Cycling holidays have been gaining popularity in the last few years, with people realising what a great way it is to explore a new place. Usually anticipated months in advance and embarked upon with great expectations, so what do you need to prepare for the trip so that it will live up to your expectations? Here are some top tips to make your cycling holiday the trip of a lifetime.
1. Assess your cycling fitness level and be realistic about your plans
You might aspire to ride hundreds of miles for a week and even climb some hills, however, are you fit enough for that goal to really enjoy your cycling ‘holiday’? It’s important to assess your level of cycling fitness at least two months prior to your trip, so that you can train yourself to it. While general fitness obviously helps, the only way to really get ready for cycling is by cycling itself.
More noticeably, you should be realistic about what type of cyclist you are to opt for a suitable kind of holiday experience. You could plan your cycling holiday to be more leisurely but still rewarding; more challenging for a few days then more relaxing on the others; or a full-on road cycling trip with lots of miles and hill climbs. Remember, the joy of cycling is the freedom it offers: travelling at your own pace, through new, magnificent routes and taking short breaks along the road for a cuppa or snacks if needed. Don’t force yourself to rush between locations with little time to enjoy the beauty of what lies in-between.
2. Create a training schedule to build up some miles
Now since you’re aware of your fitness level and the type of cycling holiday you’re into, let’s start training for it! The goal is to work towards the ability to ride comfortably the average mileage you’ll be covering during your trip. To properly prepare, you should book your cycling holiday far enough ahead (we suggest two months at least) so that you will have time to enhance your fitness and endurance for a successful trip. If you just go out there and ride too fast too soon, you’ll end up with sore muscles and exhaustion that you might never want to get on your bike again.
So, start with a couple of rides each week and add up a few miles gradually. If you can’t afford to take your bike outdoors due to bad weather or unfavourable roads, an indoor static bike is certainly the next optimal choice. One small notice: Don’t push yourself too much in the week preceding your trip because it might be too late to improve your cycling fitness. Plus, you surely want to keep it fresh for the holiday itself before burning all your energy and enthusiasm for the training sessions.
3. Equip yourself with the essential accessories
For any holiday, you need the right gear to ensure your enjoyment and safety during the trip. For a cycling, this equipment you take is even more important, it can make or break a great trip.
Helmet: You’ve heard it all before, we don’t need to reiterate the importance of the helmet, just protect your noggin, you know it’s the right thing to do!
Gloves: Fingerless, padded bike gloves do a great job of protecting your hands against soreness and blisters in warm weather. Additionally, your hands won’t be frozen when you cycle against chilly wind anytime of the day.
Eyewear: Whether they are regular specs, sunglasses or full-on cycling glasses, eyewear shields your eyes from the damage of the UV rays, dust, insects and road debris.
Windproof jacket, arm/leg warmers or long-sleeved cycling jersey: Wind chill is nasty and often unavoidable with any type of fast speed. Lightweight windbreakers and warm travel garments can take up little space but can make a big difference to your overall comfort.
Cycling shorts: Saddle soreness happens to all cyclists, including the pros. However, a padded pair of cycling shorts can assist you in going miles with the minimum pain possible. Or else, chamois cream is helpful, too.
Basic spares and a ‘multi-tool’: Some spare inner tubes, brake pads, chain speed links and a good ‘multi-tool’ will definitely go in handy for roadside repairs.
4. Going with a partner? Choose wisely and discuss expectations clearly
Regarding any sorts of holiday, your travelling partners are so essential that they add up a lot to your enjoyment during the trip! As a matter of fact, a cycling holiday requires a precise choice of company. Are your companions avid cyclists or riders who simply enjoy a leisure holiday? Make it clear which type you are in favour of; or you can go solo and join a group of other like-minded riders.
Next step, you should discuss your expectations clearly because it’s important that you are on the same page. Are you riding all day or splitting your time between the bikes and the pubs/tourist attractions? When do you plan to tackle the climbs? Do you need a recovery day with shorter, flatter ride?
Well, there’s nothing stopping you from diverging routes for some time then reuniting later. Apparently, everybody being happy is the most crucial point!
5. Test your kit before the departure
A test ride is important before you set off on the road. Load your bike exactly as you plan to ride it with all the kit and accessories. You’ll realise that a loaded bike will handle differently when ascending, cornering and braking. So, some training sessions in the wild are probably needed. You might want to pack heavy items at the bottom of panniers for stability improvement and keep waterproofs and snacks easily accessible.
Also, set up your bike carefully for your comfort. A sore neck and arms or saddle discomfort can ruin the fun, but also can be resolved by small adjustments to your bike. Furthermore, make sure that your chain and derailleurs are well lubricated, and that your tyres are inflated to the proper pressure.
6. Nutrition is vital
Last but not least, the top advice for cyclists taking on long rides is to fuel your energy constantly and correctly. Drinking and eating along the way is essential. You can easily prepare your on-road nutrition with energy drinks, protein bars, gels or recovery drinks.
It’s common for holiday-goers to stay at hotels with buffet-style breakfast or dinner. Pampering yourself with a variety of cuisine after an arduous long bike ride is reasonable. However, try to avoid getting carried away and eating food that may discourage your excitement for the cycling trip on the next day.
One of the optimum things about cycling holiday is the freedom to move that it offers! At Reid, we believe that on two wheels, so much more can happen in life. Whether wandering around town, climbing the winding country roads or bombing down a coarse mountain incline, we’re here to give you everything you need to get out there and explore your freedom the way you want to.
For Reid, freedom is key. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’re into, whether you ride for fun, or enjoy getting technical. It doesn’t matter if you cruise, commute or carve your way down the mountainside. What matters is your freedom to move.