10 Terms for First-Time Cycling Holidaymakers


Once you are immersed in an activity or become part of a community, the jargon becomes second nature, and cycling is no different. While those who regularly go on guided cycling holidays will no doubt be familiar with all the terms used on the Freewheel Holidays website, for first-time cycling holidaymakers, it might all be a bit confusing. You may have browsed our frequently asked questions and seen words such as ‘panniers’ and ‘terrain’ used, but not have been quite sure what it all meant. Don’t worry, we’ve put together this quick glossary of ten words and phrases for first-time cycling holidaymakers, so you can get on with finding the best guided or self-guided cycling holidays for you.



A word you will see mentioned in connection with cycling equipment and, may not know, is ‘panniers’. Originally a pannier was a basket, used to transport bread by bicycle across France. These days, it is simply a bag which attaches to your bike, so you can bring everything you need on a guided tour. There are different set-ups with different sizes and numbers of panniers attached to your bike, depending on the length and nature of your cycling tour. Some panniers also convert to backpacks for extra convenience on your trip. On most Freewheel Holidays, panniers are provided, along with a bike, padlock, pump, and puncture repair kit, as part of the cost of the holiday. Please note, we also provide luggage transfers between hotels. The panniers are simply there to transport the basics you will need for the day, such as bottles of water, suntan lotion, a snack, a waterproof coat and extra layers of clothing.



An E-Bike may sound like something to do with the Internet, but here, the ‘E’ stands for ‘electric’. E-Bikes incorporate a strong lithium battery, which is rechargeable, and is mounted either over the back wheel, or behind the seat tube. The addition of the battery does make the bike heavier, however, it also helps to reduce the effort needed to pedal the bike. For example, a hill climb can be achieved by using the E-bike’s ‘maximum assistance’ mode. In this way, guided cycling holidays which may have been slightly too challenging in places become manageable. E-Bikes are charged just like a mobile phone. Freewheel Holidays provides E-Bikes at a supplemented charge.


Hybrid & Touring Bikes

All of the rental bikes on Freewheel cycling holidays, apart from the E-bikes, are either hybrid or touring bikes. Hybrid and touring bikes are built to suit a mid to long-range trip, with comfortable saddles, an upright 17 to 23-inch frame and variable (derailleur) gear systems, with 7-27 gears. They also have rapid fire or grip shift changers. These bikes are deemed the most suitable for a variety of terrains, and each has different specifications for particular holidays. There are specific bikes for teenagers and children, and there are baby and toddler seats available. You can also hire tag-along bikes for family cycling holidays, enabling those who are not yet independent cyclists, to literally ‘tag along’.


Boat & Bike

Also known as ‘Sail and Cycle’ or ‘Bike and Barge’ Freewheel Holidays offer boat and bike guided cycling holidays. As you would expect, these particular tours combine a cycling holiday with a river cruise, allowing you to take in some of the most scenic and historic waterways in Europe. Instead of staying in hotels, you are allocated a cabin on one of our ships, removing the need to unpack each day. You also have the option of staying on-board whilst the rest of your party cycle, perfect for those who do not wish to cycle every day. Finally, there’s the social aspect of dining with your fellow passengers each night. Bike and boat cycling holidays are proving increasingly popular, so be sure to book early to avoid disappoint!



Terrain comes from the Latin ‘terra’ meaning earth and refers to the physical features of a piece of ground. For instance, you could be dealing with ‘rocky’ terrain or ‘smooth’ terrain. Freewheel Holidays have three classifications for terrain: ‘easy’, ‘moderate’ and ‘challenging cycling holidays’ which tell you what to expect. You’ll find these classifications to the left of each holiday description, to help you decide which cycling tour is right for you and your family or travelling companions.



An ‘easy’ cycling holiday in Freewheel terms, means that although a reasonable level of fitness is still advised, the routes you will be travelling will be mostly flat. Easy also indicates that there isn’t much traffic, it may be on cycle paths, and the route is well sign-posted. There most likely aren’t any long stretches which require significant pedalling effort. An ‘easy’ holiday is ideal for first-time cycling holidaymakers.



If a holiday is classed as ‘moderate’ you may require a slightly higher level of fitness, as part of the route may include low hills, long stretches or slightly busier traffic. It may be that the route includes some side roads or agricultural roads so may not be suitable for inexperienced holidaymakers.



If you are thinking of booking a ‘challenging’ holiday, you should be a relatively experienced cyclist, with a good level of fitness. On a challenging tour, you might encounter roads with a steep gradient, undulating roads and paths or steep hills. You may be riding for long distances without a break and may have to navigate heavy traffic.



Derived from Latin meaning ‘journey of roads’, an itinerary is a plan to follow on your trip. On the Freewheel Holidays website, the itinerary is a breakdown of how far along your route you will be on any given day, where you will be and what you will be doing. By looking at the itineraries of various guided cycling holidays, you can get a better sense of which holiday is best for you.


UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and refers to any area which is considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. There are UNESCO sites all over the world, from the Alto Douro Wine Region in Portugal to Venice and its famous lagoon. If you are looking for cycling holidays with culture, you’ll find a diverse range at Freewheel Holidays. Now you can talk the talk, it’s time to get on your bike and book your first cycling trip! Get in touch with our friendly sales team to find out more about our range of cycling holidays in Europe with Freewheel Holidays.


Need more inspiration?

If you’re finding it difficult to choose an active holiday full of cycling and sightseeing, then you’ve come to the right place. We have so many inspiring real stories and blogs that will get you on your two wheels in the sunshine this year.

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