Tempted to tour - Planning


Ex-pro cyclist, Emma Silversides has written a wonderful three part series for us that we hope might tempt you to try a cycle tour in 2016.  Her blogs took us from Marrakesh to the Mendips and across Europe  too but if you missed any of those you can just click on the links.


cycle touring France


Now that she is back at work – yes we all have to support our cycling habit somehow! – she has put together some handy hints that will help to make it all go smoothly.  There are no surprises, preparation is the key and so here are Emma’s top tips to get you touring:


I really hope my three blogs will have convinced you that touring is more rewarding and easier than you might think but like trying anything new, it’s all about having a go and gaining some experience.  


Planning is the key to a trouble free tour.  That includes more than just the route; it is also about the organisation of provisions and kit.  Making sure that the bike is mechanically sound, ready to roll and that you have basic tools stored in your panniers (spare inner tubes, tyre levers, a multi-tool, and a chain-tool are the minimum, as well as a pump) is naturally an obvious starting point.  Carrying things such as bungees, cable ties, insulation tape and a puncture repair kit is also advisable.  And regardless of whether you are planning a long day or not, it is vital that you get some quality lights on board too – just in case!


cycle touring at its best


I tend to split the kit in my panniers so that cycle kit is in the right pannier, and then I put normal clothing and essential toiletries in the left one.  This is all assuming that you are “credit card touring” and therefore buying your food and lodging as you go, rather than camping.  Oh and don’t forget a lock but nothing too heavy, as the weight all adds up.


The second element of the planning is the routing and accommodation.  For the last twelve months I have had the luxury of a Garmin 800 and I make use of the ridewithgps.com website to pre-plan my routes.  For basic routing you do not need to pay so this is a great option.  Prior to this I always used a good old paper map in a plastic cover and a highlighter pen.  Even with the Garmin, I would never leave without a map as back up and it also provides an overall view of where you are going, which is great to see, even when using the internet to plan.


Cycle touring in Marrakesh


Be realistic with the distances you want to cover and keep an eye on the altitude gain too; there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve planned a lovely lazy 60 mile day, only to discover that it includes 2,000m plus of climbing (though if you are anything like me you’ll soon relish this!).  And don’t underestimate how much loaded panniers will slow you down, especially if you are used to a lightweight road bike.  In my opinion it’s always better to plan for a shorter day; if you reach your destination earlier than expected, dump your panniers and explore pannier free, or just relax, put your feet up and soak up the atmosphere.


How you arrange accommodation is personal preference.  Booking in advance gives you security and peace of mind but naturally it can be restrictive unless, that is, you are willing to lose money on pre-booked places.  Using sites or apps such as booking.com, trivago, hotel.com is easy and many of these ensure that you are selecting exactly what you want; selecting the ‘single’ often opens up a whole new world of options.  And it is worth thinking carefully about the location; how far will you have to travel (if at all) to get an evening meal or provisions for the next day’s riding?


For now, wishing you a happy New Year and happy touring!



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