Setting off on a cycling tour is the best feeling in the world: sun, fresh air and the promise of the open road. Except sometimes, bad weather will strike, cables snap on a mountain pass, and when you arrive in town with your last drop of energy spent, there’s no room at the inn.
However, as the following cycling tour survival guide shows with careful planning – and some household items we often take for granted, your DIY cycling tour can be greatly enhanced. Eat Sleep Cycle founder Brian shares his words of wisdom.
ESSENTIAL HOUSEHOLD ITEMS FOR DIY CYCLING TOURS
Here is a list of things you should always pack before heading away on a cycling holiday…and why
Why? No support car driver likes anything moving around in the back and if you respect your bike, you should never allow anything hard come into contact with any part of it! There is no uglier mark on a bike than a pedal scraping the chainstay or seat stay, and it can all be avoided by packing everything neatly and tightly together. The best way to achieve this is bringing some bungee cords!
Bubble wrap and/or cardboard
You can’t even imagine the horror of what your bike goes through on some flights and some transfers so eliminate the risk of damage by bringing your own packing material. 9 metres of bubble wrap will set you back about €4 and this will protect your precious frame from being scratched. Bubble wrap+bungee cords = happy bike.
Your hands will get sticky when that energy gel bursts, when you need to remount a dropped chain and when you’ve reached into your pocket for a mushy energy bar. You’ll get chainring marks on your right leg and probably your shoes too. Your face will be covered in chocolate – and your bidons too, so keep yourself neat and tidy with a simple baby wipe.
Does it even need an explanation? This week alone we found masking tape useful when building a cardboard bike box for shipping, for taping cardboard and bubble wrap to frames pre-flight and pre-transfers. If you’re feeling pro taped the day’s profile to your stem.
Is there anything worse than descending a climb in the cold with your chest taking those icy gales? Yes there is….stepping into a pair of wet cycling shoes you forgot to dry out after yesterday’s ride. Thankfully, a newspaper forms a brilliant wind protector and it can be very neatly tucked under the straps of your bib shorts. Simply bin it at the bottom and you’ve perhaps avoided picking up a nasty cold. As for the shoes, stuff a sheet of paper towards the top of each and have bone dry feet the next day!
Tunnels are common in Europe, especially in the French Alps and Italy. Many have ways around them but some are unavoidable. They can be scary places as there’s often no hard shoulder. Solution? Front and back lights. They weigh nothing, cost a pittance, and could save your life.
Is there anything more frustrating than running out of charge on your bike or worse, your computer dies six hours into a seven-hour day? Don’t expect hotels to supply the adaptor so bring your own.
Keys, cards, cash, phone and map. Keep them dry and keep them together by using a sandwich bag.
Keep those feet warm and dry on icy cold days by packing some tin foil into the top of your shoes, over your socks. Yes, the Galibier and the Stelvio can be freezing, even in July, so take no chances!
If you’re doing your own DIY Cycling Tour we’d love to hear if any of these tips came in handy. Let us know in the comments below. If this has put you off taking the plunge and going it alone, we can help – check out our supported cycling tours!