Table of Contents:
It is difficult to cover all the eventualities and elements of a
program with considerable diversity in a relatively concise
document. A commonality of most of our program is that we live within
the local culture. There is a lot of diversity between cultures
around the world so we encounter a range of conditions. In many
cases we can only speak to that range. In the end, to get pleasure
from the program you will have to be adaptive, at least briefly.
– The choice of accommodation is often limited by the range of the
bicycle. Consequently, Ibike tours utilize a variety of sleeping
arrangements including, simple hotels, tourist hotels, local
housing, dormitories, village camping and tented camps. We endeavor
to select locally owned, carbon-lite, clean, friendly and secure
accommodations. We tend to steer away from A/C because of its
high energy consumption, it is not always available so it is good to
be acclimatized and it is associated with problems like noisiness or
malfunction. Rooms are generally, but not always, double
occupancy. For those who request it, we will try to match
people with roommates. In some countries plumbing, electricity
and modern services are not always available, and when seemingly
available, may be malfunctioning or nonfunctioning.
Air Transportation –
Air travel to and from the tour
is not included the program. We usually do not escort groups
during air travel. If desired, Ibike will help clients select
flights. We help program participants with our extensive
knowledge of alternative arrangements for reaching our destinations
with reliable and competitively priced services,
as well as the charges that passengers might incur bringing their
bicycles on each respective airline.
There is no extra charge to clients for the information or service. We are also willing
to help clients plan their extended travel arrangements before and
after their program.
Allowance, Regulations and Fees – Airlines have multiple baggage
allowance depending upon origins/destination and class of service.
This is covered in more depth at
www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm. Some airlines
charge a hefty fee for bikes-as-baggage on international flights (up
to $400 roundtrip) and some charge nothing, if you are otherwise
within your baggage allowance. You might want to take this into
consideration when booking your flight. If you plan to take a stand
alone intra-Africa, Asia, America or Europe flight bear in mind that
the baggage allowance may be by weight and generally much more
restrictive than the allowance for flights that include a
As the airlines increasingly reduce their baggage allowance and
increase their excess baggage surcharges, folding suitcase bikes
become a serious consideration. For more information see
– Most hotels, but not all accommodations, on Ibike programs provide
guests with linens, pillows, towels, soap, toilet paper, etc.
Because there are exceptions, on most tours it is good to have
travel-size versions of these.
Tour specific recommendations are provided in the
tour’s pre-departure materials.
See also the “pillows,”
sack,” and “towels”
– Unless otherwise noted, participants are responsible for carrying
their own belongings during the all portions of the program.
Baggage is at owners' risk throughout the program. Excess baggage
charges must be borne by individual. Unless otherwise noted the
bicycling portions of the programs are “self-contained,” which means
there is no support vehicle carrying baggage (local
transportation is generally available if people get tired). For
“self-contained” tour participants
carry their own gear on their bikes using a rear rack and
panniers. Individual gear usually averages about 20 pounds (10 kg).
If an Ibike program will be your first exposure to self-contained
bicycle touring you are not the first. The pre-departure materials
provide tips and guidance for packing for self-contained bicycle
touring and the office is available to help you and answer your
Bars – While bars are
available in some of the smallest villages in the world, Ibike tours
sometimes overnight in communities without bars
or facilities where alcoholic beverages are available. If a bar beverage
is important to you it may be necessary to plan ahead to have it
available at the desired time.
– It is the goal of the program to have water for bathing (not
always hot) available every evening. The facilities can range from
showers, to bath tubs, to outdoor enclosures with bucket baths. For
bucket baths see that heading.
– Beds differ from culture to culture. They range from very soft to
very firm and from a piece of furniture, to built-in platforms, to
mats on the ground (village stays). Where mattresses are too soft
they can be moved to the floor to increase the firmness. On programs with
village stays and non-hotel accommodations, the pre-departure
materials will provide information sleeping pads, bedding and how to
prepare for these experiences.
–For a few programs we strongly recommend packing a bed net. If this is the case it will be
reflect in the tour’s pre-departure materials. The best
design we have found is the "Travel Tent" by Long Road Travel
www.longroad.com, 1-800-359-6040 or 1-510-540-4763 or [email protected]
– Due to the nature of Ibike programs, choice
of beverages is often very limited. When beverages are available
they may not be available cooled or heated to the desired
temperature. Individuals are responsible for all of their own
beverages. Ibike's policy of not including drinks in the
package exists for
health reasons, not for financial reasons. Long ago we bought drinks
at meals. The budget and cost of the trip could easily be adjusted
to include drinks at meals. But, in the past, when Ibike bought drinks at meal there
was a tendency for people to get dehydrated waiting for us to buy
drinks at meals. If we don’t buy the drinks people are more likely
to drink throughout the day. Since the change we have has far
fewer problems with dehydration and related health issues.
Bicycle Ambassador - It helps for bicyclist to
keep in mind that whenever they are out riding, they are ambassadors
for current and future riders. It is a reality that people make
judgments about other classes of people, especially those that they
don’t encounter very often, based on the behavior of members of that
class that they have met previously, and if you are a member of a
class, people will make judgments about other members of your class
based on their interaction and observations of you. Whether it is
fair or not, it happens to bicyclists. As a bicycle traveler,
people who you meet may have formed some opinions about bicycle
travelers based on those who have come before you, and may adjust
their expectations about bicyclists who come after you based on
their experience with you. (Not by their choosing, people may also
be viewed as ambassadors for their nationality, culture, gender, age
cohort, etc.) See also bicycle
parking stacking and hotel etiquette.
fully responsible for their own bicycle and personal equipment.
Mountain-bikes, suitable for touring, work for all programs.
Suspension systems are not necessary for these programs. There are
a number of programs that lend themselves to touring bikes and
quality folding bikes. This is reflected in the “fact sheets” for
individual programs. There is
detailed information on selecting and setting up your bicycle and
equipment is sent in a pre-departure information materials. Bikes
don't have to be new. Some participants find used bikes
specifically to use on the program. Any bike should be it good
There is information on selecting a bicycle for bike touring at
All Ibike tours are regularly ridden on a Bike
“World Tourist” folding bike. While there are advantages to
multi-modal travel with a folding bike, there are also compromises;
the small wheel can drop further into holes and ruts, and alter the
inertia of the bike and shorter wheel base changes the center of
gravity to be much more over the front wheel. This is likely to
catch up with you most going downhill on a rutted gravel road.
