If you are planning a cycle tour this summer then there are a number of things you need to consider before you are ‘tour-ready’. Check out these top ten tips before setting off:
Ensure your bike is fit for purpose
Never, ever, ever, set off with a bike that’s not tour-ready. Check everything, from your tyres, gears, chain and brakes, is in top condition. Tyres must be inflated to their maximum PSI, your seat needs to be adjusted to the right height, and gears should be aligned correctly. You’ll find a properly set up bike will be a much more comfortable ride, as well as far more efficient.
Know the basics
We found out the hard way that going on a cycle tour without basic repair knowledge is a big mistake. The first tour Team Vivi ever went on ended with a ruined tyre and it cost us valuable time fixing it. At a bare minimum, know how to put your chain back on and change an inner tube. This means you’ll be able to fix a puncture and not worry about your chain coming off. Always have a repair kit with you, including a pump, tyre patch, a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a bike tool. Be prepared for flat tyres!
Get the right kit
Taking the right kit with you makes for a more enjoyable ride. You’ll regret it if you forget padded cycle shorts! Padded gloves also improve your grip and take the strain off your hands, especially when cold. Check out our cycling kits for inspiration! Clip-in shoes additionally help during longer rides as they transfer energy between your legs and pedals more effectively.
Most importantly, wear a helmet at all times.
Don’t try anything new on the day
You know when they say don’t go hiking with new hiking boots? This applies the same for cycling. All clothing, bike changes and nutritional products should have been worn or tested beforehand.
For example, if you decide to go with clip-in shoes, it’s always best to wear them in and get used to the clip-in, clip-out movement.
Get up to speed on drafting
Drafting helps make longer rides a lot easier! If you don’t know how to ‘draft’ then practice makes perfect. Especially for weaker riders in the group, drafting makes cycling significantly easier as the cyclist in front uses more energy. Essentially, it’s like slipstreaming. Be very careful when drafting as it can be dangerous if you are not a confident cyclist, hence the practice.
In windy conditions, it can make a big difference, but don’t forget to take it in turns at the front!
Fuelling is vital throughout. Make sure you have enough water bottles to regularly drink to stay hydrated. Use drinks with electrolytes for maximum hydration. Energy gels, protein bars and so on help provide a boost when the going gets tough. Read our blog on fuelling properly for more guidance.
Know your cycle tour traffic signals
Road safety is critical at all times, especially if cycling abroad. Always know the ‘rules of the road’ and obey them at all times i.e. stop at red lights and stop signs, and signal properly when turning.
Learn basic hand communications
When leading the group, hand signals are a great way to keep everyone safe. You should know the hand signals to indicate upcoming hazards, vehicles, potholes, slow down and stop. Additionally, shouting ‘clear’ when turning lets others know if the upcoming road is safe for them to turn onto.
Being stiff when starting day 1 of a cycle tour is one of the worst things. Training should be finished a minimum of three days before you leave to ensure your muscles have fully recovered and are raring to go. At the end of each day cycling, make sure you recover properly so you are ready for the next day. This includes hydrating effectively and eating a balanced meal of carbs and protein.
Plan your route
There is nothing more annoying than having to keep stop-starting due to wrong turns or not knowing the way. You can add on many-a-mile from wrong turns. It can make for long hours on the saddle and also saps energy. Ensure your route is well planned, particularly when cycling abroad.
Relax & enjoy
It’s all too easy to forget to actually enjoy it. A cycle tour is an amazing way to see the great outdoors whilst doing something active. There’s no need for nerves or stress. If you follow the above tips, your cycle should be stress-free. Remember to go at your own pace, stretch regularly, take in deep breaths and don’t be afraid of fuelling breaks!
If you need any help with your next cycle tour, get in touch! The Vivi Nation team are well versed in tackling route planning, logistics and training.