Preparation for anything in life normally makes the experience better and cycling is no different. Comfort is a key area to think about. The type of shorts you wear will make a huge difference so find some and test them before setting off. There are male/female specific and many different types and thicknesses of ‘insert’ (that’s the spongy bit that protects your bottom). Make sure you have enough pairs of shorts that you can have a fresh pair each day, either by number of them or being able to wash them at night.
Cycling jerseys should be breathable and comfortable. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a specific cycling jersey, a running or hiking top is just as effective. As long as it draws perspiration from your body and dries quickly then that is the most important.
Have an idea of the type of weather in the region that you are travelling to when making your decision on clothing. Items such as waterproof clothing should be light and breathable, hopefully rain is not something you will have to contend with, but better to have it with you. If your rain jacket is not breathable you could get just as damp under the jacket.
Cycling gloves are good as it is surprising how chafed the hands can get, also as they are padded, they absorb some of the vibrations of the track.
Sun cream is essential. Being out in the open air often being cooled by the wind, it is easy to get burnt, so apply enough and often.
“Sudocrem” or a similar product for protecting the parts that come into contact with the saddle, as I mentioned already if that area is sore then cycling will no longer be fun so please look after your behind!
Water bottle, hopefully you will be in warm and sunny climes but whatever the weather, do not get dehydrated. Sip often and look to drink at least 2 litres each day.
Sunglasses will protect your eyes from strong sun but also from dust off the road and track.
For your own peace of mind, remember to take - All instructions from your tour operator regarding the route, hotels where you will be staying, bike hire, and contact numbers should there be a hiccup.
When you are packing, think carefully about what you will really need when you are not on your bike. Leave your tiara and ball gown at home, just take comfy clothing that is light and cool and a warmer jacket or jumper to wear in the evening.
How to prepare physically
We’ve talked about what to take with you but equally important is that your engine is fully serviced and ready to go, by the engine I mean you. If it is at all possible, try to do similar route lengths before you leave and on similar terrain, i.e., if it is a hilly tour you will be doing, ride some hills at home. Better to have tried it before your holiday, therefore nothing is a surprise once on your chosen track.
If you can ride 2 days in a row on similar length routes to your holiday, you will see how your body is after that time in the saddle. The fitter you are for your holiday, the more you will be able to enjoy the views rather than have to think about whether you will be able to get to the finish point each day. If you can’t cycle every day before your holiday, then try walking briskly for 30 minutes each day, this will help build up fitness and strength.
Once you finish a day in the saddle, a bit of stretching is great to relieve aching and tight muscles, there are many options you can find online to follow along.
A bit of time spent on preparation will give you more enjoyment on your bike tour. Plus, it means you can get into the holiday spirit before you depart.