Unless you are skilled at this, you will be better off with a full
size bike. If you are considering taking a folding bike and have
questions, please contact us.
Bicycle Donation - Some
participants have found that donating their bike at the
end of the tour before is practical (they are relieved of the need
to bring it back home). Worthy recipients are present in almost
every local. Identifying a specific recipient is not something that
needs to be arranged
in advance so you can keep your options open. If certain
parameters are followed, the donation can be made through the
International Bicycle Fund, making the donation U.S. tax-deductible
to the extent allowed by law.
Bicycle Lubrication –
During a tour the primary concern with regards to lubrication is
usually the chain. It should be kept adequately lubricated, but not
over-lubricated. This is most important on dusty roads where
excessively oiled chains will accumulate gunk. To lightly and
evenly oil a chain spread one-drop of oil individually across each
link, at the link pin. After completing this for the full length of
the chain spin the crank for a couple minutes to distribute the oil
evenly, and then dry the outer exposed surface of the link plates if
there is excessive oil. An added benefit of this procedure is it
reduces consumption of toxic chemicals.
Bicycle Parking and Stacking
– It is easy to watch bikes if they are stacked, rather than
scattered around. Scattered about they can also start to get
in the way of other folks, but also be careful not to block local
foot traffic with a large stack - sometimes they need to be divided
into two. The key to stacking bikes in to have them snugly
together, vertical with most of the weight on the wheels. If the
bikes don’t have panniers, this is usual best achieved by
alternating the directions of the handle bars. If the bicycles have
panniers it is usual best to rest the rear pannier against the main
triangle of the frame, of the adjacent bike – not pannier-to-pannier
– again, as vertically as possible.
– In most of our destinations suitable rental bikes are not reliably
available on the local market. Logistical nightmares prevent us
from supplying rental bikes to and between far-flung destinations.
Where local rental bikes are available it is reflected in the “fact
sheet” for the individual program. Generally the people who have
been most interested in rental bikes are those who wanted to do
additional travel after the program without a bike or are try to
avoid the airlines hostility towards bicyclists. The most common
solutions have been to beg or buy a modest used bike at home for the
trip, pay the airlines one-way, and then donate or sell the bike at
the end of the program. It is possible, and sometime cheaper, to buy
a bike locally, but you have to be prepared to be challenged by the
quality of the bike.
– Bicycle security is a factor in our decision making. When we stop
during rides we encourage people to stack the bikes together where
there are a lot of eyes on them and they can all easily be watched
simultaneously. When we finish the ride for the day generally bikes
are stored in hotel rooms, in a secure storage room or garage, or
locked together within the premise.
Bicycle Tour Hazards Evaluation and Control –
Bicycle touring and its associated activities (walking, bathing,
eating, drinking, etc.) expose participants to a variety of
hazards. The risk of injury from these hazards can be reduced by
training, good decisions, selecting good equipment and wearing
protective gear. We implore all bicyclists to be familiar with the
potential hazards of the activity and to actively participate in
reducing their risks. For more information see
Bicycling Difficulty and Pace
– The bicycling difficulty is moderate and designed for
generally active people. There have been a lot of participants on
the program who have never cycle toured and never done international
travel before who have thoroughly enjoyed the program. It is an
active program, but it is not an iron man competition. The
bicycling is meant to be a means to cultural immersion. If you are
in descent condition and curious about the destination you should be
able to do the program, regardless of past experience. Daily
distances average less than 40 miles (65km) per day, are usually
between 30 and 50 miles (50-80 km) per day, but may range from 20-80
miles (35-100km) per day. But distance can be misleading because a
short day with steep hills can be more difficult than a much longer
day with gentle terrain. The daily plan
is linked to road conditions, terrain and points of interest. We try
to start programs with lower mileage and let it increase as people
get in better shape and adjust to conditions. If the roads are
rough or ascending the mileage is usually lower. If the roads are
smooth or descending the mileage may be more.
It is good if you can work up to averaging approaching 10-12 mph (16-20 km/h) on
In urban areas we
generally ride as a group. In rural areas, those who want to can
ride in a group and, to the extent possible, individuals can choose
to start when they want and ride at their own pace (we would like
everyone to arrive at least a couple hours before dark.) We
strongly encourage the last two riders should always stay together
and encourage the buddy system for everyone. Information on cycling
is reflected in the “fact sheets” for individual
– Taking a bucket bath may also require some cultural sensitivity.
The bucket of water which gives you a bath may have to be carried a
quarter of a mile or more. You should be able to take a whole
bath including washing your hair with one bucket of water ‑‑ with
practice this can be reduced to a half bucket. The first
secret is to always start with your head and work down ‑‑ that is
the direction that gravity pulls the water. Note: If you use a
dipping cup in your bucket of water you can keep the water cleaner,
especially once your hands get soapy. Then if you use only a
half a bucket of water the bottom half is clean for someone else to
A couple of cups or handfuls of water on your head
and then spread down your body should be enough to get the shampoo
foaming and your body lathered‑up. You only need to get your
skin wet, not doused.
After you are damp, give yourself a good
Rinse in the same pattern you used to start with
‑‑ from the head down. Again a limited amount of water will go
further if you work the water with your hands as you follow it down
from head to toe. After a few cups of water on the head you
hair should be rinsed and you can pour cups of water on your
shoulders, then chest, back and so forth on down to your feet until
you are rinsed clean as a whistle.
– Cameras are probably unsurpassed in helping people remember and
share their experience. We encourage photographers to
bring a camera and all of the necessary supplies. In some countries it may be difficult to acquire memory cards,
batteries, etc. In some
areas a power source may not be available for several days at a
– If the program is canceled by Ibike, all moneys paid to Ibike for
services not performed in accordance with the contract between Ibike
and the participant will be refunded within fourteen days after
cancellation by Ibike, unless the participant requests that Ibike
apply the money to another program.
– There is cell phone access in every country where we do programs.
The amount of coverage differs from country to country. Because we
spend time outside of urban area it is not unusual to be outside of
coverage areas. There are two strategies for getting access; buying
a local SIM card (not an option for all phones), or setting up your
phone for international roaming. The former is generally
significantly less expensive. When members of a group have cell
phones they can be very useful for communications amongst the group.
