To travel by bicycle. The definitive guide
Go around the world by bicycle, travel the best routes or simply enjoy a well-deserved vacation accompanied by your inseparable two-wheeled friend. These are some of the most recurring options when it comes to to travel by bicycle.
More and more cyclists are daring with the cycling and adventure format. A tremendously eye-catching cocktail that seduces most athletes who dare to try it.
To travel by bicycle it is fashionable. Not only is it a 100% sustainable transport system, but it also allows you to play sports and enjoy the surroundings at the right speed. Given the evident rise of this practice and at the gates of an atypical summer, it is time to present the Ultimate guide to cycling. Tips, warnings and a host of observations that will certainly be useful for you when planning your trip.
Road and blanket!
The guide to cycling
The advantages of traveling by bicycle
The art of cycling. Thus we could define the profile of the cyclist who dares with an adventure of these characteristics.
Traveling by bicycle is magnificent and without a doubt one of the best options in terms of peace and tranquility it means. Few means of transportation are as grateful as the bicycle.
Zero emissions and the calm of knowing that you can travel as you like and stop as long as you like without having to give explanations. Adventure cycling is precisely this. Improvisation ability, enjoy the small pleasures of life and enjoy dream landscapes at the rhythm of the pedal. What more could you want?
Well, surely little else. If you have a bike, energy, the desire to start a real adventure and some free time (essential), this may be the right time to start building the foundations for your next bike trip. A personal journey that transcends sports activities to reach the most intense emotion and self-satisfaction.
The feeling of being free is tremendously rewarding and in these times a unique privilege of incalculable value.
This freedom and dynamism is what leads many people to repeat. The infinity of corners that our planet has is more than enough for some to dare even to go around the world by bicycle.
"The feeling of being free is tremendously rewarding and in these times a unique privilege of incalculable value"
If you want to know a little more about everything that surrounds a bicycle trip, I recommend Juanjo Alonso's book. “Around the world by bicycle. A leisurely journey around oneself ”. In this work you will learn from the author's own hand the feelings and emotions that appear in a trip of these characteristics. A unique and insurmountable adventure.
What do I need to travel by bicycle? The essential luggage
Nothing has to do a trip of 1 week or 15 days with a route of several months. For this reason if you are wondering that of "What do I need to travel by bicycle? ” The first thing you should know is that there is no single, unquestionable answer.
The luggage necessary to travel by bicycle is very relative. A physical issue but also a very personal one. I have seen people cope with the bare minimum, while others will not enjoy the trip but carry some belongings that they consider to be basic.
In a previous publication I told you about the necessary luggage for a bikepacking route. Well, all this must also be indispensable on a longer route.
However, to the list of the previous publication we should add more things.
If you are going to face a long-distance route, of several months or that passes through countries with less resources, the mechanical part will surely be the one that will be most affected.
To the basic tool kit for cycling more material will have to be added. At a minimum I recommend that you take with you cable and covers for the change. It would also be interesting to carry brake pads, all the possible keys you need to disassemble any component of the bicycle and some radio for the wheel. From here you always have the option of bringing more material. However, I don't recommend overcharging. You will never carry enough and something unforeseen will always appear that you did not have calculated. In case of serious breakdown it will be a matter of improvising on the go.
Another important issue is saddlebags. If you plan to ride for a long period of time, a few bags of bikepacking will not be enough. Most cycle travelers choose saddlebags. A kind of much more reinforced suitcases that are attached to different parts of the bicycle. It is important that you distribute the weight well and that you do not exceed the maximum weight recommended by the bicycle manufacturer.
Saddlebags and bikepacking bags
As I mentioned, the accessories of your bicycle will depend largely on the duration of the trip and the political and social situation of the country in which you are. If you are going to travel in Europe, the material considered essential will be less and therefore the bags or backpacks of your bicycle will also be less.
If, on the other hand, you travel to another continent or to countries in conflict, you should be more cautious. In this case, it is better if you are missing a certain material that may be indispensable. This also includes a medicine cabinet and some basic medication for certain emergencies.
It will be a matter of deciding between bikepacking bags and more reinforced saddlebags. If you are not in a hurry, your course is uncertain and you have no other objective than to enjoy the trip at your own pace, without a doubt saddlebags are the best purchase.
In them you can load more material and the amount of alternatives that you will find in the market is immense. From handlebar saddlebags to rear or frame saddlebags.
At Amazon you can find an interesting variety of cycling saddlebags at a discount.
How to prepare for a bicycle trip?
Preparing for a bike trip is not the same as preparing for an Ironman. The preparation is more logistical than physical and it is that a decent physical condition was enough for you to enjoy.
It is evident that the more prepared you are physically, the more kilometers you will be able to advance in each day. A prepared body will also better resist the passage of days and the fatigue that you may accumulate.
In any case, don't forget that the most important thing is to enjoy and that your real objective is to get to know a certain area of the planet as well as possible. If you want to crush yourself to exhaustion, consider taking part in an ultra resistance competition.
