The 20th annual Colorado Bicycle Tour will set out in the Rocky Mountains this June. The weeklong tour covers 394 miles in a loop circuit and visits six Colorado towns while cyclists make their way through some of the best scenery the Rocky Mountains have to offer. The Colorado Bicycle Tour is a fully supported event, with camping accommodations; baggage transportation; marked routes; snack, water and medical stations; and bicycle repair services. But for cyclists who are not able to join in with the Tour or who simply want to set out on their own, the route can be ridden at any time, depending on weather and road conditions. Many cyclists plan such trips as “rolling vacations,” and it’s possible to do on your own as well as on a supported tour such as the Colorado Bicycle Tour. But before you set out on your own tour, here are some of the things you’ll need to think about and plan for.

Colorado Cycling Law and Safety

For out-of-state cyclists or in-state riders who haven’t tackled a cycling road tour before, knowing the rules of the road before you go is essential for both safety and to obey the law. Cyclists in Colorado need to consider themselves as driving a vehicle, and they must share the road with both motor vehicles and pedestrians. Cyclists need to obey all traffic signs and signals as well as all traffic laws the same as if they were driving motor vehicles. This means that cyclists need to give way for pedestrians.

Cyclists need to ride with traffic on the right side of the road and as far to the right as possible, which provides cyclists with as much of a buffer from traffic as possible. On paths that are designated for multi-use, ride on the right side and give warning when overtaking other riders, walkers or runners before passing to avoid accidents. Calling out “passing” or “on your left” or ringing a bike bell before passing is usually sufficient warning.

Cyclists may ride two abreast, as long as doing so does not hinder the flow of traffic. Ride single file to allow other vehicles to pass you. While on a bike tour, especially if you are riding on curving roads or rural roads without shoulders, use good judgment. It may be tempting to ride alongside a cycling companion, but you should only do so where you are sure it’s safe, where you are both visible to other vehicles, and where vehicles have room to pass you.

Planning a Long Tour

If you have never taken a long bike tour, it can be a great adventure – but you need to be prepared ahead of time to make sure you can handle whatever happens. Good preparation and planning will get you through many difficult situations. For a Colorado bike tour, along with making sure that you have all of the gear you need, you will also need to deal with riding at high elevations and on potentially difficult roads, full of steep inclines and sharp turns.

Riding at high elevations, especially if you are coming from a significantly lower elevation, means you may need to take it easy. With less oxygen in the air, heart rate and breathing naturally increase, and you will feel tired or out of breath much more quickly than at lower elevations. It may take your body a few days to acclimatize to the altitude, and some people experience dizziness, headache and poor sleep along with fatigue. If you feel such signs, it’s better to take it easy rather than to push your luck on the road. If you have never cycled at high altitude, try a shorter trip to see how it affects you before you plan for any long trips.

Taking a cycle tour can make for a great getaway, and Colorado provides wonderful opportunities to enjoy fresh air and unbeatable scenery. If you want to do a bike tour in the Rocky Mountains, be sure to plan for success and obey the rules of the road to get the most out of your cycling experience.