Coffee and Tea
– It is almost unimaginable but we sometimes get beyond the
ubiquitous access to coffee and/or tea. If you are serious addicted
to these drinks you might want to make personal arrangement for a
first thing in the morning cup of caffeine. You can check with the
office to determine severity of any deprivation.
– Please see sections on
Cultural Sensitive Travel
– Most of our programs are in non-western countries. We don’t expect
travelers to embraces all cultures that they encounter, but to we
ask program participants to show consideration for the different
cultures that we interact with. Starting points include: Respect
local taboos on dress, touching and protocol. Respect photography
restrictions and sensitivity subjects. Don't give gratuitous gifts
of any kind. Don’t support immoral or illicit activities. For more
Culture Shock - Culture shock is a common way of describing the
condition of confusion and anxiety affecting a person suddenly
exposed to an alien culture or milieu. It isn't a clinical term or
medical condition and comes in a full spectrum of severity. It can
develop when an urbanite goes to a rural area, and visa-versa, or
when someone has to operate within a different and unknown culture
such as one may encounter in a foreign country. The onset may be
delayed after an initial enthusiasm, fascination and curiosity about
the new culture – the “honeymoon phase.” Over time the stress of
the differences between the home culture and the new culture can
build up. Culture shock can manifest itself in a wide range of
behaviors such as anxiety, confusion, sadness, withdrawal,
irritability, “home-sickness” (missing your home foods, family,
friends, etc), loss of appetite, compulsive eating, feeling
overwhelmed, hostility toward locals, excessive sleeping, insomnia,
excessive concern over cleanliness and health, boredom, lethargy and
depression. It is not easily self-diagnosed directly, but the
symptoms can be a signal to the underlying condition.
Because culture shock is about differences, you
can be proactive in preventing or reducing it by spending time
getting a feel for and learning about the new culture so it is not
so much of a “shock.” If the new culture speaks a different
language, learning the language (as best you can) will reduce your
alienation and difference with the new culture. The pre-departure
materials include a bibliography and other information to help you
The strategies for over coming culture shock
include; taking with people who are “bi-cultural”, making local
friends, developing a normal rhythm of life that fits the new
culture, working to understand the logic of the new culture, and
adapting a repertoire of coping skills and tools.
– There are almost as many currencies as there are countries in the
world – there are some region currency (i.e. Euro and CFA) and a few
countries us another countries currency (often the US dollar). For
most currencies in the world the rate of exchange between currencies
can change daily, but some exchange rates are set by the government
and are not adjusted to changing market conditions. Many of these
currencies are overvalued and not fully convertible. These "soft"
currencies have little or no value beyond the borders of their
country. When you change a "hard" currency into a local "soft"
currency generally you do not want to change any more than you
expect to need for your expenses while you are in the country. See
– For most people, their best access to daily news is through the
Internet, either at Internet café or through smart phones.
– At dinner or breakfast there will be a we will try to give a
briefing describing the upcoming days ride and other activities,
food and rest stops, regrouping points, difficult hills, unusual or
dangerous conditions, hazards, and tricky turns. This isn’t a
substitute for keeping your own vigilance. At the start of the
program, if you arrive anytime on or before "Day 1" you won't miss
any major scheduled activities. No major activities are scheduled
on the final day of the as well. On the final day of the tour the
scheduled activities usually end with breakfast.
– The general tenor of the program is casual. Most our destinations
tend to be more modest than North America and Europe. In most areas
“athletic” is recognized so you can were biking attire while you are
biking. But, if you wear highly specialized skin-tight bicycle
clothing, when you are away from you bike or finished with the
bicycling it is usually appropriate to pull-on something more akin
to street clothes.
For specific consideration is warranted we provide
guidance in the tour’s pre-departure materials.
– It is Ibike’s policy to support locally owned business, and buy
locally produced goods and service in the areas that we operate.
In addition a minimum of twenty percent of the tour fee goes to the
education, conservation, sustainable development and advocacy
activities of the International Bicycle Fund, local community based
organizations and other non-governmental organizations.
– Before, during and/or after meals are often opportunities for open
discussion/forums on topics of mutual interest, recaps of the day’s events, and/or presentation by the group
leader on subjects that will provide a deeper understand of thinks
you saw or will see. The format and content these events are
flexible and will often depend upon the desires and interests of the
Apparatus – There is a variety of
electricity voltage, frequency and outlet standards around the
world. If your electrical apparatus has a universal power supply
(AC 100-240V, 50/60Hz) your probably have solved two of the
variable. If not you may need a voltage adapter. The third
consideration is the configuration of the plug. Details on electrical standard are
available in the tour’s pre-departure materials or you can visit
– E-mail access tends to mirror Internet access. Please see section
– Often, English speakers expect the rest of the world to speak
English. It is in fact amazing how often that happens, but it is
also unfortunate because it puts English speakers that much further
behind and without tools when they do venture beyond the reach of
If you are in an area where English is not the
first language of the local population, start working on the local
language – foremost the greetings – as soon as you can.
If you are relying on English and it is not the
first language of your audience be prepared that the content of your
message is likely to be misunderstood and nuance is almost certain
to be lost. This will manifest itself in restaurant orders arriving
different that you expected, prices and quantities of purchases with
be misunderstood, and a thousand other ways. Develop
flexibility and patience.
If English is the only language you have, it
will help if you;
- Speaking slowly with normal stress and
- Speaking loader doesn’t improve
communications. Match your voice level with the environment and
- Using simple English, common words, with
simple sentence structure, and pauses between sentences and longer
- Avoid homonyms; words with the same sound but
- Avoid slang and
- Avoid conjunctions, “or” and double
- Avoid sounds your listener has trouble pronouncing. (e.g. for
Japanese l, r, ir)
- Be subtly redundant by paraphrasing yourself
– say the same thing a different way.
- Check understanding frequently and
creatively. Show that it is OK to admit not understanding.
- Be more patient than your audience – they the
ones struggling with a foreign language.
