Some see covering miles of distance on two wheels with enough cereal bars to feed a football stadium and bags seemingly teetering off your bicycle from every available rack, handlebar, tube or seat post as grueling- and crazy. I find cycle touring can be one of the cheapest, most rewarding and best ways to see the world. There is nothing really comparable to the feeling of freedom- knowing everything you need is on your bicycle, and you are covering a huge amount of distance at exactly the right speed to take it all in, as well as smell it all and being small enough to stop just about anywhere and have a look around.
Theres no doubt that cycle touring takes a lot of preparation- however I have been known to cycle from London to Belgium with just a couple of days prep. Did you know with a bicycle- the ferry from Dover to Calais is only £20?! Thats the price of 6 pints… if you’re lucky!
Therefore, if you are preparing an epic cycle journey this summer- here are a few things to take into consideration to make it happen:
– Do you really need that? Less is always better! Unless you are happy to get rid of stuff along the way (which will inevitably happen to some extent), pack as little as possible. The situations when you will need that extra pair of ‘formal trousers’ will be extremely rare. Heavy fresh produce is great, but if you are traveling through towns and cities along the way- they will stock some! A huge comfy jumper is often out of the question- layers will keep you far warmer and are adaptable to all temperatures/ essential for sleeping in a tent at night.
– Ask locals. Often there are old railway tracks, cycle routes and a less busy roads that only locals can advise you on- don’t be shy, in general people love cycle tourers and are happy to give you directions, and in my experience some piece of free fruit, vegetable or cereal bar to keep you on the road.
– Make sure you have comfortable shorts. I cannot stress this enough.
– Find out if your touring buddy (unless you are riding solo) snores. Really- it’s important. If so, pack some earplugs. Covering large distances requires a good night sleep, especially if you are sharing a tent.
– Finally- make sure you have secure pannier bags and are happy with your bicycle arrangement. There is nothing more frustrating than realizing your heel smacks against your pannier bag on every pedal stroke or your pannier rack is wobbly. Have your bicycle checked by a mechanic before you set off, and familiarize yourself with basic repairs such as fixing a puncture/ replacing an inner tube, replacing a broken spoke, tuning your gears and tightening your brakes/ replacing your brake pads.
If you would like any preparation for a summer adventure, a maintenance class before hand to brush up on your skills, or need any parts or a pre-ride service, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
And remember to send us some photos!
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