Guidance on Running a Club Tour

A ‘Tour’ for the purposes of this document is a cycling activity which involves an overnight stop away from home.

This document is intended to assist you when you go through the process of planning, organising and executing a cycle tour.

There are three parts –

    1. The first part has the standards and working practices we expect a tour to comply with
    2. The second part is not intended to be prescriptive – it is guidance only and as you get more experience you will develop your own techniques and checklists.
    3. The third part is a list of documents from previous tours which might assist in your thinking .

PART 1 – Standards and Working Practices

The intention is to have just a ‘light touch’ approach from the the club to the planning, organiation and running of tours. So much of the explosive growth in our touring programme has been down to the energy and enthisasm of individual tour leaders to do the tours they want to do and to do it in the way that they feel comfortable. This has been brilliant and is a style that the club wishes to maintain. The following are a few simple standards that we do asl that Tour Leaders do comply with :

      1. By Definition  a Tour Leader must be a registered Cycling UK Ride Leader.
      2. The Tour Leader must comply with all the Cycling UK and CTC Coventry Working practices for a Ride Leader.
      3. It is a CTC Coventry working practice that a Tour Leader must have run at least 5 Club rides before the departure date of any tour.
      4. If the timing of your tour overlaps that of an already pre-planned tour then you must reach agreement with the other Tour Leader that your Tour will not impact theirs.
      5. The Club wishes for Tours to be as open to all participants as possible to meet our diversity and inclusion policies and to encourage new participants into touring – however it is acknowleged that this is not always possible. The Tour Leader will have the ultimate say on participation on their Tour, however if there are issues then the Welfare and Safeguarding Team must be involved.
      6. The Club will not be responsible for any financial losses incurred by a Tour Leader.
      7. It is strongly recommended that you ensure that all participants on a non-UK Tour have appropriate Travel Insurance
      8. It is strongly recommended that you ensure that all participants complete a health declaration when applying and/or just before joining a Tour
      9. The Club reserves the right to review all Tour documentation,  to assess the viability of any Tour Plans, to work with the Tour Leader to resolve issues, and to remove the Tour from the Club Programme if there are unresolved issues.
      10. When you have a draft proposal for a Tour please send the document(s)  to Alan Jelley and he will get the proposal reviewed by a number of experienced Tour Leaders to confirm that the trip can be supported as a Club Tour and can be incorporated into the Tour Programme


PART 2 – Planning and Delivering your Tour

This is a large section which gives you some optional guidance for organising your Tour

Phase 1 – Understand your Concept

Only do a Tour to a location that excites you. It can be tough to do this – if you are not excited then you’re not going to enjoy it. Be clear in your own mind as to why you are putting yourself through all of this ! What is it that you want to get out of it ?  What does “success” at the end of the tour look like for you ?

Who are your likely participants ?  Is it for more seasoned tourers or relative newcomers to riding. Is it for the retired members with lots of time on their hands, or is it also for the folks who are still working and possible want a long-weekend 4 day tour ?

Who can join our tours:? Cycling UK Members, Regular CTC club riders or friends of club riders who join Cycling UK. Those wishing to join a tour will need to meet a certain level of fitness indicated in the tour prospectus. 

What is the ethos of the tour – is it going to be a physical challenge or is it a more relaxed approach – make sure that members are aware and come into the tour with a clear understanding.

Is it going to be a daily ‘moving-on tour’ or a ‘single centre tour’ ?  Is it hotel based or camping ? … or could you combine the two or off them in parallel ?  Do you want to cycle from the Coventry area or use transport to and from the start/end ?




In particular you must be clear about the level of fitness participants will need to have before the tour and the sort of bike and level of equipment that participants should provide.

When is the tour  planned for ? – Probably away from peak holiday periods and school holidays. What might the weather conditions be like?

Are you interested in visiting attractions on the way – if so don’t be too aggressive with the distances / climbing / timings

Think about having a rest day in an interesting location if the cycling is physically challenging day after day, and the tour is longer than 5 days

Decide a manageable participant number. 

