Tempted by a cycling microadventure but not sure how to prepare for this new experience? Follow the guide!
Tempted by a cycling microadventure but not sure how to prepare for this new experience? Follow the guide!On this page, you'll find all sorts of great ideas so you can set off with peace of mind, plus some handy tips from Caroline Segoni, a seasoned cycling microadventurer who blogs about her family's escapades on her Graines de Baroudeurs blog!
As Caroline explains, "you don't need to go all the way to the other side of the country for a change of scene. You just need to break up your normal routine and go somewhere you haven't been before". And that, in a nutshell, is the whole idea behind the microadventure! The concept ‒ invented by a British adventurer in the early 2010s ‒ is simply to take a short tour not far from home. It started to spread to France around the end of the decade and has exploded since 2020, with the repeated lockdowns making people keener than ever to get away from it all. Although microadventuring can refer to any kind of journey, cycling is a popular choice, especially among families.
"Often, you don't even need to come up with a route by yourself," says Caroline. "France is bursting with dedicated infrastructure, well-signposted routes and traffic-free cycling paths". If you're relatively new to cycling with kids, we recommend following official cycling routes. These itineraries tend to be well marked and are easily accessible, making them perfect for family bike rides. Cruise through the Loire, ride from Norway to Spain, take the Atlantic Coast Route, travel from Paris to Mont St-Michel, or enjoy the Via Allier or Via Rhôna. France alone has some 25,000 km of cycling routes. So you're sure to find something that suits you without travelling too far!
If you're feeling particularly brave, you might want to have a go at one of the Eurovelo routes that cross Europe, or the Avenue Verte from London to Paris. There really is something for everyone!
The aim of the microadventure isn't to cycle the entire length of one of these routes, but to just do part of one, either by setting off straight from your front door if you happen to live near the network, or by taking another means of transport to get to the start of your ride (trains tend to be a useful bike-friendly option).
Whether you're heading off for one night or a whole weekend, there are so many places to go that it can be hard figuring out what your options are!
"For families, it's worth checking the France Vélo Tourisme and AF3V websites for details about the cycling network. These websites list all of the signposted routes and give a rating for how hard they are. They're a great source of information!" says Caroline, who often uses them herself. "You can also contact the local tourist office. They'll have lots of guides and will be able to advise you on local points of interest."
Both types of hybrid bike are perfect for touring, especially if you're heading out for several days.
Electric bikes make microadventuring accessible to pretty much everyone. They allow you to go further and faster than you otherwise would, without over-exerting yourself. But remember to check that your route has charging options before you set off!
If you choose to ride a classic hybrid bike (entirely human-powered), then you have an incredibly wide range of models to choose from! These bikes are easy to equip with accessories that will make your microadventure easier: pannier racks, bags, child trailers, phone holders, etc.
Click here to find out how to choose your hybrid bike.
Your adventure is sure to be full of surprises ‒ both good and bad. To avoid getting caught out, any experienced microadventurer will tell you that you need to identify potential dangers and pitfalls before you go, so that you can head them off and be fully ready to deal with them should they occur.
" There's no such thing as zero risk," admits Caroline. "That said, you shouldn't avoid travelling for fear of something going wrong! The key to a successful first microadventure lies in the forward planning. I recommend starting by plotting a route that's suitable for your fellow cyclists' fitness levels so that nobody gets overly tired, which is the exact opposite of what you're aiming for! Pay special attention to safety as well, both in terms of bike and cyclist equipment and in terms of the rules of the road. Kids don't have the same concept of danger as adults. So it's essential to explain all the safety precautions they need to take using words that they can understand, and to remind them frequently. Lastly, think about what possible accidents could happen and kit yourself out accordingly so that you can better manage the situation if anything goes wrong."
What type of terrain are you planning to ride on? How far are you going to go? How much weight will you be carrying? How self-sufficient do you want to be? Do you need to tow a trailer? There are so many questions to think about when choosing the right bike!
