How to prepare for your first road cycling holiday
Cycling is fast growing in popularity, with many more people joining the revolution of recent years and using a bicycle as a mode of transport: whether for commuting to the office, to keep fit or for holiday tours. We have a range of cycling tours, from family friendly cycling holidays to mountain biking trips to road cycling holidays. Read why so many people enjoy a cycling holiday in 9 reasons to holiday by bicycle.
The rise of road cycling holidays
Increasingly, it’s road cycling that is the first choice for many cycle tourers. They enjoy the smooth tarmac of road cycling, the speed of getting from A to B, the chance to ride iconic mountain passes or cross-country routes and the opportunity to get fit while on holiday. If you fancy a road cycling holiday this year, read our tips to getting ready for your first cycle tour.
The right tour choice
You should be realistic about the type of cyclist that you are. You might have aspirations to ride 100 miles a day for seven days and over some of Europe’s most epic mountain passes, but are you really fit enough for that and will that add up to an enjoyable holiday for you? Choosing a holiday to suit your experience, fitness levels and also offering you the chance to explore places and attractions along the way is your first important decision. You could choose a road cycling holiday that is more leisurely but still rewarding; tougher for a few days but easier on other days; or a full-on road cycling trip that includes many miles and lots of hill climbs. Being honest with yourself is the key to the best cycle tour holiday.
The best cycling holiday partner
It’s important to consider who will enjoy the same holiday as you. It might be that you have a partner who is a keen cyclist, or perhaps a friend will be a great holiday companion. Then again, going solo on a cycle tour trip also brings great rewards. And there is no point in hoping that your friend or partner will suddenly turn into a Tour de France style racer if, in reality, they much prefer a shorter outing at their own easy-going speed. If you want to ride more – or less – miles each day, choose the right person to book your trip with or go solo and join a group of other like-minded riders.
Hills or the flats
Again, the choice of holiday cycling tour, hilly or flat, will depend on what you most like. Some people really do like cycling hills and mountains each day while others prefer flatter terrain. While others relish a mountain climb...[/caption] Alternatively you could choose a holiday that includes a mix of both. For example, you could cycle in Provence and add in a climb of Mont Ventoux.
How to train for a cycling holiday
The training will depend on the holiday you have booked. You need to build up to being able to comfortably manage the daily mileage and the total ascent. You should book your trip far enough ahead so you can increase your fitness and endurance to be ready for an enjoyable cycling holiday. If you do not have enough months to train and you go out and ride too fast, too soon you’ll end up with sore muscles and feeling so exhausted that you might never want to get on your bike again. Start with a couple of rides each week that you can easily manage. Each week, add up to 10% more mileage. Do these rides on a day when you have more time. You can then build up to being able to ride a longer distance on two consecutive days. Also add in a shorter, harder bike ride each week, for example on a week-day evening to improve muscle strength If you are training through the winter or the weather isn’t too good, think about attending a weekly spin session or doing some sessions on a turbo trainer indoors.
The right kit for your cycle holiday
Like your fitness, the kit to take on a cycle trip should be all about tried-and-tested. Don’t pack clothing you have not worn before because it might end up being uncomfortable. As a minimum for a week of a sunny road cycling holiday, you’ll want to pack:
- Two pairs of cycling shorts (most people wear padded although you an choose between tight-fitting or loose-fitting shorts)
- Two short-sleeved cycling jerseys
- Cycling gloves
- Arm warmers or a long-sleeved cycling jersey (these can be useful when starting out on chilly mornings or when you are descending a mountain)
- Windproof gilet and/or lightweight windproof/waterproof jacket
- Bike shoes and pedals (bring your won if you are hiring a bike)
- Several pairs of socks
- Comfortable sports bras for women
- Two water bottles
- Puncture repair kit, spare inner tubes and bike pump (if you are hiring a bike you will be provided with these)
- High-factor sun cream
- Chamois/butt cream
- Casual evening wear
Useful extras include:
- Leg warmers
- Buff or neckwear
- Energy gels or snacks
- Bike gadget that tells you speed, distance and location
To hire or not to hire a bike
The choice is yours… Read our guide to the pros and cons of hire or taking your own bike. If you do plan to take your own bike make sure it’s fully serviced before leaving home and it’s a good idea to replace old tyres with new ones. If you have any other questions about preparing for a road cycling holiday, get in touch with our experts.