by Robin Akers
If you're lucky to be off abroad for a cycling holiday in August here are 10 top tips to help you have a great time.
- Make sure your bike is packed properly, baggage handlers the world over are notorious. Have the bike checked over before you go and take some spares such, as brake pads for disc brakes (wear rates are three times that in England because of the higher temperatures and the longer downhills), gear cables, a spare tyre (they cut easily on rocks and small stones) and half a dozen inner tubes or a couple of repair kits.
- If you have a bike in this country but you are hiring one abroad take your saddle (and maybe pedals too) especially if it is comfortable. No two Saddles are the same and if you have one that suits you then why not use it.
- Have a rest day part way through the week. Not many of you will ride more than two consecutive days in Britain. Having a rest day on the third day will enable you to enjoy the last two days and give your body chance to recover from the excursion.
- Be able to carry at least two litres of water either in a camel back or in water bottles because you will need to keep drinking lots and lots of water/energy drink, much more than in this country. If you are on your own and not with a specialist company make sure you visit towns where you can get fresh water supplies so that you don't get stranded without water. In Spain there are lots of public drinking fountains but not all are a clean supply, so be careful where you take it from.
- If you are going to the French Alps or Spain then you will probably be doing a lot of climbing. Be mentally prepared for this. Climbing is as much about the head as it is the legs & lungs.
- Ride within your capabilities but don't be afraid to extend yourself a little bit further each time you go out riding. In the mountains some of the technical riding can be extreme so know your limits.
- Be prepared for accidents and take a small first aid kit. Menolin patches are ideal for grazes and you won't get them in some European countries. I always take Wasp-eze as well because there are lots more insects that bite or sting. But make sure you are not allergic to antihistamine and as they say - always read the label!
- Choose tyres that have good puncture resistance. Spain and Cyprus are notorious for punctures. Low profile but treaded tyres are best something like Hutchinson Pythons or Panaracer Fire XC Pro will be ideal in my experience.
- Take loads of sun tan lotion and apply it regularly. Use a very high factor 30+ because you will burn especially if you are high up in the mountains where the sun is stronger.
- Don't get involved with the opposite sex, take drugs or drink alcohol. This affects your cycling!!! Seriously enjoy your visit. Respect the local ways of life and traditions. And if it's your first time I'm certain you will not regret it. Britain is pretty tame when you get home believe me. Oh and finally check well before you are due to go that your Passport is going to be up to date for the whole holiday and its not going to run out half way through - oh yes it has been known!