Practice – As human beings we are
going to consume, but we can strive to avoid wasting. The goal is to be aware and knowledgeable about
our consumptions so that it strikes a balance between minimizing
impact on resources and maximize the quality of life for ourselves
and others. The issues are a lot the same whether you are staying
at home or traveling, but there may be a few nuances when you
travel. We try to travel by bicycle. We endeavor to keep our
energy and water consumption modest. We generally select
less-energy intensive hotels. Participants can help by being aware
of their energy and water usage – turning things off when they
aren’t using them. We encourage people not to waste or spoil
food. We promote the responsible disposal of solid waste. We endeavor to follow the four “E’s” of good
environmental stewardship (reduce, repair, reuse and recycle) in all
of our activities. For tips specifically on environmentally
friendly travel see
www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/enviro-travel.pdf. For tips
on more environmentally friendly bicycling see
www.ibike.org/environment/green-bicycling.htm. See also "water."
– Final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. If payment has
not been received and no special arrangements have been made, we
reserve the right to assume withdrawal and fill the space.
– Ordinary people generally prefer gifts (hometown postcards, school
supplies, articles of clothing, your photo) to money, for small
“deeds of friendship”. Please don’t bring bags of small gifts
(candy) to distribute gratuitously. It is very detrimental to the
culture and individual’s dignity. In a family or at a school it is
best to give gift to an adult. They will know the most equitable
distribution of the item. Generally it is best to ignore begging
children. Traditionally societies’ has mechanism for helping those
truly in need. Please have a relationship and a reason behind every
gift. Guides, porters, photo subjects and others associated with
tourism generally prefer money to gifts – or both (whether they are
helpful or not). Please feel free to tip those who improve your
trip. The amount of a tip can depend upon the size of the group,
the level of responsibility of the person and how well they do their
job. See also “gratuities.”
Gratuities / Tipping– Tipping is of a personal nature; therefore, at your discretion.
For those who desire guidelines, looking around the world (cruise,
safari and tour companies in Asia, Africa and America), recommended
amounts in the tourism industry are generally $10-$15 per person per
day, to be shared by the staff/crew (ratios on luxury programs are
typically about two clients per staff). See also “gifts.”
- A fundamental tool for crossing cultural lines is the
greeting. The forms with which you meet others are extremely
important. It is generally the responsibility of the arriving
person to initiate a greeting. In the West you can enter into
routine commercial transactions without formally greeting someone,
in much of the world this would be viewed as rude and uncivil even
for a minor purchase. Information about tour specific greeting
rituals will be provided at the orientation talk at the beginning of
the tour. Please prepare yourself to learn at least a few words of
a foreign language and be ready to greet.
– When bicycling with other one of the largest risk factors is your
fellow bicyclists. It is important to you use good cycling
technique and group riding etiquette. The two critical points are
to be predictable and communicate. For more details
on group riding see
Health and Wellness
– Ibike programs involve physical activity. For the safety and
enjoyment of everyone, good physical and mental health is key to the
enjoyment of these trips. We travel in areas remote from modern
medical facilities. Participants may be required to furnish a
doctor's statement of good health. Vaccination and prophylactic
medicine may be recommended or required. Ibike provides information
and guidelines to help participants stay healthy, but is not
responsible for participant’s physical or mental health or for
medical advice prior to or during the program. Ibike reserves the
right to refuse acceptance of anyone whom it deems unsuitable for a
trip. Some Ibike programs are fairly radical immersion, but it only
lasts two weeks. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the
culture/experience please let your group leader know and s/he will
try to help you.
Ibike makes numerous decisions to avoid health and
medical issues. Participants also need to be active participants in
keeping themselves healthy. They should be knowledgeable that food,
water, insect, the sun (heat) and other vectors can lead to health
issue. At the same time not all food, water, etc, is a threat. Be
eating well, selecting safe drinking water, good exercise and good
rest, Ibike has had many 100% health programs. The group leader
will help with this.
For more information on heat related illness see
www.ibike.org/education/heat-illness.htm. For information on
traveler’s stomach see
– Participants are responsible for their own physical and mental
health. Ibike programs include strenuous physical activity in a
non-Western culture. For the safety and enjoyment of everyone, good
physical and mental health is essential for these programs. The
ability to participate by those who have any physical or mental
impairment which will impede them from active daily bicycling and/or
sight-seeing activities, or have conditions which will be aggravated
by these activities will be evaluated on an individual basis -- we
may require a statement from a physician describing the nature of
the limitations and accommodation needed. We will make a reasonable
effort to accommodate some limitations. Ibike reserves the right to
refuse acceptance of anyone whom it deems unsuitable for a trip.
Under no circumstances do we refuse acceptance based on race, creed
or sex. Vaccination(s) and prophylactic medicine(s) are required or
recommended for travel in some areas. It is recommended than an
ANSI/Snell approved bicycle helmet be worn during all bicycling
Heating and cooling
– For conservation and comfort reasons, programs are generally
scheduled in seasons with reasonably comfortable weather
conditions. In cooler locations, cold is generally a concern
overnight. Hotels in these areas generally provide adequate
blankets. In hotter location the issue is usually afternoon heat.
In these situations we try to get the group started early in the
morning so we can finish the bicycling early in the day. In
consideration of jet lag and the need to function enough to get
organized, air conditions hotels rooms may be available the first
couple days. But it is import to work to get acclimatized but air
conditioning is generally not available in rural communities.
Detailed clothing recommendations are available with the tours
– See “accommodations”
– Checking into a hotel is almost a daily occurrence. Many hotels
require at least one person per room to register. You cooperation
in having a pen and your passport handy is appreciated and will
Hotel Etiquette - Lodging is one of the
more consistent settings where bicyclists engage with the local
community. Regardless of whether they are staying at a luxury
hotel, mini-hotel, hostel, community tourism project or home-stay,
one of a bicyclists’ key concern is secure storage for their
bicycles. It is usually not too difficult, through a discussion, to
find mutually acceptable solution, though it may not always be your
first choice. Some establishments arrange for bicycles to be stored
in secure garages, courtyard or storage room, locked together in
more semi-public places, or in the client’s room.
Most bicyclists prefer the later because they
have the most control and it allows them to leave all of their
equipment attached to the bike, if they desire. Many hosts will
oblige, but it only takes a few bad experiences for an innkeeper to
take this privilege away from everyone. To help keep the option of
storing bicycles in their room open for fellow cyclists it boils
down to “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Here are
a few things you can do to maintain a good relationship with the
staff and management of the establishment:
1. Pack a rag to wipe down your bike before entering the building,
especially if you're coming in from the wet weather or off a muddy
road. Focus on keeping the tires clean so you don't lead a trail of
grit through the corridors. If you don’t have a wipe-down cloth ask
the staff if they have an old rag.
