Alright i know what you guys are thinking “Georgie you’ve been on like 1 cycle touring holiday…” but people of wordpress as a super organised (aka OCD) human i did alot of research into this touring milarky and have thus compiled some top tips- mainly things i wish i knew before setting off…
BEFORE YOU GO:
First things first you want to think about what sort of tour you want based on your fitness level/cycling ability. There is no point trying to cycle 100 miles a day as that gets old pretty damn fast. Me and dad cycle together around 5 or 6 times a week and went for doing around 60 miles a day, this ment we didnt have time pressures and got to the next stop mid afternoon allowing plenty of relaxing and exploring time. Saddle sores are one of the main complaints of any cycle tour so make sure to practice spending a few hours at a time on your bike to minimise this. When i first started cycling i couldnt imagine my ass ever getting used to the bike but it did so do persevere with this and for goodness sake wear proper cycling shorts. I had an £8 pair and sweet jesus i was in pain- some things are worth spending that bit more money on and cycling shorts are defo one of those things. Another consideration when route planning is where the civilisation is- me and dad had a day without seeing any towns or villages all morning and i ran out of water and got dehydrated :S so make sure if you arnt going through settlements that you have enough water and food to make it through!
Next consideration is who you are going with- do not go with someone you dont get on with well. Chances are you are gonna get sweaty, smelly and snappy so you need to be with someone you gel with. Me and dad managed not to have any arguments etc but we overheard another cycle touring couple who seemed to hate each others guts by day 3- not ideal! Teamwork is so important when out on the road too, if your infront its your job to alert the person or people behind to any dangers like holes in the road. Most people work out hand signals or little phrases to communicate as sometimes when traffic is busy its hard to stick together and not go down a pothole or something. Likewise if you are at the back you need to let the others know if there is a car coming up behind, it seems obvious but its worth a group discussion before you hit the road.
Next consideration is equipment, when it comes to cycle touring its a case of the lighter the better, but that doesnt mean you can skimp on the important shizzle. Firstly do not even consider using a rucksack as it is just so uncomfortable. You want to use panniers on your bike rack- if your going away for like two weeks you may need panniers on your front AND back bike racks. For the 5 days i used two sets of bike kit (tshirt, cycle shorts and cycle socks) plus a long sleeved cycle top, and a lightweight rainjacket. For evening wear i had a pair of shorts and two tshirts plus a jumper and an oversized tshirt to sleep in. Some would consider this too much in the way of clothing but i like to stay comfortable and clean! I also strongly believe in plenty of spare pants and socks as after a long day on the bike or if it rains clean dry underwear is just the best thing ever. Also make sure you bring bike maintenance stuff- spare inner tube, spare tyre, puncture repair kit, oil etc just in case of emergency. And make sure at least one member of your group is okay at bike maintenance or you could end up a bit stuck!
Final thing before you go is making sure if your going abroad that you understand the rules of the road. I may have gone round a roundabout the wrong way in France…woops…
WHILE YOUR ON TOUR:
Be a nice cycle touring buddy and look after your other teammates- if they are struggling help out whether its just some encouraging words or if you need to take some of their equipment while they get up the hill being nice makes the whole experience better. Plus if your nice when they are struggling chances are they will be nice when you are struggling and at some point during the tour you probably will be!
Make sure you have regular breaks (every 10-15 miles or at the top of hills) to get off the bikes, have some sweets or a cereal bar and some water before continuing. And when its lunch time have a proper sit down and rest.These breaks make the whole day much more pleasant and don’t be afraid to stop to look at a village or take a picture- this isn’t the tour de France after all!
Start appling anti chaffing cream BEFORE you chaff as afterwards is too late and its so bloody uncomfortable!
Dont panic if you get lost- most of the time you dont need to turn round and go back the way you came you can have a look at the map and work out a slightly different route. This can stop you having to cover extra unnecessary miles. If your really lost you can always leave map work behind and use GPS on your phone or garmin device, or *gulp* ask a local for help.
Lastly but most importantly have fun, remember your on this tour of your own free will for enjoyment. Laugh at any misfortunes, look around you at the views and love being a cycle tourist!
I realise this was a rather long post so congrats to those of you who stuck it out 😉
Georgie WordPress for Phone app.