Thinking of setting off on a cycling holiday or bike tour soon? Here's a few useful hints and tips that will help you plan ahead so you have the best experience possible!
Planning a bike tour
If you’re planning a cycling holiday or bike tour, you need to carefully choose what to take.
Too many inexperienced cyclists will end up carrying too much surplus gear and once they realize the reality of the increased weight and how most of it is not actually needed anyway, before long they’re sending it back home.
An unwritten rule for experienced cyclists is: the less weight you carry, the more fun it actually is to ride.
Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
In terms of cycling clothing, you’ll need clothes that are lightweight, easy to pack, and suitable for the expected weather conditions. Whether it be waterproofs in preparation for rain, quick drying activity t-shirts, or a long-sleeved shirt for sun protection, choosing the right clothing is essential.
Further accessories to consider to make your ride more comfortable would be a good helmet, gloves and cycling shoes. For example, there are a variety of bike touring shoes available but choosing stiff soles to increase pedalling efficiency and protect your feet, would be an ideal choice.
If your feet swell when riding you will also want shoes that allow free movement of your toes and can accommodate an extra sock layer.
Let's assume you've chosen to take panniers rather than a trailer. Experienced cyclists will advise keeping your total cycling load between 15 and 45 pounds and your bike will be most stable if most of that weight is distributed to your front panniers.
All touring bikes will vary but you can experiment with how to pack your bike for the best handling results – usually heavier items such as tools, spares and cooking equipment will go at the front whilst lighter, bulkier items will go at the rear, along with sleeping bags and tents, often strapped to the rear rack.
One tip would also be to line your panniers with heavy duty rubbish bags as well in case of leaking in heavy rain. Check out this guide to choosing the best bike touring panniers for more.
It’s advisable to leave extra room in your panniers at the start of your trip for any items you might pick up along the way. Keep more valuable items such as your wallet and camera in a detachable handlebar bag, waist bag or small backpack and always take it with you when you leave your bike.
Do a Practice Run
You don’t want to only realize you’ve packed too much, the load is too heavy and your bike isn’t handling well a few miles into your trip – so do a test run first! It’s only through experience you’ll become fully accustomed to what gear is and isn’t needed for a comfortable self-contained adventure.