coffee should soon be ready.
- Breakfast is served – usually fruit, oatmeal, muesli, bread and butter/jam. (or hotel breakfast for hotel tours)
- Breakfast is 30 minutes long, just before breakfast is over the lunch vehicle will depart to flag the route and set up lunch at a little over halfway through the day’s ride.
- After breakfast – get on your bike and ride!
- Staff cleans up and packs the lead/baggage vehicle (bags and equipment at campsites)
- A staff member will ride “sweep”
- The lead/baggage vehicle will pass you at some point in the morning and toot the horn to make sure you are OK. Give us a thumbs up if you are OK, a thumbs down if you need some help
- Just past the halfway point: lunch
- After lunch – continue riding, the lunch van will pass the group on the afternoon ride
- Arrive in camp or at the hotel – get your bag and set up your tent (or find your room), and relax
- Rider meeting – to go over the day’s events and the next day’s route
- Dinner immediately after the rider meeting
- After dinner 2 riders are assigned to dish duty, help the chef clean up (in campsites only)
- Relax, read, socialize, laugh… until you are ready to go to bed
- Repeat. This is the dream life!
Who fixes my bike?
We will have a mechanic on tour who can handle basic repairs and adjustments at no charge. More serious issues will be taken to local bike shops along the route (if possible) and we also expect the riders to come with some basic knowledge of how to fix a flat tire and how to clean their bicycle.
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