Decide if you are going to set a target number of participants and that you will prebook accommodation based on that (probably aiming for twin-bedded rooms), or if you are prepared to set a certain date for people to commit and then you will try to book accommodation  for that number … or if you will leave it for people to book their own accommodation on the way, and which leaves you focusing on being a guide and leader.

Think about yourself and your character – do you want to have a rigidly controlled tour or are you prepared to be a bit flexible with routes / timing / stops. Are you happy being a facilitator to the group or are more comfortable being a ‘leader/manager’

How complex is your tour … and how experienced are you. If it is your first tour then do something simple and with just a small group. You might like to consider joint leadership of your tour or at least shared ride leading.


Phase 2 – Tour and Route  Planning

Route planning is definitely bit of an art form that needs you to balance distance/climbing with intermediate refreshment stops and overnight stops, and the type of roads.

As an example Alan Jelley uses ( as the routing algorithm favours the national cycle routes, it shows cafes, shops and pubs along the way to plan stops, and it links nicely to Street view to check road conditions and junction layouts. Other Tour Leaders have their own equally good preferences for route planning but the considerations are the same.

Ensure that your routes translate on to Garmins or other devices well and that all your participants have routes on their devices or paper maps before leaving home.

Select a rendezvous point which is on the ‘right’ side of Coventry and which hopefully means that riders from outside of Coventry don’t have too far to go before the ‘start’ of the tour.

60 miles a day with panniers is probably the upper comfortable limit for experienced riders … for inexperienced then maybe 30 miles a day

1000 metres of climbing a day is probably the upper limit (Bob Tinley has a algorithm which might assist in this)

Probably allow 40 mins for a morning stop, an hour for lunch and 30 mins for afternoon stop

There is no specific guidance on ‘on the road’ speeds … allowing for drink stops, map reading, waiting at the top of climbs, and so on) – I would tend to look at 10mph on the road with experienced riders with panniers – 9mph inexperienced rider without panniers – 8mph inexperienced riders with panniers.

If you are likely to have less able riders then investigate to possibility of having alternative or bail out routes – probably not applicable on a moving-on tour but a possibility on a single centre trip.   


Other forms of travel

You may require riders to meet some way from Coventry

 Trains: check train providers and spaces for bikes on trains

Glenelg Ferry to Skye taken in 1999Ferries: Check availability and timing of any intermediate ferries – and numbers of bikes that can be carried

Van Hire: this can be a challenging process to manage, especially if more that one person is going to do the driving. (Ask Martin Lee)

Self -managed travel is best from the tour leaders view point.



Overnight stops

Understand who your participants are likely to be, to see if they are likely to be wanting private rooms or are happy to have single beds in shared rooms, or if you have couples using double beds

Identify potential hotels / campsite – check they take cyclists and have secure storage for cycles.

Check if the hotel or hostel can accommodate the anticipated number of participants. Generally larger towns have Premier Inns and Travelodges which are relatively ‘expandable’ bed availability… and will have lots of flexibility with the double/twin/single bed balance. Smaller towns will have private hotels and B&Bs and they are likely to have restricted numbers of beds, and in many cases are mainly double beds rather than single beds.

Check if breakfast included – if not will need to identify a nearby breakfast stop …. And pull forward your start time if you cannot get breakfast at the hotel / hostel / campsite.

Check nearby evening meal options … and if they will accept a group booking… and if they need any pre-ordering.  (And then welcome to the nightmare of getting everyone to agree to the style of food they want !) Ask if someone else in the group would co-ordinate evening meals, selecting booking and payment managing. 


Refreshment Stops

Morning coffee stops – possibly 12 – 18 miles after breakfast

Lunch preferably just over half total distance for the day

Afternoon cafe stops can be tricky – check closing times particularly at weekends… and sometimes they’re not even open on a Monday

Potential Mechanical issues

On your route, or reasonably close to it, it might be worth identifying possible bike shops in case of major mechanical issues.

