It’s becoming more and more popular each year: traveling by bicycle. It’s budget-friendly, healthy, challenging, and so many more benefits. Cycling is for those who like to go at their own pace, improvise, and get carried away. After all these months in lockdown, the idea of moving freely on a bike is an exciting prospect. So, are you a true adventurer or are you looking for a new experience? Grab your bicycle from your wall mount and get ready to see the world through a whole new perspective!
Practice makes perfect. The same goes for cycling. If you’re a beginner, don’t think you can do an intermediate or advanced route. You use all kinds of muscles, maybe in a different way than you’re normally used to while cycling. Get used to riding a bicycle before you go and do the trip.
Cycling is physically demanding, it requires energy. To obtain this energy, you will need to eat, drink, and sleep well. Your body needs a balanced diet: proteins to aid in muscle recovery and growth, plenty of carbs to fuel your workout, and healthy fats to reduce inflammation and help to absorb nutrients.
Keeping your liquid levels topped up is important. Dehydration can lead to mental as well as physical fatigue. Deciding how much to drink can range widely based on many variables. Your physiology plays a significant role; how much you sweat and at what rate your body loses sodium is highly individual. Other factors are the intensity of your workout and weather conditions.
A general rule of thumb is to aim for a bottle an hour. There is a multitude of options to put in your bottle. Depending on your hydration and nutrition needs, this could be as simple as plain water or a sports mix.
Proper rest and sleep are every bit as critical as a proper training plan or diet. Pay attention to your rest schedule and your ability on the bike will climb to new heights. A good rest schedule should include periods of each day and proper sleep during the week.
Organize your trip
Just like an ordinary trip by car or plane, organize your trip a few weeks before. This way you can prevent unforeseen events as much as possible. Make a list of every necessity you need to bring during your trip. Make sure you adapt it to your trip, expected weather conditions, and your destination or route.
Research your route
Perhaps it’s your first time planning a bike trip to a certain stopover or destination, but you're certainly not the first one who did. Throughout the world, numerous routes that have been specially adapted for cyclists. Take a look at existing routes on blogs, forums, and tourist websites. This will save you a lot of time and maybe you will find some extra tips or highlights from locals.
Don’t set a route just to cover as much distance as you can. Set a destination according to your abilities, adapt to your level of experience, and the most important one: enjoy!
Pick a suitable bicycle
Pick a bike that suits the needs of your trip. Obviously, you should not pick a race bike for riding off-road in the mountains. Especially for the real adventurers among us who want to take their bike for a few weeks or months, keep in mind that your bike is suitable to carry (lightweight) saddlebags.
It doesn’t matter what your destination will be, there are a few essential bike accessories, to start with lights and reflectors. Look up bike lights and reflectors and you will see there are countless ways to illuminate your bike. Whichever option you go with - from LED rear lights to pedal lights to tire spoke reflectors – make sure you’re in line with the local bike laws.
The more weight you carry, the more you have to drag along the way. Travel light and get rid of all the items you don’t need. If you are traveling with multiple saddlebags, try balancing with less weight on the front and heavier bags on the rear end.
Even if cycling without a helmet is legal in your country, it is your responsibility to protect your head. The most experienced riders wipe out from time to time. Not to mention you can’t control the choices made by pedestrians, motorists, animals, or other cyclists you encounter during the ride. When selecting a helmet, make sure you select a helmet to your head size which will protect you against head and brain injuries.
You put a lot of money into your bike. No matter what kind of bike you have, a bike lock is a must-have bike accessory. Unfortunately, you can’t completely prevent bike theft. However, you can reduce the chance of your bike being stolen. What type of lock you choose, depends on how concerned you are about bicycle theft and the weight you want to carry with you along the ride. Cable locks are convenient but are only advisable for low-crime areas. For a tougher steal, try chain locks or U-locks. Pro tip: position your wheel in a way that your valve is close to your lock. In this way, it’s difficult for a thief to steal your bike without damaging your wheel.
Smartphones are essential for a long bike ride. You can track your performance and navigate on long trips. Buy a smartphone bike mount to prevent unnecessary stops or unsafe driving actions.
The choice of what clothes to take with you is strongly dependent on the weather and climate you’re going to cycle. Don’t invest too much money in clothing if you plan to ride and camp mostly at temperatures above 0℃ (32℉). Most of the time, using ordinary sports clothes and maybe one or two bike jerseys will be just fine. Bike (over)shoes, sunglasses, and gloves are essentials for every trip.
Learn the basics about mechanics
You don’t need to be an expert, but at least know the basics, such as how to patch a flat tire or how to fix your bike chain. Try to do daily maintenance to reduce the possibility of breakdowns. A small bike kit tool may come in handy during the trip.
With these tips to prepare a bike trip you will be ready to take the road and live one of the most exciting experiences of your live.