Urban Cycling Holiday: Tips and Trips
There are many reasons why people choose to cycle. As we discovered in 10 Reasons Why People Cycle to Work, explanations ranged from happiness and health, to cost, calories and “not wanting to be stuck in a cage” (also known as the tube). Because riding a bike isn’t just about getting from A to B – health benefits aside, cycling offers up an opportunity for adventure, and there’s no better way to see the world than by bike. So, from sunscreen and figuring out washing symbols, to the best city breaks – we can show you what, where and how to cycle the world’s cities in style.
What to Carry: Essentials
It doesn’t matter whether you’ll be camping, glamping, or staying in an all-inclusive that piqued your interest; packing for a cycling trip takes preparation, practise and a whole lot of planning. Most cycling holidays include daily luggage transfers so you should only carry what you need for the day ahead. Take a bag that works on your bike (either a rucksack, Musette or pannier) and make sure you’re armed with the following essentials: water, sunscreen, spare inner tube, short fold-down pump, bike lock, lights, and duct tape or small puncture repair kit.
What to Wear
Riding a bike doesn’t have to involve lycra (as we bang on about time and again) – there are a number of stylish and practical options for the urban cyclist. However, it’s advisable to always check the washing symbols to ensure you understand how to keep your clothes clean and looking their best. Obviously no one wants to be doing laundry on holiday but by taking the time to not only read the washing symbols but understand what the washing symbols represent, you’ll be able to keep your clothing cleaning regime to a minimum and save your energy for the road. It’s a good idea to accessorise any outfit with cycling gloves, as this will prevent soreness and protect your hands from the sun, and most cycle tour companies insist that customers wear helmets. Check out our Style Guide for tips on which tops, base-layers, trousers and jackets to invest in – and always remember to choose clothes that are lightweight, versatile and appropriate for your expected conditions.
Where to go in… Europe
Some of the world’s most bike-friendly cities are right on our doorstep with Barcelona, Amsterdam, Seville and Copenhagen all well equipped with spacious bike lanes and cycle tracks. Most European train services will allow you to travel with your bike. The popular City Night Line runs overnight trains between major European cities and usually comes with a train carriage (but check first!), while you can also find some great ideas at Great Rail Journeys. Weather-wise it’s best to stick to cycling around Europe in the summer months (especially if camping) but don’t worry about accommodation as European travellers are well-catered for with plenty of campsites, hostels, hotels and holiday home rentals to choose from.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to leave the UK, Lonely Planet has a fantastic guide on British Cycling Tours available.
Where to go in… The World
Often named as one of the top five cities in the world for quality of life, Vancouver has put a lot of money into new cycling initiatives such as upgraded cycling routes, increased bicycle parking and a public bicycle system for short-term hire. In Japan, the people are also no strangers to cycling, with both Nagoya and Tokyo beginning to see fully protected bike lanes on their busiest streets. In Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, cycling is still a subculture, but there is the bonus of having over 300km of bicycle paths (and growing), with a casual attitude and more scenic approach to the routes.
If you’re simply not sure where you want to go, DoSomethingDifferent.com also showcases a whole bunch of cycling tours you can do – great for scouting out some location ideas.
Have you discovered any other great bike-friendly cities and tips for urban cycling? Let us know your favourite cities to cycle in by sharing your thoughts and recommendations in the comment box below.