In the previous two posts we considered your destination, the distance, accommodation and the proper bicycle for your cycle holiday. In this last post we are going to discuss how you are going to carry your gear on the bike.
You are all set with the bike, but what about gear? It was already mentioned that it is invaluable to have some basic replacement parts, tools and spare tires. Required clothing depends on the purpose of your cycle trip and also on the destination. Wearing a helmet is always a good idea and in some countries it is mandatory. Make sure that you are aware of the regulations.
First let’s talk about short day trips. Most regular ‘every-day’ bikes have a rack at the rear of the bike on which you can attach bags. This is ideal to carry food, extra or spare clothes and maybe some tools. Usually tools and spare tires are carried in a small purpose-built bag underneath the saddle though. If possible, it’s a good idea to have a “handlebar” bag. Ask about the options at your local bike shop. Handlebar bags are where you keep your valuables, such as wallets, keys, phones and cameras, and they are also a convenient place to keep maps. It’s easier to keep an eye on your handlebar bag because it’s in front of you and normally they come with a lock as well. If you don’t have a rear rack and/or handlebar bag, you can always just carry a small backpack.
If you are going on a long-distance bike trip, you will definitely need more equipment. It all starts with buying a proper touring bike, preferably custom-made. Let’s say that you are going to be traveling for a week. That means that you will need to carry clothes for a week, toiletries, food, water and possibly also a tent, sleeping bag, stove and cooking utensils. This all adds up so it is very likely that you will need at least four pannier bags – two front bags and two rear bags – plus a handlebar bag. Before setting off, try to figure out an easy way of storing all your stuff. Putting clothes in one bag, sleeping gear in another and food in yet another is a good option. The fourth bag can then be used to store all other random, but necessary things, such as books, a stove, tools… Make sure that the weight is balanced and that you know where everything goes. Everything having it’s place will save you a lot of time on the road.
It is also highly recommended to go for a few rides with a fully packed bicycle. A heavy bike moves differently than a light and empty bike.
Lastly, wherever you go and however long you plan to cycle, make sure to study your route beforehand. It is good to know where you can take a break, get a good night’s sleep, find shelter during bad weather and where the major sights are. If you happen to run into road works, an accident or the like, it is also good to know an alternative route. However, make sure not to plan too much. Cycling is all about freedom and if you leave some time for improvisation on the road, your cycle holiday will be a guaranteed success!