You learn about yourself when faced with 100-mile rides day after day for four weeks. Those lessons are amplified when it gets wet. Some simple daily housekeeping and a little planning can make the difference between having a fun ride and abject misery.
This article is the first in a series of cycle touring tips. We have put together a few tricks learned on the road. If you are getting ready to go on a cycling holiday or endurance ride, you will find these tips helpful.
Cycle touring tips – pack light
First of all, pack as light as you can. You need far less clothing than you might think. Cycle gear dries out quickly, and you do not need to take endless changes of shorts and jerseys. Three bib sets, three jerseys, three pairs of socks, a gilet, and a good jacket, are enough to complete a 1500 mile ride. Make sure you rinse out and dry the clothes you have been wearing every couple of days to keep things relatively fresh and hygienic. Chamois cream needs rinsing out of shorts regularly.
Cycle touring tips – Buy decent luggage gear.
Waterproof cycling gear is your best friend on a long trip. Budget enough to buy good-quality bags and associated equipment. As he was forty miles into his third day on a journey in the South of France, Sean discovered the second-hand panniers he bought were not waterproof. When the rain was at its worst, Sean stopped to grab a rain jacket. Every item of clothing in his bag was soaked. Be less like Sean!
Cycle touring tips – Double wrap important stuff
Have some inner bags for essential items. We recommend that all technology, credit cards, passports, and paperwork be double wrapped. If you can, keep one of your spare sets of clothes in an inner bag too. Crashes happen, and a punctured outer liner will leak.
Cycle touring tips – Load evenly.
Rather than loading forty litres of kit into two rear panniers, spread the load out around the bike. Far better to have a lighter rear bag, handlebar bags, fork bags and a frame bag than two bulky panniers. If you need to take camping gear and lots of specialised equipment, consider having front and rear luggage panniers to distribute the heavy load.
Road bike riders especially benefit from this tip. We want to keep handling sharp when traveling faster. Having everything biased to the bike’s rear will make your front-end handling vague, and your bike will want to pull a wheelie at every opportunity.
Cycle touring tips – Develop a pre-ride routine when packing.
Routine is your friend, and by sticking to a set pattern, you will learn to spot potential issues. When you turn the pedals for the first time on any given day, you don’t want nagging doubts in your mind. You need to ensure everything is packed correctly and put the right equipment in the correct bag. Knowing which bag something is in will save irritating roadside searches.
Get up with enough time for adequate food, cursory route checks, and a bike inspection. Also, don’t forget to charge all computers and emergency phones every night. Laying out your day’s nutrition and checking off essential items like your emergency phone can save the day.
We will share more cycle touring tips with you in future articles. Also, don’t forget to check our article on the best waterproof luggage systems.
Enjoy the ride