Travelling by bike: a beginner’s guide
Traveling by bike can make you feel free, strong and proud of yourself. And your trip does not need to span a whole country or a continent. Even a short trip within your own province or a weekend in the saddle to a nice farmhouse can give you the same emotions. But how do your prepare for a bike trip? We have all the answers for you.
Things to consider first
Before getting caught by the enthusiasm and buying a touring , consider a few things. Where do you want to go? Whom do you want to go with? How long will your trip last? What are the essentials that you will need for the trip?
To start with use your bike to go on small excursions, taking with you the bare minimum and try to understand if this way of getting around excites you. It will give you an idea of what it means to travel by bike and how far are you willing to take it.
Choice of right bike
Choosing the right bike for traveling depends on many factors, first and foremost the trip you want to do.
Walking bikes, for example, are ok for short distances and for non-bumpy routes, such as dirt country roads.
Racing bikes are definitely light and make you go faster, but they lack stability on dirt roads and have little room for luggage.
The right bike has a mix of wheel stability and comfort, because traveling means spending many hours in the saddle and the ability to change position.
If you can afford it, buy the bike in a specialized shop, because, beyond the guaranteed technical assistance, the staff is able to suggest the right height and make a tailor-made setup. Furthermore, in a shop, if you make a major purchase (like a – or two bikes in my case) it is more likely that you will receive a gift, such as a helmet, lights or other accessories, or you can avail deals such as tredz discount code.
If you are traveling as a couple or in a group, buy identical bikes. Not to be matchy-matchy and like on Instagram, but for convenience. Same means same spare parts, so when you’re on the road you don’t need to carry two sets of different parts and tools.
You cannot leave without these items.
- Front and rear lights: in some countries they are mandatory. I recommend those rechargeable via USB;
- Helmet: Do not take the city helmet but the professional ones.
- Padded pants: you don’t need to dress like a professional cyclist, you can travel with a windbreaker and technical t-shirts. But padded pants are a must, otherwise your butt will hurt so much.
- Gloves: apparently superfluous, they are necessary to avoid the formation of unpleasant calluses on the palm of the hand;
- Water bottles: at least one pair each.
- Cyclist or Mask Goggles: a fitted mask model protects you from insects, wind and sun. At the very least have sunglasses with you.
- Padlock: if during the trip you stop to visit the cities you pass, you cannot do without it.
- A puncture kit, Allen and wrenches, a small pump and a multitool with a chain tool: this requires a minimum of familiarity with the mechanics of the bike. Learn how minimal interventions are done, there are a thousand tutorials on YouTube.
You can get all this when buying your bike. Buying all your things together means you can get a discount. If not together then keep an eye out for special promotions like tredz discount code or holiday sales.
Traveling by bike: what about your luggage?
There are organized trips that provide for the transport of luggage during the journey. But most cyclist prefer to travel the old-fashioned way, with luggage mounted on the bike.
There are several possible arrangements for carrying luggage, which depend on the characteristics of the bike and the type of trip. If the bike has a luggage rack, for example, you can mount bags such as those of the postman which are very roomy and solve many space problems. But the bike will be heavier.
The golden rule of cycle tourism is the same as trekking: everything you carry with you; you have to carry it with your own strength.
So, it’s best to travel very light, with:
- A handlebar bag, containing clothes.
- A saddle bag: containing clothes, spare shoes, phone charger and other electronic devices.
- One from the frame: with guide, hygiene products and spare parts.
- A small bag to keep documents and a mobile phone.
No matter how you travel, it is always recommended that you get some kind of insurance. When travelling by bike it is even more essential because you are on the road more often.
Most insurance companies have packages designed specifically for travellers like yourself. So take advantage of such packages and never making a travel plan without acquiring some kind of insurance.