What to pack for a European cycling holiday
I recently embarked on a cycling tour to Greece on Macs Adventure's Wine Roads of Ancient Greece route. I'd been training at home, but this was my first actual cycling holiday, where I'd need to consider a bit further ahead than one day's supplies of a waterproof jacket and a sandwich. The weather forecast said everything from 24 degree sunshine to 12 degree cloudy days, so I was going to have to be prepared. I didn't want to spend too much money, and I was a bit nervous about wearing lycra! I would imagine many first time cycling holiday-goers will feel similar, so here is my list which I hope anyone packing for a first-time cycling trip will find useful.
Arriving at Semeli Winery on a glorious day.
- Padded shorts x 2! (Wash one wear one)
- Lightweight quick-drying walking trousers with roll-up hems. Mine had a bit of stretch, and were loose enough to wear over the padded shorts. Make sure you have either zip-off bottoms or a button to roll up the hems like mine did and they will double up as cycling wear no problem.
- One for the ladies....cheap jersey dresses x 2. These were like vest dresses with a short skater skirt. I was a little timid about exposing myself to the world in Lycra, so these were great over the shorts! Think "tennis dress".
- Variety of vests and t-shirts (long and short sleeved, bright colours)
- Outdoor trainers. I didnt want to spend money on specific cycling shoes, but I have a comfortable pair of waterproof outdoor trainers, with an all-important stiff-sole. These were ideal.
- Lighweight waterproof and windpoof jacket. I didn't need it, but essential to have.
- Lightweight fleece x 2 for an extra layer, particularly if stopping for a break.
- Bright & reflective gilet. This was actually a running top, but ideal for a bright over-layer for any weather conditions and I would recommend something similar if you will be cycling on roads, even quiet ones.
- Lots of sports socks.
- Plus comfortable evening clothing with a change of shoes, and some smarter clothes for dinners.
Bright reflective running gear doubles as cycling gear!
Comfortable stiff-soled trainers were ideal cycling shoes.
- Gel saddle cover. Another new purchase, these slip over the existing saddle and are quite inexpensive and worth it.
- Sports bottle for water. We were provided these with our bikes but I prefered to use my own.
- Cycling helmet (of course). You can sometimes hire them, but they are so light to pack, and I much prefered the idea of my own.
- Mobile phone, money, credit cards... all the ususal travel essentials.
- Plastic bags for extra waterproofing of pannier bags.
- Fingerless cycling gloves x 1. These were a new investment and not expensive, but don't underestimate the value of them!
- Small rucksack with waist and chest straps.
- Sunglasses. Absolutely essential regardless of the weather, to keep the wind from your eyes. You can of course get specialist cycling glasses but I just used normal sunglasses.
All kitted out for Day 1!
- High Factor Sunscreen. I still managed to miss a bit and burn the back of my legs.
- Cold and hot pads (deep heat and deep freeze!) in case of muscle or joint pain.
- Small first aid kit including plasters, bandages, antiseptic cream and painkillers.
Keeping your bottom comfortable!
I was a little concerned about the impact of 7 days in the saddle, but with the combination of the padded shorts and the gel saddle, I was very comfortable, and would highly recommend investing in both. You can source them online at good value prices.
With the exception of the padded shorts, I found a lot of my running/walking/general outdoor clothing could be easily adapted to cycling without having to spend a lot of money. Try Evans Cycles for cycling gear in a variety of price ranges. Most bike hires with Macs Adventure come complete with pannier bags and/or often a handlebar bag, but I took a small rucksack too which was useful for extras. The bikes come with repair kits so you don't need to worry about that unless of course, you are taking your own bike when you'll need to add that to your list. I hope you found my packing notes useful, and are maybe feeling inspired to get in the saddle!