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A cycling holiday, whether in the UK or abroad, is a great way to travel and see the countryside at your own pace. But it takes some planning and a good deal of thought to make it into the adventure you are hoping for.
Firstly, you have to decide where you want to go. The UK, Europe or further afield? How will you get to and from your start and finish points; car, train, ferry or plane? Do you want to rough it in a tent or do you prefer a little more comfort? Here’s a few top tips for planning your trip.
1) Build Up Your Fitness
If your cycling exploits are usually confined to doing a few miles at the weekend, or even if you use your bike to commute on a daily basis you should do a bit of training before your holiday. It is a very different prospect riding on back to back days for a week or two and possibly covering much longer distances than you are used to. It’s not always easy fitting in training rides around a busy work schedule but getting out as often as possible will help to prepare you and make your holiday more enjoyable, and less saddle sore.
2) Plan Your Budget
You have a number of options when you’re planning your holiday which will depend on how much you want to spend. You can take your own bike or hire one which means comparing the price of transporting yours to the cost of hiring. Staying on camp sites, or in hostels or hotels or even a combination of these will depend on how flexible your budget is. Some countries including Scotland and certain places in England and Wales allow wild camping which really keeps the costs down.
For an extra cost there is the option of a guided cycling holiday. On these your overnight stops are planned for you and with some of them your bags are taken ahead by minibus. Plan how much you want to spend and stick to your budget.
3) Get Your Bike Ready
Your bike’s fitness is as important as your own so, if you are taking your own bike, make sure you give it a thorough service before you go, or have it done by a pro. Gears, brakes, cables and chain should be checked. Tyres should be in good enough condition to cover the extra miles you’ll be doing. Any squeaks or rattles will drive you crazy over a week or more of daily riding so lubricate, tighten and adjust where necessary. This will help to avoid an accident due to a malfunction.
4) Discuss Your Goals
If you’re going on your own you’ll have your own ideas of what you want from your holiday, and you can change your plans at any time. However, if you’re going with a partner, friend or in a group, everyone needs to agree on the type of holiday each of you want. Do you plan on doing as many miles as possible each day, or making frequent stops along the way? Do you want to have chill out pool days or go sightseeing? If you’re all agreed on your expectations, there’s less chance of falling out along the way.
5) Plan Your Route
You’ve decided on the area you’re going to ride but, before planning your route, you need to decide the start and finish points. You might have to get back to an airport, ferry port or your car, but you can plan a one-way ride and return by train.
Once you start to plan your route, you will have to decide where you want to stop each night. This depends on far you want to travel and what you want to see and do. You should try and build in some flexibility and not overstretch yourself. There might be a day when you don’t want to ride so far, or you could find an amazing place where you’d like to spend some more time. It’s a holiday so don’t be too rigid.
6) Travel Light
When you’re going on a package holiday you can take as many clothes as you like and it doesn’t matter if you don’t wear them all. On a cycling holiday you want to take the bear minimum. When planning your overnight stops, check out places that have laundry facilities. You’ll have your most comfortable cycling gear and some clothes for the evening, but you won’t need a set for every day of your holiday if you can wash them along the way. If you wild camp you can wash yourself and your clothes in a river or lake, but never use detergent or soap as they are harmful to that environment, even eco-soap.
7) Safety and Security
It’s easy to relax and let your guard down when you’re on holiday but you should always keep safety in mind. You will have already made sure that your bike is fit for your journey and wearing a helmet will be second nature to you. You probably won’t be intending to do much night riding, but wearing reflective bands and bright clothing makes you easier to see in the day.
For your security, take as few valuables with you as possible, and those you do take keep with you all the time. Unless you’re a roving journalist, you should be able to do without a laptop on holiday! It might be obvious, but never leave your bike unattended, even for a couple of minutes, without securely locking it to something immovable. Bike thieves are opportunists looking for a quick getaway.
8) In Case of an Accident
You can take all the possible precautions for your safety but you can’t control the actions of other road users. If you are involved in an accident which is not your fault always make sure that the police are called, even if the damage and/or injuries are minor. You may be entitled to make a bicycle accident claim in the UK and the more evidence you have the stronger your claim will be.
Good planning will make for a great cycling holiday!