Go on holiday with a bike
Going on holiday with a bike - cheap and eco-friendly
Cycling is an ecological and economical means of transport. Riding a bike is a quick means of getting around in urban areas, and is also pleasurable at all times, whether on vacation or not. But a new phenomenon is emerging: the bike holiday. Whether you wish to go on a tour or just get to a specific destination, feel free to browse the following article that explains the advantages of traveling by bike and describes the preparations and equipment that are necessary.
Arguments for and against the bicycle
Cons: it's hard to transport a large amount of baggage on a bicycle, and getting a flat tire is always possible. If it rains, you need to find shelter to avoid getting soaked. Besides, it's tiring... While some of the above arguments are founded (problem with rain and the cold), we could in fact place our bags into saddlebags that are made for this purpose; and it is also possible to get a flat tire while driving. All you need is to learn how to change a tire.
The bicycle is one of the rare means of locomotion that allows you to travel at your own pace, without any stress, while discovering places along little roads that you would not otherwise have known of. The bicycle also allows you to make stops more easily than if you were in a car.
In addition, cycling offers many unforgettable experiences. What could be more satisfying than being able to say that you have been to someplace really far off by bike? Cycling long distances is much easier than most people think. For example, I cycled (50 miles) 80 km on a round trip along the wine circuit between Dijon and Beaune in 4 hours, during which I got to see beautiful scenery and picturesque villages (I biked in the famous Burgundy Wines Road). Starting off with short cycling trips on Sundays through the forest, some people gradually end up doing long distance bike trips. Some enthusiasts of "the little Queen" (a nickname for the bicycle in French) have even cycled from Paris to Beijing and back in 3 months... yet these people aren't even professionals...
The advantages of traveling by bike
The bicycle gathers a lot of respect and is a wonderful source of shared interest and feelings. Long-distance cycling is always intriguing and impressive. You will always receive a warmer welcome when you arrive on a bicycle rather than in a car. It also facilitates cultural exchanges and the obtaining of bits of information about things and places that cannot be found in travel guides. The bicycle really is an alternative transportation mode that allows one to discover other peoples, cultures and to take one's time in a world where everything is going faster and faster.
When you cycle, you burn between 400 and 600 calories per hour, depending on your pace. Thus, during my 80 km trip, I burned about 1500 to 2000 calories; cyclists in the Tour de France can consume 8000 calories a day since it is necessary to eat well in order to cycle well. So enjoy the local cuisine - you'll burn off all the calories when you get back on your bike. Even if you don't lose weight in the process, you won't be gaining a single gram either ...
Cycling is economical: YOU are the fuel! Therefore, there is no risk of running out. The cost of using a bike is really low since the main cost is that of maintenance: replacing the tires, chain and brakes! Everything on a bike can be repaired and you will always find a handyman willing to help you.
What's more, cycling is good for health and keeps stress at bay. And there is no need to travel many kilometers to be able to spend a nice holiday. We usually tend to travel to the other side of the world without even knowing the places just round the corner. But even if you visit just a small part of a region, you would still have many fond memories of it. And even if you stay really close to home, it could still be an adventure.
You never get bored when cycling, even if you are alone: you get to enjoy the sun, take in the smells of colza fields and the underbrush, look at the birds and the passing villages... in other words, relax and unwind. When you are on a bike tour, your main concern is knowing where you are going to eat and sleep come nightfall. A bit of preparation beforehand is all you need to avoid finding yourself in a fix come evening time.
Preparing for a bike trip
Start off with an area that is not too hilly and where there are many cycling tracks that are well connected. If you like to travel, the Netherlands is the country where the bicycle is king.
Once you have decided on your destination, buy a detailed map (you can find maps that are specially drawn up for cyclists) in order to calculate the distances and changes in altitude involved (the higher it gets, the more slowly you should cycle). Based on this, you should never aim for a daily average that is too high. Thus, while I can do an average of 19 mph (30 km/h) on flat ground, I estimate an average of about 11-13 mph (18-20km/h) over long distances to factor in higher ground, stops, accumulated fatigue, etc.
