Distances vary considerably. Depending on fitness, speed and the number of stops, the rider usually covers between 50–150 kilometres (30–90 mi) per day. A short tour over a few days may cover as little as 200 kilometres (120 mi) and a long tour may go right across a country or around the world.
There are many different types of bicycle touring:
Cycle touring beyond the range of a day trip may need a bike capable of carrying heavy loads. Although many different bicycles can be used, most cycle tourists prefer a touring bike built for the loads and which can be ridden more comfortably over long distances. A typical bicycle would have a longer wheelbase for stability and heel clearance, frame fittings for front and rear pannier racks, additional water bottle mounts, frame fittings for front and rear mudguards/fenders, a broader range of gearing to cope with the increased weight, and touring tires which are wider and more puncture-resistant.
"Ultralight tourers" choose traditional road bicycles or "Audax bicycles" for speed and simplicity. However, these bikes are harder to ride on unmade roads, which in extreme cases can mean riding on busy roads. For some, the advantages of a recumbent bicycle are particularly relevant to touring. Other tourists find more comfort and better views riding in the upright position.
Another option is to pull a bicycle trailer. This removes most of the requirements for a touring bike.
Finally, a rider can have his load carried in a following car or van, cyclists call this being "supported". When the cyclist and bicycle are picked up, cyclist call this being "sagged", which comes from the colloquial name of the rescue bus, known as the "SAG Wagon," that follows riders in races and picks up those who have sagged, who don't have the strength to ride further. For this, almost any type of bicycle may be suitable.
From the invention of the bicycle, it has always been a challenge to see how far it could be ridden. When the limits of a day's ride were reached, cyclists began carrying luggage for an overnight stop, thus creating bicycle touring. Since this was impromptu progression, accelerated when the equally-sized wheels of the safety bicycle made it simpler to carry bags, it is impossible to say when it started. By 1878, however, recreational cycling was well enough established in Britain to lead to the formation of the Bicycle Touring Club, later renamed Cyclists' Touring Club. It is the oldest national tourism organisation in the world. Membership of the CTC inspired the Frenchman Paul de Vivie (b. April 29, 1853) to found what became the Fédération Française de Cyclotourisme, the world's largest cycling association, and to coin the French word "cyclo-tourisme".