Phase 3 – Setup

Confirm availability of accommodation at overnight  stops – if possible make a no deposit reservation for probable number of participants

Produce Draft Route Sheets, maps, and gpx files

Send out routes to experienced tour leaders to double check suitability.

Identify options for getting to and from any start / finish points away from Coventry


Phase 4 – Engagement

Produce Planning pack which includes tour description or prospectus, all the things you have decided about your tour ethos and tour planning) and an application form to be completed. (We have templates ) 

Publicise and open to participants

Engage with participants and confirm hotel / camping places. Be clear about deposits , deadlines and non refundable payments. Make sure you have good contact details, ICE numbers, and certainly for overseas trips that you have travel insurance details and emergency handling details. Cycling UK insurance only covers the rides on a tour and not any other activities that take place.

For overseas tours insist that it is a condition of coming on the tour that people have travel insurance

Carry out any preparatory checks on people fitness, are they riding regularly? what distances and what climbing?( if required on your tour) and bike suitability? (depending on route terrain).

Consider if a group get-together might be worthwhile, or  pre-Tour Practice ride. This could be especially useful if participants are not used to packing or riding with pannier or other bakepacking equipment.

Set up a WhatsApp group to establish and maintain group contact.

Also get riders to ensure they have adequate battery/charger resources for Gamins and all other devices , including lights which will be needed if likely to be riding at dusk or if there are tunnels on the route.

Phase 5 – Executing the tour

Communicate days ride plan at breakfast or prior evening meal, or even in a WhatsApp message which is a great way to communicate to include riders with hearing challenges

Ensure that everyone is unambiguously clear about the departure time … and you set an assembly / bike check time ahead of the departure time.

Give a normal Ride Leader briefing at the start of each day / session

Identify a lead rider / navigator for the session …. however be prepared for that leader to adopt a consensus shared approach where naviagtion might be a bit tricky … Garmins and the people using them are not infallible!


Identify a back-marker for the session

Ensure everyone has a route sheet / map / gpx file

Make your plan, check viability every day – and be very resistant to change it. People are stronger cyclists than they think they are ! … and as soon  as you change the plan all sort of unexpected issues and dependencies come bubbling to the surface.

Propose a departure time at each refreshment stop … and give people a gentle count down.

If you find you have someone who is struggling at the back then maybe you need to find a way to get them to set off from the stop 5 mins early.


Phase 6 – Post Riding

Evening meals can be a wonderful collective experience but they can also be an absolute nightmare … especially as the group size gets above six. Delegate wherever possible.

Look at the options available each night if possible – try to aim for English, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean styles

Contact / Confirm with restaurant before hand to see if they will take the group

Understand how the bill for a large group will be prepared by the restaurant – will it be one bill that the group has to sort out or will there be individual bills.

Strongly recommend the the leader does not take on the individual responsibility to sort out a large complex bill – the group need to do it amongst themselves.

Try to pay for drinks separately / individually.


Phase 7 – Post Tour

Ask participants to write a tour report for Website

Use the groups Whatsapp for photos to share on website



Part 3 – Information from past Tours

This table contains information on past tours which might prove useful to future Tour Leaders doing their planning, and reports on the success of the trips which might prove encouraging !

Tour Name Tour Leader Tour Documents Trip Report
Vicky Palethorpe    
2021 – SOUTH DOWNS Alan Jelley


Mike Thomas
Bob Tinley 2019 Peak District Tour
Alan Jelley–-Cotswold-Weekend-Planning-document-Version-3.pdf  
2018 – RUTLAND
 Mike Thomas
2018 – ISLE OF MAN Paul Whithead
2017 HAMPSHIRE & IOW Alan Jelley 
Mike Thomas
Alan Jelley Schedule for September 2016 Cycle Tour version3 – 31st August 2016  
2016 – YORKSHIRE Bob Tinley