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 Starter 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.
Read more: Why Ride with TDA?
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.
- Review our 3 main tour categories: Touring, Adventure, and Expedition
- 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?
You should also review each individual 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?
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
Are these races or cycling tours?
These are cycling tours and incredible 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.
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, as of 2018 including Tour d’Afrique.
Will I have time to enjoy some of the interesting places along the route?
Absolutely! The tours have 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.
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.
All about bikes
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.
This blog covers this topic in detail. Here are the three principal options, in our opinion:
BIKES WITH DROP BARS
A ‘touring bike’ is, as expected, one of the most common choices. These bikes are designed to cover long distances, to be very durable, and to carry lots of gear. On a supported cycle tour, while you won’t use the full extent of these capabilities, a touring bike is always a good choice.
The next kind of bike is what we call a cyclocross or gravel bike. There are differences between these two categories, but overall are somewhat comparable. These may appear at first to be similar to a touring bike, but are typically designed a bit more for speed than for comfort and durability. They are a good choice for anyone used to riding a road bike, but who needs something a bit burlier for a tour.
Note that we do not recommend narrow tire road racing bikes for any of our tours.
BIKES WITH FLAT BARS
People often don’t think of hybrids as a good choice for touring. They are certainly not designed to the same level of durability and capability of touring bikes, but for supported cycle tours, they can be a good choice. A hybrid with a flat bar is a good choice for anyone who likes a comfortable, upright position, or who ‘just wants a bike’. They are also often available with front suspension.
A hardtail mountain bike can also be a good option. It is a particularly good choice for any tour where extended portions of the route will be on dirt roads. And for paved sections, you can easily switch back to a thinner set of tires to regain some speed.
Still not sure? It’s not an easy choice, so send us an email and we will help you figure it out.
Do you allow e-bikes on your tours?
The answer to this question is dependent on which tour you are considering. Typically the answer is yes for our hotel to hotel tours, and no for our camping tours. However please check with our office before registering with an e-bike.
A few other points regarding e-bikes to consider if you are planning to bring one:
- It has to be pedal assist. No e-scooter, or non-pedalling type electric machines allowed.
- Our mechanic on tour is not able to fix any electrical / battery issues. They can only assist you with trouble-shooting.
- The battery should be able to last for the full day’s ride (our office can give you an example of a tougher / longer day on tour). As with all riders on the tour, it is the expectation that you will cycle full days. Seating space on our tour vehicles is limited, and is first held for ill or injured participants.
- E-bike batteries cannot be carried as regular luggage on airplanes. You will likely need to send it separately as cargo.
- You should already be experienced riding an e-bike before the tour. Take into account that e-bikes are heavier, and can be quicker, and so crashes involving e-bikes tend to have more serious consequences.
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 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 will provide a cardboard box for you at the end of the tour and our mechanic will gladly help you pack it up for the flight home. Please note that no bicycle cases are allowed on tour as space is limited. You can also read our 10 Tips For Flying With Your Bicycle.
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.
Health & Safety
Is it safe?
The short answer is yes, but as with any travel there is a certain level of risk that everyone needs to accept. It is important to respect the local culture and people and to observe the law while travelling. 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.
For more discussion on risk, you may find these blogs useful:
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. If you 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.
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.
Not the whole tour?
I’m not interested in global cycling expeditions I just want a 2-3 week cycling vacation.
Great! We do that too. Be part of our epic journeys for a 2 – 4 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.
Can I do a smaller part of a section?
Yes, in most cases we allow people to start or finish their ride midway through one of our pre-defined sections. We simply give you the prorated price for the number of days that you’ll be with the tour. Please contact us for more details.
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, 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.
While on tour
Who carries the luggage?
Our support vehicles will carry your luggage. We ask that you be able to carry 4 liters of water, snack food, a multi 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 town and during the rest day there are no group meals.
How will I know the route?
We typically have a rider briefing before dinner to discuss the turn-by-turn details of the following day’s ride, as well as highlights to look out for along the route, any hazards to expect, road conditions, accommodation information for the next day, and other topics which will help you prepare for the ride and keep you on track.
In the weeks before the tour, you will receive the GPS tracks for each stage through the Ride with GPS app, which you can use on your smartphone or GPS device. These GPS tracks also include the turn by turn directions, and these can be printed and brought with you to the tour, as well as copies of each day’s route in map form, along with elevation profiles.
We do recommend 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 as well.
Where do I sleep?
Our tours have a wide range of accommodations from primitive roadside camps, organized campsites and budget hotels, right up to forts and palaces. Some of our tours are entirely in hotels (read more about our Hotel-to-Hotel tours), while many others 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. At organized campsites there will always be running water and toilets. The majority of hotels are booked with two riders to a room. We do our best to match up compatible roommates. On each individual tour page you can see how many nights are camping and how many are hotels.
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” at or near the back of the group, assisting cyclists and communicating with other staff by phone if vehicle or other support is needed.
- 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!
Read more about what to expect on a TDA tour.
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.
More Tours Postponed, But Bike Touring is Alive and Well
There is a day in the not too distant future where a group of TDA cyclists will roll out…
UPDATED June 5, 2020 BY
Cycling in the Time of the Pandemic
David Houghton has participated in the Tour d'Afrique, Ruta Maya and Magical Madagascar cycling expeditions. He is the author…
UPDATED June 3, 2020 BY
TDA Reports From The Field: COVID-19 & Human Rights In Nairobi, Kenya
Mark Wambui worked with TDA Global Cycling as a Content Creator on the 2019 Magical Madagascar Cycling Expedition. It…
UPDATED June 1, 2020 BY