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Getaways with your bike

Make your summer vacation a cycling vacation.

Heading away for the summer holidays? Wouldn’t it be good to spend an hour or two riding in the mornings while your family or friends are still getting up? Better still, bring them along for longer jaunts. There’s no better way to explore than by bicycle. You can go where you want at your own pace, and ice-creams and coffees on patios taste so much better. You end up seeing places you’d never otherwise see and meeting people you’d never otherwise meet. And when you’re lying on the beach later in the afternoon, it feels so much more deserved, as does that extra bottle of wine at night. Whether you’re off for daily morning adventures or a full-on expedition, you’ll be glad you made cycling a part of your vacation. It’s not hard to arrange. Here are a few tips to help you make sure everything’s in place.

Equipment

First, make sure your machine is in good working order. You’ll want to spend your time riding, not fiddling around with your bike. Bring it by your local mechanic for a tune-up before you leave. If there are cuts in your tyres or the treads are worn, you’ll want them replaced. A new chain and cassette will make your bike feel like new. Since it’s summer, treat yourself to fresh, white bar tape. Replace the cleats on your shoes if they look the worse for wear. The last thing you want is a niggle in your knee halfway through your trip.

You’ll want to have plenty of spares with you as well. Tubes and other miscellaneous parts are not always so easy to find when you’re away from home, and you don’t want to have to drive around looking for them if you run into a streak of flats or something breaks.

Clothing

The clothes you’ll need will depend on the type of riding you are doing and where you are going, but you’ll want a good rain jacket, a vest, and arm and leg warmers, as well as your shoes, socks, shorts, jerseys, and helmet, in any case.

If you’re going to be pottering around, there’s no need to wear racing kit, but clothes designed for cycling will keep you much more comfortable. Shimano’s Explorer Collection is great for wandering about towns and lounging at cafés, but it’s also designed so you can pedal with ease, even when the going gets tough. The CT5 sneakers, which hide the features of cycling-specific shoes inside a design that’s at home in the city, are especially nice.

Transportation

If you are flying, you’ll want a sturdy, lightweight bike bag that will keep your machine protected. Compare various airlines’ baggage policies before you buy your flights.

If you are driving, you’ll want to make sure that your bikes fit in your vehicle with the rest of your luggage. A solid bike rack will give you plenty of extra space.

Or just ride straight out your driveway. With a good set of bags, you can carry everything you need for a weeks-long trip on your bike.

Miscellaneous

Pack your cycling stuff in a separate bag with plenty of compartments to keep things organised, and to isolate your laundry if you don’t have the chance to clean your clothes for a couple of days. On the road, you don’t always have access to a washer and drier. If you don’t, it’s best to clean your kit in the shower as soon as you finish riding. Hang it up to dry right away. If you wring your wet clothes out inside a dry towel, most of the moisture will be removed immediately.

You won’t necessarily want to follow a set route every day, but a good GPS that you can mount on your handlebars will prove invaluable if you ever need help finding your way. For longer excursions, it’s good to have a battery pack or two to charge your electronics. And don’t forget your camera! Or sunscreen or chamois cream, of course.

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