Thinking of taking a cycling trip?
Combining a holiday and cycling is the ultimate adventure, but there’s a lot to think about, so where do you start?
We asked experienced cyclist, former Breeze rider and FLambassador, Adrienne Horne for her Top Tips
1:Type of trip
Choose what type of tour you want. There are usually two types, a led one where the leader will do all the navigating or a self navigated one.
The advantages of being in a led group is that you will never be on your own so it’s perfect if you like a bit of company and don’t want to worry about navigating or getting lost. The disadvantages are that you’ll have to ride at the groups pace and you will be riding with strangers, which is great if you like meeting new people, but canbe daunting if you’re shy.
I personally enjoy self navigation, I feel it’s more of an adventure and I can ride at my pace and stop whenever I feel like it, to take photos, loo breaks etc. without feeling like I’m holding up the rest of the group. I also enjoy my own company or very small groups and I don’t enjoy riding in big pelotons.
2: KIT KIT KIT
Trust me having a couple of pairs of decent padded shorts that you’ve worn on plenty of longer distance rides could make or break your trip. You should try out all your kit and get to know what’s comfortable, during the weeks leading up to your ride. Two days into a ride is not the best time to find out that those new shorts you bought have a seam that rub you in the wrong area!Loads of thin layers that you can put on and take off are also very useful because when you are riding all day the temperature will vary greatly.
3: Food and water
This has been a big issue for me, as I don’t feel hungry on the bike and all of the electrolyte drinks and energy gels give me tummy ache. I like to eat proper food that I can digest easily but this is such a personnel thing. You need to find out what works best for you during your training rides. I take small zip lock bags with salted nuts, dried fruit, sweeties and cereal bars. Depending on the terrain/distance I try to eat little and often (every 10-15 miles) and drink water or squash. This is just what works best for me, you will have to go out and experiment to see what works best for you.
4:Be kind to yourself
You will get tired and if you ask anyone who’s ever ridden a long distance with me I get GRUMPY!! and you know what? That’s ok!I used to get annoyed with myself for having a bad day or struggling up a hill that on any other day I wouldn’t have noticed and I’d have a whole conversation with myself about how I couldn’t do it and how stupid I was to think that I could and how much I hated cycling! I’ve learnt to accept the negative thoughts and just remind myself that I’m human, middle aged and have just ridden 300 miles so it’s okay to have a bad day, feel tired and have aches and pains.
Before you sign up for a big trip, be realistic about how much free time you have to train. It’s a huge commitment and you will have to decline social events etc., as you’ll need every weekend, especially in the weeks before your trip to train. The fitter you are beforehand, the more pleasant an experience you’ll have. Remember that hours in the saddle are more important than average speed and you need to train specifically for your trip, so if there are going to be loads of short sharp climbs, or long gradual climbs, ensure that you train accordingly.
6: Feed stop game
You will probably think I’m mad but this is a little mind game I always play on long distance training rides and it has been my savior on those really hard days when I’m tired, everything hurts and the thoughts of another long day cycling is filling me with dread.My favorite tea stop is Tanhouse Farm, which is a 25-mile ride, 13 miles there and 12 miles back. So I break all my long days into four either cycling to Tanhouse or home from there as it’s in small 12/13 mile chunks. So I divide my day up as follows:
100 miles is divided into four stops,
25 miles = Morning food
back on bike but only for another 25 miles until
50 miles = Lunch
back on bike but it’s only another 25 miles until
75 miles = Afternoon feed
back on bike only another 25 miles until100 miles= cold beer and more food of course