The first thing to consider is the type of terrain you'll be cycling on. Some bikes are better for paved cycling paths, while others are better for riding on stony, off-road trails. You should also choose the size of your wheels and tyres based on the terrain you'll be on. You'll then need to determine how much luggage and weight you'll be carrying, which will depend on the length of your trip and how self-sufficient you want to be. Here's another tip from Caroline: "remember to test the bike you're planning to buy to make sure the riding position is right for you. Whether you'll be riding for several hours or several days, it's vital to be comfortable so that you can fully enjoy the experience!".
For more help with all this, take a look at our article on how to choose your touring bike.
Hotels, guest houses, campsites, and even your own home are all perfectly valid for microadventuring! It's entirely up to you to pick the accommodation option that works best for you, based on what's available where you're going. Your bike set-up might also dictate your accommodation options. A night camping under the stars might tempt the more adventurous of you, but it means lugging around your tent and all your camping equipment! Once again, it's about planning ahead!
And anyway, you can always have a last-minute change of plan, as Caroline explains: "when we were doing our tour of France, we were overwhelmed by people's hospitality. I remember this one time when we were at a market stocking up on supplies and a stranger came up to us and gave us a piece of paper with his address written on it... and the keys to his house! He wanted us to go have a cup of tea at his house while we waited for him to get back! When we arrived, we didn't dare to go in, so we waited outside the front door. In the end, he was so insistent that we ended up staying the night."
Anyone who does microadventuring will tell you that things often go wrong for the silliest of reasons. So, to prevent any hiccoughs, here are a few basic tips to help you enjoy your first microadventure to the full so that you'll want to do it all over again!
TIP #1: always leave your bike somewhere safe! Bike thefts are sadly very common. That's why it's important to use a lock to secure your bike. And if possible, we recommend keeping your bike in sight at all times!
TIP #2: pack a first-aid kit! Little booboos are common, but are thankfully quick to treat if you have the essentials to hand: plasters, paracetamol, disinfectant and soothing ointment! And something we can't say often enough: keep yourself hydrated and cover your skin, as sunstroke / overheating is one of the most common problems among bike tourists.
TIP #3: check your insurance! You no doubt have various types of insurance. Before setting off on your bike ride, check your cover to make sure that your family will be protected during your journey. The odd tweak here and there will allow you to set off with complete peace of mind.
TIP #4: adapt your wardrobe! Always struggle with what clothes to pack for your holiday? When it comes to microadventuring, it's simple: think practical and pack light. Prioritise comfortable clothes for both cycling and the rest of the time. If you're going away in summer, anti-UV clothing is recommended, especially for little ones. Remember also to pack your wet-weather gear and a change of clothes. Because nobody wants to be sitting around in damp kit after a ride!
"When you set off on a family microadventure, the parents need to keep in mind that they're travelling for and with their family. It's not about performing like a pro athlete, but about spending time together as a family. The secret to a successful ride lies in not being overly ambitious and not overestimating your group's ability. Planning to do just 15 to 20 km on the first day isn't at all silly!
To come up with an itinerary that suits everyone, you'll need to take into account the elevation gain and the surface you're riding on, and adapt the route based on your children's ages and fitness levels. The aim is to have fun and not make life too difficult!
When microadventuring, your bike is your means of getting from A to B while enjoying the local area. If you're going to get your kids on board with the whole thing, plan a reward such as stopping at a playground or doing some other activity that'll motivate them to keep pedalling!
It's also really satisfying for kids to get involved in the planning. Get them involved in organising the trip by planning stops together based on their interests, or by asking them to pack their own suitcase. Our kids are always more interested in doing something that they've picked themselves!
But the thing we most enjoy about these little adventures is having a time when we connect fully with our kids. Microadventures give you the chance to make wonderful memories that you can enjoy looking back on together.
All of Caroline's microadventures can be found on the Graines de Baroudeurs blog: https://grainesdebaroudeurs.com/