Getting in shape

Getting in shape

Andy Ross, Cycling Manager at our leading cycling vacations supplier, Exodus:

“Do as much training as possible beforehand as the fitter you are the more you can relax during the trip and properly appreciate the experience and where you are cycling. That said, always avoid the temptation to be competitive on the trip, someone will always be the slowest rider and it really doesn’t matter if that is you. A good cycling vacation will have always been designed to allow enough time for most people to complete the rides each day.”
Packing advice

Packing advice

Andy Ross, Cycling Manager at our supplier, Exodus:

“Close fitting cycle clothing really isn’t culturally appropriate in quite a few destinations. It is the duty of a tour operator to ensure that clients are aware of this and to implement it on the ground. You may have paid a lot of money to visit, but you are only a visitor.”
Manali to Leh cycle tips

Manali to Leh cycle tips

Valerie Parkinson, Ladakhi expert and tour leader with our supplier, Exodus:

“Ladakh is one of the best adventure travel destinations on earth. For both trekking and cycling there are endless opportunities. One of my favourite things to do is cycling down the Khardung La – the Khardung La is supposedly the highest motorable road pass on earth at 5,602m. The rewards of getting to the top include not only bragging rights and close-up views of the Karakorums, but an exhilarating 40km downhill ride, dropping 2,000m in altitude, back to Leh. Take it easy on arrival. The altitude takes your breath away literally. Rest and drink for the first 24hours. Expect to feel breathless when walking up the stairs – it happens to everyone.”

“It is an ideal place for a first time visit to India – many people go to Rajasthan as a first time in India – and they end up hating the country because it is so full on. Visit Ladakh as a first time in India. Once in Leh you feel you have left ‘real’ India. There is a hardly any hassle and although it is busier in summer it is never as busy as other tourist destinations within India.”
Hill climbing advice

Hill climbing advice

Andy Ross, from our cycling in India experts, Exodus Travels:

“Pacing yourself is a key component of improving hill climbing although sometimes it’s just a case of grinning and bearing it, especially when undertaking steep gradients or lengthier distances. Eat and drink little and often when you’re cycling tougher climbs and distances and try to do so when you’re on a flattish section or cycling downhill so you can prepare your body for whatever climb might be waiting around the next bend. Listen to your group leader as they’ll have cycled the route before and they’ll know when and where you’ll need to make the most of fuel reserves, and which gear is best suited for which climb.”
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about India cycling or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.



Take out comprehensive travel insurance before departure and ensure this covers any activities you are planning to participate in, as well as emergency evacuation and repatriation. For any medical or other emergencies, call 112. Visit your GP or trave clinic six to eight weeks before departure to ensure you are up to date with all necessary vaccinations. Take precautions to protect yourself from mosquitoes as malaria and dengue fever do exist – particularly during the period after monsoon. Always tell your cycling guide in advance if you have any health issues or require the use of particular medical equipment or medicines, such as asthma inhalers, EpiPens, diabetic injections etc. Carry and drink plenty of water whilst cycling no matter what the weather's like. A hydration backpack is a great investment. It can get seriously hot in some regions, especially in Rajasthan. Coconut water is the best quick rehydration fix. Or the 1 tsp salt/8 tsp sugar/1 litre of water ratio combo is pretty foolproof too. It’s best to drink bottled water, but beware of ones just filled from a tap. If you are traveling on a small group tour, your vacation company should carry large water carriers for you to fill up your reusable bottles from to avoid excess plastic usage. Stay clear of ice too. Padded cycling shorts and plenty of Vaseline, Sudacrem or cycling cream equivalent will alleviate the risk of friction and help to prevent the horrors of chafing. Always wear sunscreen and sunglasses even if there's cloud cover. Make sure that your bike has been adjusted to your height. Just a few minor tweaks can make all the difference between comfortable cycling or painful back and knee injuries. There are a lot of stray dogs and cat in India and rabies does exist. Although rabies vaccinations are not usually recommended before travel, be cautious and always seek medical attention within 24 hours if bitten. If trying out street food, always stick to something that you can see being prepared in front of you. If you do get a stomach upset and it lasts for more than 48 hours, consult a doctor. Sometimes they can be parasite related and require medication. Rajasthan has some venomous snakes; seek help urgently if bitten. The good news is that out of 30 species only four are venomous, and generally they do not attack humans unless provoked or stepped on.


