By Victoria Sharpe
Comfort will make your cycling holiday all the more enjoyable – and to maintain it you’ll need the right clothing and kit. Here are some tips to help you make sure you’ve got what you need.
Taking Your Own Bike
The question of whether to take your own bike is a balance of cost and comfort. It will cost more to transport the bike, especially if you’re travelling by plane, but knowing that your bike perfectly fits you offers great comfort if you’re going to be undertaking long rides, or even spending full days in the saddle. It’s also worth remembering that if you decide to hire a bike it’s not going to be cost free by any means. It will probably be cheaper than transporting your own bike, and almost certainly easier – but if you’re spending a week or more in the saddle is it really worth sacrificing comfort?
Taking the Right Kit
It goes without saying that padded shorts are an absolute necessity. If you can, pay more for good quality ones – your body (and backside!) will thank you by the end of your trip. It’s a good idea to either take a couple of pairs or, if space is at a premium, one pair and some travel wash to rinse them out each evening. If you’re going in winter though don’t do this, as they won’t be dry by the next morning. Still on leg wear, pack some tights to go over your shorts (or tights with padded shorts built in to save space). Perhaps a less obvious point, but certainly an important one, is that if you know it’s going to be a trip with, shall we say, ‘ad hoc’ toilet breaks don’t choose bibbed tights, as you’ll have to strip off completely each time!
For the top half, it really depends what time of year you’re travelling – either long or short sleeved tops depending on the weather in whichever style and fabric you normally wear. Comfort is what you’re looking for primarily, and choosing familiar kit that you know you like will be better than a load of new kit that needs wearing in. Your cycle top should have a back that is long enough to cover your lower back so as to avoid wind chill and/or sunburn while cycling. Many people choose cycling jerseys with useful pockets in the back to store water bottles, energy gels, keys and the like, so consider whether this is something you’re going to need.
If you do need to invest in a few key pieces, check out e-outdoor.co.uk They have a great range of outdoor wear for all climates.
Don’t Forget the Helmet!
If you’re going on a pre-organised cycling holiday, you’ll probably be provided with a helmet that will do the job if necessary – and will most likely be adjustable so there’s no issue with comfort. If you’re organising your own trip then make sure to take your own – it could save your life.
Taking a helmet is not necessarily a good idea. if you are cycling through Holland, Germany, Denmark or Switzerland then you will feel a bit of a stodge as grandmothers cycle past you bare-headed . If you are cycling in a Mediterranean country then wearing a good sunhat will offer far more protection from the real danger (the Sun) than a small piece of plastic foam.