Just imagine it: no worries about stuffing a waterproof jacket in your jersey pocket, developing those cycling tan lines, fantastic scenery, exciting new routes to discover, the chance to meet new people.
Mallorca, the Canary Islands, Corsica, Spain and France are all popular European destinations. Or, if you fancy somewhere further afield, how about America, Chile, South Africa or Australia! In line with the increase in cycling as a leisure activity, the availability of cycling package holidays has increased in recent years. A quick search for cycling holidays in France and you could very quickly be booked on a trip that will see you riding iconic Tour de France routes and challenging yourself to conquering climbs such as Mont Ventoux. Companies such as Exodus Travels and Ride & Seek organise trips all over the world and costs include travel, accommodation and food, guides and vehicle support and, depending on which holiday you choose, even local bike hire.
These kind of holidays are great if you like everything on a plate. But what if you want to do what YOU want to do?! Well, you can go completely DIY, do your homework, plan your routes and accommodation yourself. The downside is: what happens in the event of a mechanical or accident and you have no back-up plan?
The alternative is to arrange a bespoke holiday but to travel with a guide. If this sounds a more reassuring option, take a look at companies such as Richer Cycling. Richer Cycling is run by Richie Mitchell, an experienced cyclist who has worked on tours and events all over the world (and the UK!) and also supplies guiding services to Ride & Seek. He’ll work with you to design routes that will suit your experience, fitness and aspirations, as well as organising accommodation. Even better, you’ll be riding with a good ride leader and qualified cycle mechanic, so you don’t have to worry about a ruined day because you got lost or a wheel buckled.
With your holiday decided, the next biggest decision is likely to be whether to take your own bike or hire one locally. Hiring can often be easier, as long as you know you’ll have access to quality bikes – not usually a problem in popular destinations. Transporting a bike by plane requires very specific packing and there is obviously a fee involved.
And then there is the question of what to pack. If you’re staying in one place or having your luggage transported from one place to another, you can be fairly liberal in how much you take. If you need to carry everything in panniers, you’ll need to be a little more economical. Apart from the obvious gear you’ll need, here are a few useful things to add to your luggage:
- A Merino baselayer, which can be worn for days without smelling and then you don’t need to wash your jersey every day.
- Arm warmers and leg warmers in case it’s chilly first thing in the morning.
- Windproof gilet for cooler weather.
- A buff, brilliant in any weather.
And to make sure that everyone notices you when you reach the top of an arduous climb, you should obviously be wearing a Summit Different jersey to stand out from the crowd!
Don’t forget to take with you any of your preferred energy bars and gels. Make sure you have two bottle cages on your bike. And sun lotion and travel wash are a must!