2. Avoid crowding other guests in the halls or elevator with your
bike. If there are a few people already in the elevator, let them go
and grab the next empty one. They will appreciate it, and it will
save you the problem of positioning your bike in a tight space among
3. Be aware of your chain. Don’t to let it lean or brush up against
any bedding, curtains, upholstery, or furniture.
4. If possible, avoid storing the bike on carpet. Sometimes this is
unavoidable, but if there is a tile or hardwood portion of floor,
leave your bike there. Inevitably, there will be some water or
debris that falls off your bike. Grit is much easier to clean up
from a hard floor than from carpet. In either case, especially on
carpet, it is good to slip a piece of paper or clean cloth under the
tires, especially if they are wet or dirty. It is also advantageous
to park your bike where is it not going to get bumped and coming
crashing down into furniture or gouge the wall. Private balconies
are ideal on several accounts.
5. Note where the bicycle contacts furniture or the wall, if you are
leaning it. A clean sock at the ends of the handlebar can stop it
from marring the wall. If a pannier is resting against something,
make sure the pannier is clean or separate the two objects with a
clean cloth or piece of paper. If your rack is going to be resting
against the wall it may require a more substantial protection.
6. Don't use hotel towels to clean your bike. While this can be
incredibly tempting, always keep your own rag on hand for this.
7. Don’t do maintenance on your bike that will dribble grit inside.
Even outside, pick a location for bike maintenance that won’t lead
to oily grit being tracked inside.
8. Lastly, be sure to thank the hotel staff for allowing you to
safely store your bike in your room.
– Ice is often hard to come by on some tours. If you need regular
refrigeration please contact the office to discuss any challenges
that you might confront.
Immunizations / Vaccinations – Travelers are not
allowed to enter many tropical countries without proof that they
have had specific vaccinations.
The rules and recommendations are geographically specific and can be
time and activity dependent. They fall into several
categories; required for everyone, required, depending upon status
and previous activities, recommended for everyone, and recommended
conditioned on activity, location and/or season. If you will need
immunizations, it is recommended, but not required,
that you start your shots 6 weeks before departing. Consult your
physician or travel clinic for your specific needs.
Comprehensive information is available from the International
Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers at
www.iamat.org/country_directory.cfm. Information is also
available from the World Health Organization, the Center For Disease
Control, many public health centers or consult your physician. When arranging for immunizations
call ahead for the times and location of immunization services,
because sometimes they are available only during limited hours. If
you need a number of injections plan ahead because not all of them
can be given at one time and some vaccines require a series of
doses. If you have a choice, schedule your appointments when you
won't need to be making any critical decisions or pitching a
baseball game. When you receive a vaccination have
it recorded on a yellow International Vaccination Card. Carry this
with your passport when you travel.
Tour specific immunization information is available with the tour’s pre-departure
– Personal health insurance, travel, evacuation and baggage
insurance is strongly recommended. Cycling and travel have inherent
risks. Even the most conscientious behavior does not guarantee
against illness or injury. Medical insurance is not always valid in
foreign countries. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not
provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for
health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties. Please check with your own
insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas,
the adequacy of coverage, including provision for medical
evacuation, and whether payment will be made to the overseas
hospital or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses
that you incur. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization
and/or medical evacuation to your home country can cost tens of
thousands of dollars. Some credit cards include travel insurance
when you use them to purchase an airline ticket.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad
is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs
brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad,"
available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or auto-fax:
– There is Internet access in every country where we do programs.
The amount of access differs from country to country. Because we
spend time outside of urban area it is common to have days without
access (less so if you have a smart phone.) Opportunity for
internet access may include Internet cafés, hotel business centers,
Wi-Fi access with a personal computer and smart phones. Details on Internet
access are available in the tour’s pre-departure materials or you
can contact the office.
– The land costs includes accommodations, two meals a day (usually
breakfast and dinner), leader/ guides, transfers which are part of
the program, and monument, historic site, park and museums fees, on
the itinerary. Not included in the program price are:
accommodations, meals, travel and transfers before and after the
program; excess baggage charges, all beverages, including
soft drinks, liquor, beer, coffee, tea and bottled water; airport,
security and departure taxes; passport and visa fees; vaccination;
drugs and medical expenses; insurance; single supplements; tips and
gratuities; personal items such as laundry, postage and telephone.
– To make the most of travel we always recommend that you read as
much as you can about your destination before departing. It is also
nice to have literature relevant to the location as you travel.
Because of the limitations of self-contained bicycle touring hauling
a comprehensive library is impractical. If you know you are
interest in a specific topic we encourage you to bring materials
that covers it, and you can check to see if there is something in
Ibike’s office library that can be sent with the tour.
– What is now called snail mail tends to be hard to receive during
tours. If you need to receive mail during a tour contact the office
to discuss the best strategy with respect to your program.
Many of our programs are outside of the malaria belt,
but where it is a concern this and precautions to take are included
in the tour’s pre-departure materials.
The presence of malaria is location specific. Generally this
is in geographically specific areas between the Tropics. If
malaria prophylactics are recommended for your destination, please
remember to start taking your anti‑malaria tablets before departure
as prescribed. We also provide guidance and encourage participants
to take action to reduce their exposure to mosquito bikes; sleep
under nets or with fans on, wear clothing barriers, treat clothing
with pyrethrum, etc.
Maps, GPS and Route Cue Sheets
– Because our routes change from program to program, and because of
circumstances on a program we depend upon maps and haven’t developed
databases for GPS and cue sheets. Maps are available
with the tour’s pre-departure materials.
Meals - Meals are provided at or above the local standard and often eat
family-style (a set menu, served from common dishes.) We tend
not to eat dinner at the hotels we stay at. This gets us out
into the community and spreads the economic activity. Food for
certain restrictive diets may be unavailable. Meal times
vary depending on the day’s activities. As a general rule breakfast
is about an hour after sunrise, lunch is about six hours later,
dinner is twelve hours after breakfast, and snacks are as often as
you want them. Breakfast and dinner tend to be the most
etiquette can be different in non-western cultures.
