It is only when you are on a cycling holiday (Mallorca in April, if you're asking!) that you discover all the little – and sometimes bigger – things that can make your cycling holiday just that bit happier. Here are 15 tips.
Right time to go
If you like your cycling holidays with sunshine but not too hot (as most people do), choose Europe in early or late summer. April or May and September or October are perfect for a trip to more southern areas of Europe. Going earlier or later in the traditional holiday season means you will find that flights and tours are cheaper.
Less is more
Popular cycling holiday destinations such as southern Spain, Mallorca and the Canaries will have fewer tourists outside of the British school holidays. Alternatively, look for locations that are emerging as popular cycling destinations to avoid the crowds, such as Crete, Rhodes, Corsica, Croatia, Slovenia and less “resorty” areas of mainland Spain, Italy and Greece.[caption id="attachment_19045" align="aligncenter" width="100%"] Cycling in rural Slovenia.[/caption]
Book a tour
It’s much easier to enjoy a cycling holiday where your luggage is transferred between accommodations for you. If you book a cycling tour holiday you will also have the benefit of planned routes and suggested places to stop for food and attractions.
Stay in one place
An alternative to a cycle tour holiday is to stay in one place and explore the local area by bike each day. Again, a cycling holiday company will know the best places to ride and can suggest day routes for you. Knowing that you have a good quality accommodation to return to each evening makes cycling all the better.
Book bike hire
You can choose to take your own bike overseas with you but with the growth of cycling holidays you’ll find there are many rental companies offering good quality bike hires for around the same cost as taking a bike bag on a plane.
If you are not sure about the best places to go for a cycling holiday you can be sure that keen cyclists will know. Check out cycling forums or ask cycling friends for tips.[caption id="attachment_19040" align="aligncenter" width="100%"] Enjoy easier - or recovery - days on a cycling holiday.[/caption]
Take it easy
Depending on your experience and fitness you may well want to do some longer days in the saddle. Some cyclists also like to plan days of hillier routes. But it’s a good idea to have a day of easier cycling or fewer miles just so that when the harder days come you are in good shape to enjoy them.
If it’s an early or late season trip the weather might not always be warm and sunny. It’s the chance you take for less crowded destinations. So a few useful accessories will include arm and leg warmers (roll these into a ball and pop them in a back pocket when not in use) and a lightweight windproof and/or waterproof jacket.
Lots of bottles
Take two bottles with you for your cycling holiday. Use one larger bottle for water and the other for carrying useful extras such as a bike tool, arm warmers and a gilet or jacket. Many hire bikes come with a saddle bag that has tyre levers and a spare inner tube but nowhere else to carry its and pieces. Of course, you can also make use of your back pockets in your cycling jersey but a spare bottle is also a great receptacle, especially if you want to keep things dry and dust free.
The sun will burn you in all kinds of odd places when cycling, such as knees, back of the legs and inside of the arms and wrists. Make sure you apply high factor sun lotion to these areas.[caption id="attachment_19042" align="aligncenter" width="100%"] Good food is vital on a cycling holiday.[/caption]
Plan your cycling day to include cafe stops for coffee, drinks and lunch. After all, you’re on holiday so there is no need to punish yourself with dozens of miles and only an energy gel for fuel.
Carry snacks for those in-between-cafe-lack-of-energy moments. A handful of Jelly Babies works wonders for re-fuelling.
After each cycling day – and before you open the first beer – take 10 minutes to stretch tired muscles. If you are staying somewhere that has a swimming pool or close to the sea, you can aid the recovery of tired muscles by standing in cold water for 15 minutes. Many athletes swear by the cold water treatment and I have found it works well, too.
Add a foam roller
A foam roller is a great way to ease the stress and strain of cycling on the legs and back. These days you can buy foam rollers that are smaller and easily transportable. The best way to pack a roller in your suitcase is to push clothes inside the tube to minimise the space it takes up.[caption id="attachment_19041" align="aligncenter" width="100%"] Mix in hilly days with easier days, such as climbing Mt Ventoux.[/caption]
There will be times when the cycling feels tough, such as up long hills, into a headwind or after many miles, but if you think about what you would be doing if you were back home it will remind you that cycling is far better than work, housework or cooking a meal. These thoughts always make me smile on a cycling holiday!
Tell us what tips make your cycling holidays happier.