Certain holiday-makers decide to leave their car in the garage and set off on their adventure by bicycle along the roads of France. Five times quicker than on foot, three times slower than a car, it offers the ideal pace for discovering the country’s heritage. What’s more, it’s a pleasant, quiet and ecological mode of transport. However, you need time and energy to embark on such a trip. Here are some tips to make travelling by bike a success.
You must choose your bike with care. The most appropriate equipment depends on many factors, such as the duration of the journey, the route you plan to take, and of course the budget.
- A road bike will be more comfortable if you always ride on tarmac, while a mountain bike will be more versatile, allowing you to take smaller roads and go off the beaten track.
- Saddles come in varying degrees of slenderness and must be as comfortable as possible. It’s best to try the various materials available: foam, synthetic gel, small silicone cushions and leather.
- The tyre width must be appropriate for the total load the bike will have to carry, namely the cyclist’s weight plus luggage.
- A powerful light must be installed at the front so you can drive at nightfall because sometimes you’ll be late finishing a stage of your journey. A back light and reflectors are also compulsory. You can also attach small battery-run lights.
- There are several options for transporting luggage: a standard bike rack, panniers on the front and back wheels, and a small trailer if there’s a heavy load to carry. You can also combine these options according to your specific needs. In every case, always make sure bags are waterproof to keep your belongings dry.
- Bring a good repair kit with you so you can fix technical problems. Wrenches, a pump and a puncture repair kit are minimum requirements.
- So you can leave your bike during outings, a good anti-theft device using a key or code is essential.
- Choose your helmet in the same way as your saddle: it has to be comfortable. Again, several shapes and materials exist: polystyrene, hard plastic, and leather.
- Cycling glasses protect your eyes against insects and dust, which can sometimes be dangerous on the downhill.
You’ve got the right equipment, now make sure you’re up to the job physically. Here are some essential pre-trip activities:
- A good training programme starting several weeks before departure will enable you to endure the effort better and avoid cramps, aches and tendonitis. You should work on your endurance and strengthen your muscles.
- Do not plan too ambitious a circuit, and do not overestimate your abilities. Allow for a few days’ rest here and there.
- Plan the route you want to take well. Sufficiently detailed maps of every region you plan to visit are essential if you don’t want to get lost.
- If the bike is worth a significant amount, it’s wise to have it insured. Check your personal and public liability insurance too.
You’ve finally set off on the start of your adventure! Some last advice to make sure you have a good time:
- Some pain in your thighs, ankles and buttocks on the first days are normal and will disappear in under a week.
- If you are cycling in full sun, don’t forget to protect your face, hands and all the exposed parts of your body.
- Keep clothes for the rain, wind and cold to hand. Don’t forget to cover up during breaks to avoid catching cold.
- Avoid greasing the bike near a beach because the sand could stick to it and damage the ball bearings and the derailleur.