We know it can be daunting,
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Cycling abroad can be a fantastic way to explore new places and experience the local culture. Whether you’re thinking of packing your bike or renting when you arrive, by following these tips and planning ahead, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable cycling trip that you'll remember for years to come!
“…you’ll usually get these for free and they may even throw in some left over padding and packaging!”
Packing the bike: First and foremost check over your bike before you travel and make any necessary repairs. If you are planning on packing your bike for air travel, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, make sure your bike is clean and dry before you pack it to avoid any damage or corrosion. Remove any pedals, racks, or other accessories that could get in the way, and secure the bike frame to prevent any movement or damage during transit. Consider investing in a sturdy bike box or bag to protect your bike during the journey; see Global Cycling Network video on packing a bike box and booking your bike for air travel. For a cheaper alternative you can ask your local bike shop for a cardboard box and you’ll usually get these for free and they may even throw in some left over padding and packaging! Another great video from GCN on how to pad and pack your bike into a cardboard box. Be sure to label it with your name and contact information in case it gets lost or delayed.
Transport to and from the airport: Getting your bike to and from the airport can be a challenge, but there are a few options available. Some airlines allow you to check your bike as part of your luggage allowance, while most will require you to pay an additional fee and book as ‘Sports Equipment’ onto your ticket. Friend with a van? OR a car with a roof rack. Alternatively, you can hire a bike transport service or use a local courier to transport your bike to your destination. Whichever option you choose, be sure to book in advance and confirm all the details with the transport provider to avoid any last-minute surprises.
“…plan your routes in advance to make the most of your time and stay safe.”
Finding routes in a new area: When cycling in a new area, it's important to research your destination and plan your routes in advance to make the most of your time and stay safe. You can use online resources such as Strava, Komoot, Link My Ride, Route You or local bike maps to find the best routes for your ability and interests. Consider looking for bike-friendly routes that avoid busy roads and intersections, or scenic routes that showcase the local countryside or landmarks.
Cleaning your bike: After a long day of cycling, it's important to clean and maintain your bike to keep it in good condition for your next ride. Either you are bringing some of your own cleaning equipment and products or due to weight allowances you might want to get this when you arrive at your destination. Before you go, locate some local bike shops that will sell all the bits you need, soapy water in a shower can do the trick! If you're staying in a hotel or Airbnb, ask if they have a secure location where you can store and clean your bike.
Knowing the rules and staying safe: Different countries have different rules when it comes to cycling, so it's important to familiarise yourself with them before you start riding. Be sure to wear a helmet and high-visibility clothing, and follow all local traffic laws and signals. Look out for other road users, especially in busy or unfamiliar areas, and use hand signals and eye contact to communicate with drivers and pedestrians. If you're not confident about cycling in a new area, consider joining a guided tour or group ride to get a local's perspective and meet other cyclists. Take note of these legal requirements on cycling in some European countries from Cycling Weekly.
“…consider exploring the culture and gaining locals' perspective by booking on to a tour…”
Consider joining a guided tour: If you’re really unsure and nervous to venture out for the first time in an unfamiliar country, consider exploring the culture and gaining locals' perspective by booking on to a tour or finding a group ride. Check out Cycling Tours in Spain at LoveVelo or TREK Travel for some inspiration on European and American bike tours.
Stay flexible and open to unexpected adventures and detours, as long as you keep your devices fully charged, stay hydrated, fuel up with nutritious snacks, pack appropriate clothing for changing weather conditions and bring spare parts and tools in case of mechanical issues you’ll be well under way to enjoying the scenery and culture of your destination to the fullest.
By being prepared, flexible, and mindful of safety, you can make the most out of your cycling holiday and REMEMBER to capture those memories (safely) and share your experiences with us in the comments below!