What can benefit you if you have been cycling for years is pain tolerance. I refer to it especially in reference to the possible pain in the ass and the boils that can appear after so many hours on the saddle. A good chamois cream will save you a lot of trouble.
What type of bicycle is the most suitable for traveling?
Road bike or MTB ?. Gravel or highway? . If these doubts appear in the choice of purchase of any bicycle, they also do so when deciding on a type or other of bike to travel.
Choosing a unique bicycle format is impossible. The route you can find can be very varied and when in doubt I always recommend that you opt for a MTB. They are more reinforced bikes, more comfortable and that always offer a plus of versatility.
With a road bike you will not be able to go through the mountains, while with a MTB you always have the option of riding on the road. In the middle we find gravel bikes.
The most important thing is that it is a rigid bicycle and that you feel comfortable with its geometry. Forget about weird designs and overly aggressive positions. In an adventure of these characteristics you should always prioritize comfort.
How much money do I need?
Many people suffer from the lack of money the impossibility of traveling by bicycle. The truth is that to undertake a trip of these characteristics you need a minimal economic mattress. However, the money needed to travel will largely depend on the countries through which your adventure takes place.
In Europe, daily expenses are much higher than in Africa or Asia. In these last two continents it is relatively easy to survive on 8-10 euros a day. With about 2000 euros you can easily manage to spend half a year away from home.
In Europe, Australia or North America you can hardly get to travel for less than 15 or 20 euros a day. The necessary money will also be conditioned to the format of the trip. If you go from hotels and go to restaurants to eat, the budget will increase, while if you decide to camp and cook your own food, the financial needs will be much lower.
I recommend that before undertaking your adventure you make a calculation based on the duration of the trip, the country and the basic daily needs. To this you must add a relevant percentage of possible unforeseen events and the possible issuance of certain visas.
What insurance do I need?
If you want to launch yourself in search of an adventure of this type you must cover your backs as far as medical insurance is concerned. In this case, there are countless companies where you can hire a travel insurance abroad.
It is important that you pay attention to the current policies and coverages. You will most likely go home without using it, but in this case, prevention is better than cure.
Find an insurance that is affordable but that adapts to the conditions of your trip. You can take advantage to expand the medical insurance with some material coverage in case of damage to the bicycle. If you want more information you can consult the publication "Insurance for cyclists and bicycles"
Where to sleep?
The theme of the overnight stay is also very personal. Some cycle travelers opt for hotels, hostels and pensions while the most daring people practice bivouac.
If you go on a trip for several months, it is impossible to do a structured planning every night. Over the days unforeseen events will appear and inclement weather is likely to slow down your progress on occasion.
The best thing is that you act on the go and that if you reserve a room you do so during the same day.
If you are one of those who will sleep in the open, the minimum essential material is a sleeping bag, pillow, mat and tent that protects you minimally from the rain.
Traveling alone or accompanied?
Traveling alone or accompanied is a decision that you must make the sooner the better. Obviously, to travel by bicycle accompanied you must find someone willing to get involved in such an adventure. It is important that if you travel accompanied you do it with someone you trust. Someone related to your tastes, thoughts and that it does not put obstacles constantly. You are going to spend many hours together so it is best that you get along well even before the trip.
The option of travel alone it is always bolder but more emotional. A personal journey into oneself. Interesting option for those who want to live the adventure more intensely possible.
Beyond travel insurance and money you must carry with you personal documentation. A valid passport with a high validity margin, a driving license and the corresponding visa, if necessary, will be the minimum that you must carry with you.
I also recommend that you bring your health card. In some countries they may require certain vaccines. On a personal advice level, I would also tell you to carry an invoice for the most valuable material.
The most common mistakes
-Excessive planning: In this type of travel, one of the most important mistakes lies in planning. We often plan too much and although having a defined structure is interesting you must assume that you will not be able to control the whole trip. Planning 6 months or a year in advance is impossible. So if you want to reduce stress and possible anxiety, the first thing you should do is assume that there will be factors that will not depend on you. Enjoy improvisation and adventure as such. To keep schedules you already have the daily routine.
-Bring too little / too much material: Spending time choosing luggage is very important. You must bring what is necessary. No more no less. Forget about carrying the house on your back or leaving with what is just and essential. Finding the sweet spot is more complicated than it may seem.
-Do not check the bicycle: Do not even think about starting a trip of this type without previously checking the bicycle. At the beginning of the adventure the bike must be in perfect condition. Check the gear, cables, brakes, covers and wheels.
-To demand too much: Even if it is a bicycle trip, it is important that you enjoy every moment to the fullest. Let go of the big beatings and decide on routes that are affordable for you. The fatigue is accumulating and the important thing about this is not how it starts, but how it ends.
-Obsessing about moving forward: Enjoy the environment, the landscape and the culture that surrounds you. Take the opportunity to learn about the life of the region and take your time to continue advancing. You are traveling and on vacation. Let time and emotions flow.