Because of cultural and language difference the process of ordering
and receiving food often works best if it is done very orderly and
systematically, with out impulsive behavior. For example it may be
best if all the meals are ordered (and sometimes allowed to be
delivered) before the process is distracted to ordering drinks. For
both meals and drinks it is often best to patiently organize and
deliver the order systematically as a group, rather than individuals
impulsively shouting demands. Late changes in orders can wreak havoc
with the whole process so it is often wise to stick with your
– Programs operate in areas remote from modern medical facilities.
Ibike provides information and guidelines to help participants stay
healthy, but assumes no responsibility for medical care or advice,
or for a participant's physical or mental health, prior to, during
or after the program.
Medical Issues and
Injuries – Please inform your tour
leader of any medical issues or injuries.
– The menu will usually reflect
the local cuisine. Variety and choice of food is often very
limited. For various reason restaurants in non-western cultures
tend not to be as flexible, accommodating or adaptable to menu substitution,
so may need to gin up some tolerance.
Vegetarian options are usually available, but food for certain
restrictive diets may be very limited or unavailable. Choice of
beverages is often very limited. See also
– Our mission is to introduce you to the diversity and complexity of
an area while being environmental friendly, culturally sensitive and
economically beneficial. For more details see
- U.S. dollars and Euros are excellent portable currency, but if
they are not the national currency of the country they can loose
their usefulness rapidly past the airport, banks in the capital
city, international chain hotels and tourism enclaves. The exchange
rate is generally slightly better for new large denomination bills
(US$50 and $100 bills) than traveler’s cheques. Large denomination
US$ and Euros generally work about equally well (except in Cuba).
It is often fastest to change money at the airport but you will
often get a better exchange rate in city. The usefulness of credit
card is can be extremely limited, although more ATM are showing up
in increasingly isolated areas – though keeping them operational
seems to be problematic. Traveler’s cheques (T/Cs) can be difficult
to cash. Often only some banks and a few big hotels will change
T/Cs. To cash T/Cs in Africa and Asia you sometimes need to show
your "purchase record" receipts -- bring them, but pack them
separately. In rural areas you will need small denominations of
local currency to make your purchases. Small denomination foreign
currency is not usually very useful, except perhaps for settling
accounts amount the group and tips at the airport. To get a sense
of exchange rates go to
www.oanda.com/currency/converter. Country specific currency
information is often included with
the pre-departure materials. See also “pocket
– Good body maintenance is very important for enjoying active
travel. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for
bicyclists. We encourage participants to eat a good breakfast. A
full breakfast (protein (eggs), carbohydrates) will do you better
than a continental breakfast (bread and coffee). Lunch is the
second most important meal of the day. Snacking while you ride is
third in importance. Ironically, dinner is usually the most
elaborate meal – go figure.
Packing List – An annotated packing list, which provide good
guidance on selecting what to bring, is part of the pre-departure
– It is very hard to identify an "average participant" or the
"average group." Past participants have ranged in age from 9 to 75
- most are between 25 and 55. We have had groups with an
average age in the 20's and we have had groups where the average age
was in the 50's, so the average age for the whole program is about
40, but that may not represent any real group. In fact, the
groups are quite "age-less" once we get going -- everybody is working on a common
venture and "age" falls by the wayside. There have been more women
than men, but some groups are all women and some groups are all men
-- we have no way to predict the mix. No aim is put on age or gender
of groups. Most, but not all, participants sign-up alone, some of
these people are single and some are married traveling without their
spouse (both men without their wives and women without their husband
-- we know the program doesn’t appeal to everyone.) The
maximum group size is usually ten participants. Participants
have originated from every continent. We will make reasonable
accommodations to enable people with special needs to participate.
Under no circumstances do we refuse acceptance based on nationality,
national origins, race, creed, color, religion, gender, or sexual
– If you are traveling to a foreign country, generally you need a
passport, and sometimes you will need a visa applied in the passport
visas.) Governments issue passports as certification of identity
and citizenship. To obtain most passports you need proof of
citizenship (birth certificate, expired passport, naturalization
paper, etc.), proof of identity, passport‑size photographs and a
fee. Passports are valid for a limited period of time so they must
be checked and renewed periodically. If you already have a
passport check to see that it is valid for at least six months.
Information on applying for or renewing a passport is available from
the passport agency of your government. If you are out of your
country of citizenship, information on passport renewal is available
from your consulate. Once you have your passport, photocopy
the personal information page and carry it separately.
– There is a lot of personal invention that can increase you
personal security; be aware of your surroundings, don’t carry or
wear any more valuables that are necessary, don’t dress
conspicuously, don’t lay valuables down in public places, be
discerning about strangers you engage and share information with,
know how to get where you are going by a safe route and means, etc.
For more tips see
– Most hotels provide pillows, but we occasional utilize
other accommodations where pillows are not provide.
One trick for creating a pillow
in a pinch is to take a small pillow case or stuff sack and stuff it
with cloths until it is sufficient to cushion your head.
– Pocket money used during a two-week tour varies between
individuals. Major expenses (lodging, two meal a day, transfers,
etc.) of the tour are covered by the tour package. Most people use
from $50 to $250 of pocket money during a tour. Examples of
expenses are lunch, drinks, postcards, postage, tips and laundry.
These are generally “small” expenses so in rural areas you need
small denomination of local currency to make your purchases. NOT
INCLUDED in this estimate are souvenirs, and transportation, lodging
and meals before and after the tour, which may be significant
($20-$200 per day). Now bring twice what you think you will need.
You can bring any extra home. In a number of areas where Ibike
offers programs credit card usefulness is extremely limited. More
guidance on this is available in the pre-departure information for
each tour. See also “money.”
– On receipt of completed registration we forward a pre-departure
packet. This contains information on: international travel, air
travel, preparing your bike, selecting personal equipment, visas,
immunization, books to read, insurance options, etc. We welcome
calls or letters if you need additional information.
– Good value and personal service are basic tenets of our program.