If it's possible, try to plan an intermediate stage in order to be prepared for any surprises, such as a visit to a nice spot, or a stop for a drink or a quick bite outside a cafe. After all, the bicycle is first and foremost synonymous with freedom and flexibility. Which is more interesting than wanting to go from point A to B as quickly as possible.
When you train before you leave, cycle at your own pace and by spinning so as not to tire yourself out. If you pedal too fast, you will spoil the fun and get cramps, and end up having to stop... remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare? Take care to eat and drink regularly; buy two large canteens that you can fill up with slightly sweetened water and carry with you on your bike.
What sort of equipment do you need?
First of all, the bicycle itself: choose a mountain bike or a trekking bike if you can afford one. If you're traveling far, consider investing in a bicycle that is more solidly built (since there will be more weight applied on it), one that is practical and less heavy. Your bicycle should also be comfortable and suitable for your height (the more adjustments there are possible, the better you will be able to find the right position).
As you cycle further and further, you will definitely appreciate a certain type of seat or different gear ratios to adapt to changes in ground level. Since all the parts are interchangeable, you can always adapt your bicycle to your specific needs. "Bikaholics" like to custom design their bikes, right from the frame to the saddlebag. But obviously, this is an expensive option.
For your bags:
The amount of luggage you have will depend on whether you are planning on sleeping in a tent, in a bed and breakfast or in a rented chalet or bungalow. In all cases, travel light and bring only what's necessary; choose light equipment. Everything should be considered in weight terms.
There are different possibilities for transporting your bags:
- Front or back saddlebags. Check the maximum allowable weight of your saddlebags.
- Trailers: these are practical and keep your bags clean and dry; they are less "taxing" on the bicycle than saddlebags. Moreover, they constitute an extra security measure since drivers tend to be more careful around them (some people even cycle with an empty trailer for this reason).
- Huge backpacks are a big no-no as they cause you to hunch. Unless you want to break your back, avoid big backpacks or any backpacks in general for that matter.
Keep equipment to a strict minimum. Think of everything in weight terms: light tents, light but warm clothes (gore-tex and similar), high-energy foods (therefore weighing less). If you are taking a book, choose a 100 page book on philosophy that will keep you occupied for a long time, rather than the entire collection of the Lord of the Rings. And before leaving, try cycling over a short distance to ensure that your equipment is not weighing you down too much.
Equipment for bicycle maintenance and repairs:
To pare your list down to a few items, here are the necessary things you should bring with you.
- brake pads
- essential items for flats: patches, glue, a set of 3 tire levers, a rasp, anti-puncture spray (not really necessary but would certainly be helpful on days when you are very tired).
- A set of Allen and Tork keys (make sure that you have all the correct sizes for your bicycle frame)
- Inner tube
- Pedal wrench
- Open-end wrenches
- A screwdriver
- Lubricating oil
If you are the extra-careful sort:
- Brake cable
- Derailleur cable
- Chain tool
But most important of all, renovate your bicycle before you leave (tires, brake cable, lubricate the chain, etc.), check the tire pressure, and so on. This will help avoid any problems later on during your journey.
Camping and hiking equipment:
If possible, bring a tent that could also shelter your bicycles. Since "light" is the keyword, a tepee is one excellent solution.
Cooking equipment and multi-fuel camping stoves. Or you could opt for high-energy and cold foods (bologna, salami, small salads, etc.) to save on the weight of carrying a stove.
A solar charger if you need to charge small electronic devices. Or a dynamo light and radio if you aren't afraid of getting tired.
Most of all, take only the strict necessary and the lightest possible things.
Other ideas or questions? Feel free to contact us.
Be-ecolo recommends the following website Traduction Ink
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