Always check with Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for updated news regarding safety in India. Never go cycling too far alone in Rajasthan. This is a desert state and you really need to have expert local knowledge when taking on this terrain. Women are advised to keep the body covered as much as possible, and not to walk alone in tourist cities at night, as sex crimes are a horrible reality, particularly during Indian festivals. On self guided vacations, always carry a basic first aid kit including rehydration salts. If you're on a self guided cycling vacation, carry maps and a compass as well as keeping emergency contact details close to hand, just in case. Always tell someone where you're going and what time you intend to arrive. And don't forget to charge your phone; if you are on a tailor made cycling vacation in India you will have 24/7 support. Avoid wearing headphones and do not take photos or use your phone while cycling. Bring your own helmet for comfort and peace of mind. Don't ever cycle without a helmet, even if it doesn’t seem to be the done thing locally. This is a time to not do as the locals do. Waterproofs, front and rear lights, and high-vis gear should all be included as part of your daily kit, especially outside summer months. In certain regions, such as the Ghat Mountains, rainfall can happen anytime. Don't cycle too close to the person in front of you and keep to single file unless it's completely safe to cycle and chat next to each other. If you are on a self guided cycling vacation, always check the local weather forecast, because if heavy rain falls there could be flash floods. You also don’t want to be cycling in the middle of a lightning storm.

India cycling tips from our vacation reviews

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful India cycling vacation travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your panniers.
Just relax and enjoy the color of the nature surrounding you while you cycle, listen to the many birds' songs, smell the cardamom or the other fragrances on the way.
– Manuela Vismara, cycling in South India
“Cycling is the only way to go for so many reasons. The most memorable part? The endless wild receptions as we rolled through village streets; young and old alike excited beyond measure! Don't plan on convenient, ever-present wifi at your hotels. Be mentally prepared for very slow riding. The Leaders were conscientious and at the ready. If anything, we were over-coddled in that we were afraid, perhaps rightly, to go out on our own in some places.” – Peter Judd on a Rajasthan cycling vacation

“You really don't have to worry about anything. We were happy and healthy the entire time, and very comfortable indeed! We met so many lovely people! My only advice would be to make sure that if there are things you especially like or don't like then let them know in advance...My wife and I went on this trip with our 17 year-old son. Even as seasoned travelers to India, we would never have been able to do this trip on our own because this part of central India really doesn't have much tourist/traveler infrastructure. Cycling from village to village was absolutely fantastic. Our wonderful guide, Saurabh, based in Raipur, was not only brilliantly organised and wonderfully knowledgeable about wildlife, architecture, people, plants, birds, customs etc. He also enabled us to visit families and villages in a way that was really rewarding and not the slightest bit 'icky'. We stayed overnight in one village, which was a fantastic experience - we learned so much. I especially enjoyed being taught how to make herb chapatis over a fire.” – Jonathan Drori on our Cycling vacation in the Maikal Hills
The best part of the trip was probably the climb up on the way to Valparai in Tamil Nadu.
– Roman Stöllinger on our Western Ghats mountain biking vacation
“A reasonable standard of fitness is required. We were a group of nine men with ages ranging from 54 to 67 years. Take a good pair of padded cycle shorts.” – Bob Stunt on the coast to coast cycling vacation

“Check the weather carefully as can be much wetter than the historic averages suggest. Rain never spoilt our days but does mean wildlife is harder to see. Kovalam, lighthouse beach, was a real treat with nice waves and clean seas.” – Des Jarrett on our walking and cycling vacation in Kerala.

“Try to see the Indian traffic (which varies from road to road) as part of the adventure, while at the same time being attentive. In fact the driving style in India is pretty unique but it is manageable as the speed of (most) vehicles is low which makes it less stressful for cycling. Make sure you drink enough and sugar up your body before the climbs! The best part of the trip was probably the climb up on the way to Valparai in Tamil Nadu. Another highlight in Valparai was the scenic view and the very friendly people at the Stanmore Estate. Other highlights included the climb up to Munnar as well as the descent the next day on a misty morning.” – Roman Stöllinger on our Western Ghats mountain biking vacation
Kovalam, lighthouse beach, was a real treat with nice waves and clean seas.
– Des Jarrett on our walking and cycling vacation in Kerala.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Bill Bourne] [Getting into shape: Bill Bourne] [Packing advice: Bill Bourne] [Manali to Leh cycle tips: Mayur Joshi] [Hill climbing advice: irumge] [Health and safety large: Lyn Hill] [advice intro: Charl Folscher] [Manuela Vismara quote: Milin John] [Roman Stöllinger quote: Karthik Sridharan] [Des Jarrett quote: deepgoswami]