What to carry with you for a stress-free cycling trip

Posted 28 Jul 2017

Whether it's your first cycling tour, or you’re a seasoned Softie, packing the essentials can make a huge difference to how much you get out of your trip. Here are are our top four tips to keep you organised this summer.

Food and water

If you're booked onto one of our Provence cycling holidays, it may be tempting to think you can rely on rosé wine and fluffy croissants for sustenance as you cruise through lavender fields towards the Luberon. However, you don't want to run out of steam en route. Cycling can take up a lot of energy – even steady, casual riding can burn up to 500 calories per hour. It's always a good idea to carry some high-energy snacks to keep you going between café and restaurant stops.

Water is a must too. It's important to stay hydrated, especially in hotter climates like France and Italy. Be sure to carry a bottle, and always refill it during stops.

Sun protection

It's all too easy to forget about the power of the sun when your skin is being cooled by that lovely soft breeze that glides past while you're cycling. The sun is much stronger in France, Italy and Spain than in the UK – especially in the summer – so make sure you have full sunscreen, and plenty of it. Ideally, you should apply this to exposed areas of skin 30 minutes before you go out, then again just before you leave.

You may consider investing in some special cycling clothing with a rated sun protection factor (SPF) – especially for children, whose skin is much more susceptible to sun damage. Don't forget a good pair of sunglasses too.

Safety

While it's unlikely you'll be tearing through tricky mountain bike trails, there are standard cycling safety practices that should still be observed. These apply even if you're rolling through the peaceful serenity of the Apennine foothills on our Treasures of Tuscany and Umbria tour. Firstly, make sure you've got a high-visibility jacket. Even on bright days, motorists may not see you as you pass through shadier parts of the countryside. If you're cycling mainly during the day, which you will be on our trips, then fluorescent colours make you stand out the most.

A helmet is another essential bit of safety gear. It may feel tempting not to wear one while you're riding slowly along a quiet road, but the protection value helmets offer are undisputed – some sources say they can reduce the chances of a serious head injury by up to 85%.

Clothing

You'll be in the saddle for long periods of time, and feeling comfortable can make or break your trip. You don't want to miss the sweeping coastal views as you wind along the coastal paths of the Costa Brava because you're overheating under your favourite long-sleeved top. As well as packing cool, breathable T-shirts, consider kitting yourself out with some bib shorts – these are perhaps the most important item in your cycling wardrobe. It's worth spending some time before your holiday to purchase some that fit you well.

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