Planning a cycling holiday can be stressful but don’t give up, these trips are great experiences and can transform your riding and enjoyment on the bike. In this guide, we’ll go through the process of planning a cycling trip, how to prepare and list the essentials you will need to take with you.
Where to go
The first thing to decide is where you want to travel to. Will you look for destinations within the UK or set your sights abroad? This is probably the most important early decision as it dictates everything from prices to accommodation to the riding you’ll do.
The two factors that are most decisive here are terrain and weather. If you want the best of the weather in the UK it makes sense to plan for summer, but these areas will naturally be far busier. With that in mind, the best times both at home and abroad are often during the spring and autumn months. It may be cooler, but the riding is still great, and the areas are far quieter.
When it comes to destination, we’ve done a lot of the leg work for you. We have guides on Sicily, Bavaria, Portugal, Bordeaux, Basque Country and Spain to get you started. Alternatively, our Great British bike rides series includes guides on London, Snowdonia, Cairngorns, Peak District, Lake District, Scotland and South Wales. Plenty of inspiration for your travels.
What to take
Next, it’s time to think about the kit essentials. Make sure to pack a couple of days in advance of travelling so that you’re not rushed and don’t forget a crucial bit of kit… or your passport, touch wood. Don’t assume that every destination will have a bike shop with plenty of equipment and tools to keep you riding – create a packing list of the things you will need. You should plan to take all the crucial tools, cycling kit, wet weather wear, safety gear and extra layers that you may need. Also make sure to pack some nutrition products (that you’ve tested in advance so you know it works for you), casual clothes, gadgets and travel gear. Of course, some pieces very much depend on the conditions you are riding in, so we suggest breaking it up into packing categories:
Cycling kit – You won’t get far without it. Think jerseys, bib shorts, socks, cycling shoes, helmet, warmers, jackets, rain cape, gilet, gloves and sunglasses.
Bike essentials – Once you’ve packed (or planned to hire) a bike, don’t forget your tools! You’re going to need a hand pump, chain lube, a few spare inner tubes, puncture repair kit, tyre levers, multi tool, powerlink and chain splitter, pedal tool, pedals (if you’re hiring) and perhaps even spare brake pads and a mech hanger if you’re to be 100% self-sufficient.
Accessories – You will probably be out all day, and in a new part of the world too, even if you’re staying in the UK. You’ll need a bike computer and/or maps to keep you on the straight and narrow, front and rear lights to keep you going in mornings and evenings, and if you’re planning super long days in the saddle, you might consider handlebar and saddle bags that you can stuff full of food and extra layers. Don’t forget a lock too for peace of mind overnight and while you’re enjoying your leisurely lunch in the sun.
Travel – It’s been so long since we’ve felt freedom to roam, so take your time with this next bit if you’re out of practise! There are a couple of things that if forgotten will keep you grounded: don’t forget your passport for international trips, phone and charger, first aid kit, travel documents (remember to check new EU regulations), cards and currency, etc.
Miscellaneous – Finally you need all the other things that you would take on any old holiday. Think water bottles, snacks, non-cycling clothes, wash kits, bug spray, toiletries and the all-important sun cream (it can come out in UK, we promise). Oh, and hand sanitiser will never go amiss…
How to prepare
No matter where the destination is, starting your preparation well in advance of the travel date is important. We understand that some riders prefer the happy-go-lucky approach once on holiday, but without some prior thought and at least a little training, your trip will be very short. You will of course be doing a whole load of riding once you’re out there, but to get the most out of your trip, you will need to put some time into training before you leave. You don’t want to plan a week-long camp and then hitting the wall on day one. So, start building up your time in the saddle on consecutive days, even if it’s just local exploration or commute rides. You will thank us later when you have an ace cycling holiday, and you’ll come back stronger too.
Pedal Cover also has a part to play, and we believe we are a cycling holiday essential. Our home and bike insurance will cover your bikes wherever in the world you decide to take them. Click here to find out more about our comprehensive coverage.
Whether you’re heading for the lochs and hills of Scotland or the sun and mountains of Southern Europe, this checklist should come in handy. All that’s left is to enjoy a great trip with plenty of fantastic cycling experiences.
Words: Oskar Skarsbrook