We try to keep our prices in line with the cost of doing business
and our desire to attract participants eager to experience culture
and environment in an intimate and sensitive fashion. Costs quoted
are based on at least six participants. There may be a 20%
surcharge for trips with less than six participants. Fares are
based on the itinerary, tariffs and exchange rates at the time of
publication. No revisions are anticipated; however, fares are
subject to adjustment in the event of alterations in currency
exchange, inflation, the imposition of surcharges or changes in the
itinerary, with the understanding that any additional expenses will
be paid by the individual participant.
Promises - If you say that
you will send an e-mail or photo, find a book or pen-pal, raise
money for a charity, or make any other promise, please keep your
– See “environmental
– Register simply by sending your name, address, phone number, name
of the program(s) and a deposit of $300 per program (of which $100
is a non-refundable registration fee). Deposit and land cost
payment may be made by check or money order. Upon receipt of your
registration a Voluntary Waiver and Release Form Liability and
Indemnity Agreement will be forwarded to you and must be signed and
returned before your registration is considered complete.
Registrations submitted less than 60 days prior to departure should
include the full program fee. Registrations received less than 30
days prior to departure will be accepted subject to availability and
a late fee of $50. Payments within 30 days of departure must be by
cashier's check or electronic transfer. Early registration is
encouraged. Due to visa and vaccination requirements, limits on
group size and the advisability of cracking the reading list,
registrations should be submitted at least 90 days prior to the
– No refund or credit is given for unused services or accommodations
or leaving a program early for whatever reason: culture shock,
inadequate physical conditioning, health, injury, etc. Refund will
not be given to anyone asked to leave the trip because he or she is,
in the opinion of tour leader, compromising the safety, security or
success of the program.
– See “environmental
– Educational value, safety, security, health, road quality,
seasonal climatic norms and riding difficulty are considered in the
construction of the itinerary. Paved and unsurfaced roads are
used. We do not engage in "sanitizing missions" to eliminate all
environmental dangers. In fact we leave the environment as we find
it. It is our policy to avoid civil unrest and acute crisis. While
safety is a factor in planning the program, because the program
involves bicycling on roads shared with motor vehicles and, in part,
routes are selected because they go to desirable areas, we make no
claims as to the safety of the itinerary. Furthermore, Ibike can
not anticipate and is not responsible for the actions or
circumstances created and controlled by others, including but not
limited to the weather, the conditions of the routes and program
destinations, the behavior of other road users, the skill and
judgment of participants, and the negligent or criminal actions of
other individuals. To the extent possible Ibike will make
reasonable inquiries as to the conditions of our routes and
destinations and inform participants of the general nature of risks
we are aware of. The right is reserved to make changes in the
itinerary and its included features, with or without notice, as may
be necessary for the well being and the proper carrying out of the
program. It is recommended that participants master the material
covered in an "Effective Cycling", "CAN-BIKE", or similar
comprehensive adult cycling course, prior to the trip.
– See “Bicycle
Tour Hazards Evaluation and Control” heading.
– Educational value, cultural sensitivity, environmental impact,
safety, road quality, riding difficulty, the availability of goods
and services, and climatic norms are considered in route selection
and scheduling. Each program is unique. While safety is a factor in
planning the program and most roads are low volume, because the
program involves bicycling on roads shared with motor vehicles and,
in part, routes are selected because they go to desirable areas, we
make no claims as to the safety of the itinerary. It should be
understood that bicycling and travel are calculated risk activities.
– Avoiding accidents is very important to having a fun trip.
Accident prevention is more important in a new and different
physical environment. We
can't sanitize the route so you need to be aware of your own
well-being. Each person need to participate in his or her own
safety. Incorporate safety into all your activities. Help each
other to be safe. If someone gives you a safety suggestion please
accept that they are trying to help you have a safe and fun trip.
- Just because
the rider ahead of you made it through an intersection without
being run over doesn't mean you can, too.
- In urban areas
because you are likely to be more independent than many other
types of tourist make yourself aware of local security issues,
dangerous parts of town and scams.
- In rural areas
don’t assist opportunism and watch out for things like doping. If
you don’t want to accept food or drink you can always “have any
- Wearing closed
shoes and socks can prevent a multitude of misfortune (accidents,
uneven walking surfaces, mosquitoes, jiggers and snakes).
Sheets – Most hotels provide linens, but we occasional utilize other
accommodations where sheets are not provide.
– See “baths”
– If you don't have a roommate, or don't want a roommate there will
be a single supplement charge. This represents the actually
difference in the cost to the program. Single rooms cannot be
Sleep Sack – A sleep
sack is different from a sleeping bag in that it has no loft or
insulation. They are essentially a single-bed sheets that have been
sewn together along the base and side. They were quite popular
during the early days of the hostel movement. On Ibike programs
they are useful for village stays in warm climates, where hotel
bedding may not be as crisp and new as you would find at a five-star
hotel, for a nap under a tree and various other situation that you
might encounter traveling.
– It is our policy to not expose others to second hand smoke.
Participants should not smoke where prohibited, in indoor areas used
by other people or with 10 meters of other people in open areas.
– We want you to have a great trip! Please express your individual
interests. We try to be accommodating. It is not always possible
to make changes in itineraries, but we want you to be as satisfied
as possible about overall arrangements.
Taxes and Fees
– Airport departure taxes and fees are the responsibility of the
traveler. These are often but not always included in the ticket
price. Taxes on lodging and meals, while with the group, are paid
– Landline telephone calls tend to be hard to receive during tours.
If you need to receive a telephone call during a tour contact the
office to discuss the best strategy with respect to your program.
See also “cell
– Program specific time zone information is provide in the
– Toilet facilities (lavatories, latrines, WC's) in around the world
range from western‑style heads, to eastern‑style (squat toilets), to
rustic latrines – it’s part of the education. As might be
expected some people will argue that eastern-style toilets are more
healthy and hygienic and some people will argue that western-style
are better. Similarly, in some areas, instead of toilet paper,
there are water pots or spigots near the toilets for washing when
finished – usually in warm climates. The procedure is simply to
wash your anus. By tradition this would be done with the left
hand. The irony is, those accustom to using water think it
provides increased hygiene and cleanliness and those accustom to
using paper think that it achieves better results. In much of
world, for those who prefer toilet paper, the user should be
prepared to supply it. It is not necessary to carry a month’s
supply because re-supply is readily available. We sill stop
here before we go totally TMI (too much information) on the topic.
