Cycling has soared in popularity this year, with sales of bikes up 75%. For many, this new hobby has inspired them to take longer road trips and tours. The key to a successful long cycling tour is preparation, you need to make sure that both you and your bike are in good condition.
If you are cycling in unfamiliar territory, plan your route carefully, making sure you take note of advice from other cyclists about the best routes to take, or where it is safe to stopover or camp. You should also look into the local traffic laws and make sure that you wear a helmet. A cycling tour is a great way to see the world at a pace that suits you, but safety is paramount when you are on the road.
Keeping fit and healthy
If you are on a tour, you may be tempted to cover long distances without a break but it is important that you stop regularly. Drinking plenty of water is essential, but if you are in another country, it is worth checking first that it is safe to drink the water, as not all countries have a clean water recycling system. Drinking contaminated water is the most common cause of diarrhea, and this is the last thing you need on a cycling tour. Eat regularly, making sure that you get a well-balanced diet.
High carbohydrate snacks may be convenient, but they will leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Cycling supplement drinks are a good idea on a long trip as they contain a burst of electrolytes to keep you alert when you’re on the road. Many also contain minerals to help support your muscles like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. If you are traveling in another country, make sure that you arrange sufficient insurance and get any vaccinations that are necessary. You should also make sure that your travel insurance covers any accidental damage to your bike.
General road safety
When you are out on the road, wear bright, reflective colors, especially if you are cycling at night. If you are riding through a town or city, beware of parked cars as drivers do not always check when they open doors. Good road positioning is essential in built-up areas, don’t ride too close to the curb, because if someone needs to overtake, you will have space to your left to move into. It will also make it easier to avoid gutters, drains, and potholes by the side of the road. Many cyclists recommend riding in the middle of a lane so that motorists aren’t tempted to squeeze past you when it is unsafe to do so. Always ride single-file if you are with a group and make sure that you use hand signals when you are turning. Don’t be tempted to wear headphones and never use your cell phone when you are riding.
Looking after your bike
Regular bike maintenance is essential if you are on a long tour. Every day check over your bike and make sure that your tires have enough pressure. The wheels should go round easily with no wobbles and the mudguards shouldn’t rub against anything. If you are fairly new to cycling, it would be a good idea to do a bike maintenance course before you go, learning to deal with basic issues, like repairing a puncture and oiling chains and cogs. You should also check that all the bolts on your bike are tight, in particular the rear rack bolts that can often work their way loose over time.
When you are going on a long road tour, staying safe on the road is imperative. Look after your body, your bike, bike parts, and your cycling accessories and you can enjoy seeing the world with confidence and ease.