Rid kit to get you prepared for all that mother nature may throw at you
This is a guide to what you will need out on the road. Destination climate effects choices here but you can normally forecast pretty well on this. Adjust the amount you take for the length of your tour, minimum of two for multi day tours providing you can launder overnight. Any tech options are suggested.
- Take your own, you are guaranteed it will fit and you will know its history.
- Cycling shoes. Including overshoes if you get cold feet easily.
- Bib shorts. Take ones that you have worn and are comfortable with to help avoid saddle sores.
- Wind proof gilet.
- Arm warmers.
- Packable lightweight waterproof jacket.
- Personal preference on this one (I ride without) but, in the event of a crash on unfamiliar roads they can help avoid road rash. Meaning you could be back on the bike straight away.
- Interchangeable lenses to match the light conditions would be beneficial.
- Mobile phone.
- GPS device. Garmin or wahoo or similar.
- Camera equipment. Either gopro or SLR, with mounts, lenses, and chargers. These can be carried by your support vehicle.
- If you are riding for long distances and over multiple days a good chamois creme is something you shouldn’t be without. Best to find one you are happy with before you go. There are also warm up creams available to help your legs get ready for the day, but these are not essential.
- Mid ride fuel. Find an energy gel and hydration drink that you like and get on with, there is nothing worse than being stuck out all day with something you can’t stomach.
- (all these could have linked articles with product tests, or sponsored products)
Bike kit and preparation
Depending on your choice to either rent a bike or take your own makes a difference on how you prep. Here are a few things to think about.
- Bicycle measurements. If renting these will be needed to ensure your hire bike is fitted to match your bike back home. Tour operators and the rental shops will adjust saddle height/setback and stem length/height on your chosen frame size to ensure you have as little change to your riding position as possible. (article on how to measure your bike)
- If renting a bike be sure to take pedals to match your shoes. Most shops will have loan sets but it’s not guaranteed. Taking your own is advised this way you will be familiar with the pedal release, meaning no embarrassing falls. (GUY!)
- Preparing your bike for travel. If you want to take your own bike it’s advisable to have it serviced and checked before you go, ask your local bike shop if you need help. This will mean a reliable bike out of the box. (how to service your bike article)
- Packing your bike. A bespoke bike box is the best way to protect your bike during air travel. We have all sat there in departures watching those suitcases being loaded and winced, a decent box will help protect that fragile carbon frame. There are many bike boxes on the market and, if you plan to travel with your bike regularly, buying one is a good investment. Packing your bike definitely needs a run through before you go, and I advise that you learn this yourself rather than getting your bikeshop to do it without you. You could soon get to the end of your tour and be stuck with a bike you can get home! Likewise with assembly, I advise that you practice reassembling before you go. I’ve had to build a couple of friends bikes for them on arrival, I don’t know if that’s just them being lazy or unprepared! (articles on bike boxes on the market, how to pack a bike box, how to assemble a bike from a box)
- Cycle insurance. You will need to check your travel insurance covers you for cycling and the transportation of your bike. If not then cycle specific insurance can cover both. (article on insurance providers)
Brace yourselves, there is going to be some time off the bike. I know, how are you going to manage switching off from cycling? Well the locations are beautiful by bike but also by foot. Most tours I’ve been on have been based in locations rich with culture and atmosphere (read great food and nightlife!). But seriously being able to get out and visit the locale really adds depth to your visit. Also most stays have access to spa, gym, and or pool facilities.
- Recovery wear. Off the bike you probably aren’t going to want to get straight into your evening garms. You will probably find yourself heading to the pool or spa, so pack some swim shorts and some comfortable clothing. It’s time to break out those Rapha sliders you were bought for xmas, pure cyclist downtime!
- Evening wear. Pack enough for a few nights out, look into local climate at the time of year. If you wanted to visit any specific cultural locations i.e. religious sites, then check any dress codes before you pack.
- Additional sports gear. Quite a few locations have gyms or amazing places to run, so maybe look into packing suitable sports wear and some trainers.
Like any trip there are some basics that need to be covered, tick these off early.
- Passport, in date.
- Visas if needed
- Travel insurance
- Foreign currency and credit card
- Check your mobile network coverage abroad and download any apps you may need
- Inform your bank if you are travelling if needed
- Travel adapters for power
- Medications if needed
- Sleeping mask and ear plugs
- Sun tan lotion and aftersun
- Book, that cyclists biography you have been meaning to read!
Fitness, Nutrition, and Ride Conduct
The final things to think about when heading out for a tour are linked to keeping yourself riding all day long. These revolve around your fitness and how you treat your body and others when cycling.
Whilst most tour operators and guides will be flexible in approach to the days on the road, adjusting average speeds and distances matching the groups ability, to really maximise your time on the bike it may be worth looking into a training plan before you leave. This will help the days be longer and distances be further. Take heed of this saying though “it’s better to arrive under trained than over injured” so don’t overdo it and risk your trip. (article on training plans)
If there’s one point I can’t emphasise enough, it is to make sure you fuel properly on the day. Keep drinking fluids, find an energy drink that you like and has electrolytes in it. Make sure you find gels or bars that you can continue to eat without ending up with stomach issues. The last thing you want is to bonk or to cramp. Even though tours are fully supported, sometimes the enjoyment will get the better of you and you can forget to eat and drink. If you do, you’ll be in the broom wagon, and no self respecting cyclist wants that! Eat well in the evenings to recover, and don’t overdo those recovery beers! (link to nutrition article)
Without this sounding like a lecture, as cyclists we have a responsibility to represent our community and respect the ones we visit. We also have to respect our fellow cyclists. The whole point of riding a tour is to experience the climbs and descents in as close a way to the pros as possible, but without the benefit of closed roads. Remember to familiarise yourself with any local road laws, your tour guide should help with this, and keep to the correct side of the white lines. Stay safe and ride to your skillset. Before riding with other cyclists it’s a good idea to establish some common mid ride communication, ie to notify each other of approaching vehicles or if you are passing each other. This will help reduce confusion and add to that team feel. And finally, don’t be a litter bug. We want to continue to ride in these locations again and again without getting a bad rep, stuff those empty gels in your jersey pockets!
Ready to go?
Im ready, are you? The above is all checked and I’m counting down the time to my flights. Riding a tour is an amazing experience, and now all the guesswork is taken care of it’s all about the cycling. Get ready to earn those turns, to test those legs and lungs, and to ride in the playgrounds or the pros.
Enjoy your tour, this is epico.
By Graham Herbert
Made history in Greece