– Most hotels provide towels, but we occasional utilize other
accommodations where towels are not provide. It never hurts to
bring a lightweight, absorbent pack or camp towel.
– The tours are not Tour de France training rides, but they are
active travel. The more that the bicycling comes second-nature to
you the more energy you will have for the other dimensions of the
program (intellectual, social, spiritual, etc.) If
it has been awhile
since you have been on a bicycle start your training program with
modest mileage (perhaps 40 miles per week) and increase about 15
percent per week until your weekly mileage is three to four times
the expected daily mileage on your tour.
For example, you might start out with a 50‑mile
week and increase your weekly mileage from there. After seven
weeks you will be up to 150 miles per week in training and easily
able to handle 50‑mile days on your tour. Alternate hard
training days with easy ones so you can recover from the hard
workouts; without recovery days your body cannot benefit from the
workouts! After a day of 40 hard miles, do nothing at all or
spin lightly for 10 miles.
An example of a good 150‑mile training week
consists of: rest on Monday, 15 miles each on Tuesday, Wednesday,
and Thursday, rest on Friday, 40 miles on Saturday, 65 miles on
Sunday and rest again on Monday. Table 1 is an alternative.
With a clean
bill of health, and by spending time on your bike conditioning your
lungs, legs and derriere, you will not only improve your health but
also have more energy to enjoy the events around you as you travel.
WEEK MON TUE
WED THU FRI
SAT SUN Weekly
Paced Paced Paced Mileage
1. 6 miles 10 12 rest
10 30 9 77
2. 7 11 13 rest
11 34 10 86
3. 8 13 15 rest
13 38 11 98
4. 8 14 17 rest
14 42 13 108
5. 9 15 19 rest
15 47 14 119
6. 11 15 21 rest
15 53 16 131
7. 12 15 24 rest
15 59 18 143
8. 13 15 25 rest
15 65 20 153
– Most travel on Ibike programs is done by bicycle.
– Participants are responsible for their own travel documents.
Participants must carry a valid passport. A current International
Certificate of Vaccination is necessary for travel in many areas of
Africa, Asia and South America.
Many countries require visas. Participants are responsible for
acquiring the necessary visas. Visas are issued solely at the
discretion of visa officials.
– It is advisable, to the extent possible, to store valuables out of
sight both on your person, your bike and in the hotel room.
– A visa is an endorsement placed in a passport by a consular or
other government official which indicates that the passport has been
examined by such an official. Technically a visa does not allow you
to enter the country. That is up to the immigration officer at the
point of entry. The visa only indicates that the official who signs
it has examined the passport and information on the visa
application. The endorsement may be valid for a limited period of
time: ten days, 90 days, one year, etc.
Obtaining a tourist visa is usually a relatively
simple procedure. Obtaining business, resident, student and
other categories of visas usually requires more documentation.
Unless you take an extended trip before you get to the country for
which you need a visa, it is usually best to get the visa in your
country of residence prior to departure. Regardless, if a visa
is required you usually must obtain it before entering the country.
The requirements for visas vary from country to country, change from
time to time and may vary from consulate to consulate. The
requirements may include submitting: a passport valid for six
months, a completed application form in duplicate or triplicate,
several passport‑size photos, a certificate of vaccination, an
onward air ticket and/or verification of sufficient funds, a fee for
the visa and return postage if done by mail. Visas can cost from
zero to hundreds of dollars. Visas are issued solely at the
discretion of the visa official of the issuing country. The
requirements differ from nationality to nationality. Citizens
of the EU don’t need visa for many countries. Americans and to
a lesser extent Canadians, need visas for more, but not all
countries. For the latest information, applications and
instructions contact the embassy or consulate of the country you
wish to visit.
Relevant visa requirement, if any, are available with the tour’s pre-departure
materials. If a visa is denied Ibike will refund the participants program
Vocabulary and Communication
– Much of our understanding of the world comes to by way of words:
the words that others deliver to describe their experiences and
impressions. Conversely, what others know, about what we have
learned and experience, comes from the words that we choose to
explain it. To accurately and sensitively convey our experiences
and impressions we need choose the best words for the job. Ibike’s
policy is to use language that is not biased or racist. For more
– Many of our programs travel in areas where there is safe tap or
borehole well water. Bottled water is almost always
available in the towns at the beginning and the end of the
day, but it is not a preferred solution. If you want to avoid the expense, litter and high carbon
footprint of bottled water, bring reusable water bottles and
water filter or purifier, they will be put to good use. Iodine and chlorine tablets
are useful only in emergencies – if you have a half-hour to wait and
once a week at the most! Don't rely on iodized water because you
will poison yourself. The three better choices are a filtering
pumps (search: hiking water filter), an ultraviolet light purifiers (search: SteriPen) or an
oxidant purifiers (search MSR MIOX). Filtering pumps tend to be the
most versatile, labor intensive and requiring the most
maintenance. The latter two, hi-tech methods, require clear water,
which is usually available on our programs, and use batteries --
which can be rechargeable. The MIOX also need salt and adds a
little taste to the water, which is mostly an issue if you start
with a high mineral water that already has a taste. The UV pen is
the most fragile, but generally can be protected sufficiently. The
UV pen is generally the fastest. For more discussion on water
and read and click through the pages. More specific information on
water is provided in the pre-departure materials for each program.
– If the water is not coming from a tap and you want to wash your
hands DO NOT stick them in the first jug, pan or bucket of water you
see. It may be drinking water. In some areas white or blue enamel
pans and buckets, with lids are standard vessels for drinking
water. If you want to use this water to wash look for a dipping
glass or cup on the lid or hanging up near by. Use it to dip
water. Don't put the cup on the ground. And don't put your skin or
the handle of the cup in the water. In short, it is a major faux pas
to contaminate the drinking water supply. You might ask if there is
other water available for washing.
– To receive a refund if withdrawing, submit a letter of withdrawal
in writing. Our policy is as follows: (1) A $100 registration fee
is forfeited, per program, for all withdrawals. (2) A fee of $300
is assessed for withdrawals within 60-30 days prior to departure.
(3) The full price of the land costs is assessed for withdrawals
initiated less than 30 days prior to departure. Changes in medical
circumstances are not considered as exceptions to our normal refund
policy. Insurance coverage for trip cancellation/interruption is
available from several companies.
– Zoology is fascinating. Now we are finished.
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