It’s become increasingly popular in recent years for cyclists to travel oversees to cycle. Some cyclists are seeking out better weather for performance training or are taking part in a structured cycle training camps particularly in the lead up to the new cycling season. Other cyclists go abroad as part of a cycle club trip, to take part in an oversees cycle sportives such as L’etape de Tour, to take part in cycle racing or to participate in a charity cycle rides. Triathletes regularly travel abroad to take part in triathlons or again for performance training in better climes. One thing is certain, more and more cyclists/triathletes find themselves travelling overseas in pursuit of their favourite sport.
Generally speaking, travelling oversees to cycle is straight forward and is a very enjoyable experience if you’ve planned in advance and prepared well. My experience of riding abroad which I’ve done for many years now is that preparation is the key to a successful trip. If you haven’t yet experienced the joys of riding oversees and are thinking about it, I’ve included below a short list of the main things which you will have to plan in advance.
Where to go ? If you’re not on an organised club or charity type cycle trip, then where do you go ? That’s entirely up to you but bear in mind the prevailing weather conditions at the time of the year at which you travel. Too hot during the summer ? Not enough heat or too damp during the winter ? Popular cycling destinations continue to be mainland Spain, Mallorca, the Canary Islands, Italy and France.
What cycling gear and kit to bring ? My advice is to dress appropriately for the conditions so make sure you’re aware of prevailing weather conditions when you travel. As regards kit, I always bring my own helmet and shoes. If you’re hiring a bike, consider bringing your own pedals and saddle as these are 2 of your 3 key contact points when riding a bike.
What about a bicycle ? In the main cycling destinatiomns it’s relatively straight forward to rent a good quality bicycle abroad so if you don’t fancy the additional effort / cost of bringing a bicycle box, then hire locally. On a hire bicycle you’ll probably spend the first spin or two dialling in your ride position which particularly on a short trip can impact your enjoyment. This compares with being straight up and running if you bring your own bicycle. Also, you need to factor in the cost of hiring a bicycle v’s bringing a bicycle. Always bring spare inner tubes, a spare tyre, power links and a good multi-tool for running repairs.
Diet. Will everything you normally eat be available where you are going ? My advice is to bring anything specific that you eat with you and not take chances. If you are riding your bike daily for a number of days, the last thing you need is to upset your digestive system or fail to consume sufficient good quality calories, both of which will impact your cycling performance.
General health. Make sure you attend to any minor ‘general health’ issue that you have prior to travelling. For example, don’t let an untreated minor toothache develop into something more serious when you travel, which could result in medical expenses and abandoning your cycling plans. If you take regular medication, make sure that you bring it with you. As a precaution bring a supply of appropriate good quality dressings which can be used if you’re unlucky to crash and end up with the dreaded cycle road rash. This will save you a lot of time and hassle on having to source these locally.
Insurance. Cycling can be a dangerous activity and crashes happen no matter how good a bicycle handler you are. You really need to ensure that you have some form of medical cover when travelling abroad just in case you have an accident. Ideally this will be a combination of the public services card entitling you to medical treatment in public hospitals across the EEA and private medical insurance if you are lucky enough to have this. You’ll also want travel insurance to cover all the usual stuff such as delays, lost baggage, etc. particularly if you are bringing your own bicycle.
Once you get all this sorted, it should be straight forward . Nothing beats blue skys and cycling in nice weather in just a pair of shorts and a short sleeve jersey particularly when you know how bad the weather can be at home.