A cycling holiday with the usual suspects will fast become one of the highlights of your year. You’ll have countless stories to tell on your return, freshly marked tan lines to show off and any number of in-jokes to use in following years. Here are ten things that happen on every club cycling holiday.
You can almost guarantee that one among your number will flat on a ride, unzip their brand-new saddle bag and be greeted with a black hole. Make sure it isn’t you! If you’re transporting your own bikes overseas, all manner of disasters can strike before you even get to the airport. Taking apart bicycles is a stressful procedure, and you need to double- and triple-check that you’ve got everything. You won’t get very far without skewers, pedals or a seat post clamp.
At the end of a long hard slog in the mountains, the hotel buffet or restaurant menu will turn some of your group into rabid huntsmen. Although this is the one time and place when nearly anyone would probably let you off, you don’t see the pros stuffing their faces with everything within reach between stages. Worse though, would be overdoing it at the lunch stop. Many cycling holidays head for mountainous destinations frequented by cold and hungry skiers in the winter, and the portions at the local lodges do not diminish in size for the summer custom. Your already aching limbs will not thank you for taking on a huge, cheese-laden pizza or carbonara equalling half your body weight.
Crisply marked tan lines are a mark of the most enthusiastic and dedicated cyclist, even if they do look somewhat ridiculous poolside or under a casual t-shirt off the bike. Most of you will spend the evenings lethargically comparing levels of bronzing, until in comes that one person who has turned beacon red, doubtless blaming it on their Celtic blood, despite slathering themselves in excessive quantities of suncream each morning.
We all know that cycling can be a dangerous game. Luckily, Brits often find that everything about riding a bike feels safer on the continent, but there will still be moments when your body is shocked with adrenaline. Descending mountains, though exhilarating, will have its moments. You’ll overcook a corner, or experience speed wobble, prompting you to give yourself a little pep talk and perhaps ease off a bit. There’s also the very real possibility that you will be overcome with a sense of impending oblivion as you gasp up the hardest, hottest climb in the area.
No cycling holiday is free from excuses. One of your group will not have done enough training; slept badly; not eaten enough/eaten the wrong thing at breakfast; not put enough pressure in the tyres; “just not feeling it today”… The list of possible excuses is never-ending.
And that’s to say nothing of the pre-emptive mitigations. “This hill is going to wreck my knee, mark my words.”
This person will get a real ribbing, even more so than the chap who brought along an empty saddle bag. You’re all on your perfectly clean, newly-serviced, carbon fibre road bikes with a little more pressure in your tyres than on the pock-marked roads back home, and then you find yourself on a gravel track that looks distinctly like footpath. What’s more, the route planner will know they’ve gone wrong, but don’t expect them to own up to that!
It’s hot, you’re knackered, and you’re celebrating an epic day of Tour de France proportions. A cold beer in the hotel bar is a well-earned treat, but take care if you’re hoping to limit your intake. If your half of the group gets back first, you’ll already have a round in when the others return, but you’re too addled to get the message of moderation to your mouth in time: “Oh, go on then.”
There’s always one lean Rapha-clad rider, their legs chiselled and eyes hollow, who disappears up every climb. He knows he’s the fastest there and he makes sure you all know it too. He’ll also be the one who talks most about Strava: “Hey, look, I’m only three places behind Laurens Ten Dam up that segment.”
While cycling holidays are a chance to re-connect with old riding buddies, potentially even make new ones, there’s always that one friend that will chat your ear off even up the steepest of ascents. You struggle to drop them as they half wheel you the whole way, seemingly unfazed by the brutal gradient or spiralling temperature. All you can do is grin and bear it as you hear for the fourth time about their choice of gear ratio.
“150km, with 4,000m of elevation and four altitude passes? Why the hell not, we’re only here once!” Well, actually, you could always come back – and given the choice between a return to tick off those elusive Cols, or burning yourself out on day two, we’d always plump for the former. Cycling holidays are still holidays, after all, and there’s no reason to go back home a broken man or woman.
In extremis, setting out to ride more than you should can lead to some pretty sketchy rides home in the dusk or dark. There’s nothing worse than cycling through the pitch black on unfamiliar road with nothing but your phone screen’s light to help you peer through the darkness. The hum and flicker of the next village on your only beacon of hope.
Of course, while there are plenty of irksome elements to a cycling trip and a handful of pitfalls you’ll want to avoid – the overwhelming emotions you’ll get from a trip away with your bike are all positive. Riding bikes with friends in cool places is truly a recipe for success. If you’re in any doubt about signing up for that club trip, booking a place on a tour or planning your own adventure – we say do it, you won’t regret it for a second. Well, maybe for a second if point number 4 is to be believed, but not many seconds!
In all the excitement of planning and organising your epic trip it’s quite easy to forget about the small, but very important, matter of insurance. Whilst most trips pass off without incident, it’s never a good idea to leave things to chance. Cycling travel insurance from PedalCover was designed by cyclists for cyclists and will give you the peace of mind of knowing that if something goes wrong, you’re covered.
Find out more about our cycling travel insurance today.