Preparing for a Cycling Tour
This is our first blog back after Christmas and we just wanted to wish all of our readers a very happy new year. We'd love to hear of any new year resolutions you may have made. Feel free to email us and if you are struggling to stay motivated check out our 'Motivation to ride' blog!
I will be honest in saying I've never been or planned a riding tour in a different country, apart from the occasional cycle when wanting to explore a new place when abroad. However, the exceptional views you can experience and find when touring new places are awe-inspiring. Whether you have one planned in the future or are simply looking to try out touring, we have put together some tips we've found to help you feel more confident when trying out a new, abroad cycling trip.
Similarly for any trip, you want to make sure you are as preprepared as you can be beforehand. It’s better to have more than what you might think then be left needing something in an unknown area that you have never been before.
Depending on your preference for your journey, you could be in the middle of nowhere, in heat you're not accustomed to so, take plenty of water, and make sure you are taking every opportunity to fill this up, you never know when you may get the chance again. A metal bottle is a great idea to pack for hot water as the water will stay warm and can act as a heater through colder nights.
A little trip bag to bring is also perfect to sit on your top tube and gives you easy access to anything you don’t want to keep on your person. You should also make sure in this you have important documents such as ID, extra change, and your mobile phone for emergencies.
You should never rely on electrics alone if you are on a bike tour into the unknown as you can’t be positive you will have access to electricity/signal so make sure you bring a portable charger and a map. Phone batteries die, maps don't. This next tip may may sound crude, but it will also be handy to bring spare toilet roll, we hope we don’t need to explain this one!
Think of the location of where you’re heading and plan accordingly. You can view our other blogs where we talk about cycling in the summer and winter to gain insight into what you might expect and need to take for this. It’s important to prep for weather conditions not just for comfort but this can also be dangerous if you don’t have the right equipment. For instance, if you’re caught in the rain, a helpful tip is to put your foot in a plastic bag before putting on your pants to keep out the wetness. Plastic gloves are also great to slip over your gloves in this case.
When sending your bike to your location it’s smart to ship your bike in a free cardboard bike box from your local bike shop. Clad with bubble wrap/pipe insulator and save yourself hundreds of pounds. You will be able to dispose of it once you’re there.
If you’re staying in hotels along the way and just riding short trips you should be fine in regards to sleeping arrangements. However, be cautious to read reviews of your accommodation online, much like what you'd do on a normal holiday. If you are camping, and require a sleeping pad, why not try a person sized strip of bubble wrap instead? It can last for as much as 50 nights, and double up as a waterproof liner for panniers or bags.
For longer tours try and fit in a luxury day every so often. A nice hotel and warm shower can give you something to look forward to and I know I'd appreciate somewhere nice to sleep after heavy rides.
Remember, when taking a much-needed break, you can keep a small wedge and push it in the front brake handle to stop the bike moving and when leaving a camp paint your tent pegs a bright colour before you leave so they are easy to see when you pack up each day. Try a quick tour before your final journey to iron out any issues you may face beforehand. If you are extra prepared, you can even try the trial out shorter a few months beforehand.
When wondering where to eat and a restaurant is full, the likelihood is that the food will be nice, similarly if the restaurant is full of locals. If you are in a non-English speaking country try speaking to the youngsters, they are more likely to have learnt English, however you should always keep your wits about you. If an area seems out of the ordinary or simply not right to you. Do not approach.
Some last helpful tricks when packing is to put your kit in various small clear bags and write on them what’s inside, even separate them into parts such as snacks/clothing etc. This will make packing/unpacking a lot quicker and provides protection from the elements you may face. If you are ever in doubt as to whether you need to pack something that you don’t think is essential, consider whether you’ll be able to buy it on route. If you can, then leave it behind and always remember to stop and look at the views every chance you can get! That is the whole reason you’re there. Try to plan your tour so it is not all about the distance. There will be things you just want to stop and see.
The idea of travelling is to experience things, meet people and reflect.