Six essential tips for booking your first cycling holiday

Thinking of getting out on the bike next summer? Read our advice

Are you considering booking a cycling holiday for summer 2015? Fancy cruising around on a bike during your next break? Heed our advice on making it one of the best experiences rather than one fraught with worry.

Below, Paul Joseph, co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, shares his best advice for booking that first cycling holiday.

Make sure that you have a browse of our existing holiday guides first, though, such as our pick of the best destinations in Belgium, Spain, Italy and France, as well as our advice on how to pack up a bike to take on holiday and general advice on travelling abroad.

1. Is a cycling holiday for you?

"If you're travelling solo, a cycling holiday is a great way to enjoying some precious ‘me time’ away from the distractions of daily life – or meet like-minded singles who share your love for cycling. Suitable for all ages and abilities, the intensity and distance of a cycling holiday can be easily adapted by varying the routes, making cycling breaks a great healthy holiday option for families though. Or hop on and discover new destinations as you make memories with your other half on a couples getaway, or even turn your cycling adventure into a healthy honeymoon."

2. Which holiday should you go for?

"Road cycling is the most widespread form of cycling and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, whether recreational, touring or racing. For those who are keen runners and swimmers, as well as cycling enthusiasts, a triathlon training holiday is a dream come true. If you’ve got the stamina, opt for a cross country or mountain biking holiday and feel the rush of exhilaration as you free-wheel down mountain-sides! For a totally different but still challenging style of cycling, complement a healthy holiday with spinning – indoor cycling on a stationary bike, set to music and led by a certified instructor."

3. The best destinations

Tuscany is both beautiful and full of beautiful rides:
Tuscany is both beautiful and full of beautiful rides:

Tuscany is both beautiful and full of beautiful rides

"Majorca’s magnificent scenery makes it an island Mecca for cyclists, with accessible rides to the mountains, beaches and cultural highlights on superb roads as well as challenging mountain biking routes. If you're looking for a cross country cycling break in a beautiful rural location, try Tuscany, which is good for day mountain biking tours, varying from 22km to 50km.

"For expert triathlon coaching, Thailand is a fantastic venue for athletes of all abilities – just make sure to avoid the monsoon season (July to September). If spinning is your thing, head to St Lucia where there are classes held in a jungle rooftop studio and you can mix it up with aqua spinning for a muscle-toning session."

4. Other activities to factor in

You may want to factor in some yoga or spa sessions to help recover and recover your energies:
You may want to factor in some yoga or spa sessions to help recover and recover your energies:

You may want to factor in some yoga or spa sessions to help recover and recover your energies

"Combine your cycling holiday with a luxury spa break and recharge after an active day with a healing sports massage, for some post-cycling muscle relaxation and recovery. Meanwhile, aqua-spinning classes are a fantastic way to build your strength while simultaneously relieving any strain on your joints. Heightening your strength, balance and mental clarity, yoga is a fantastic complement on a cycling holiday. Practice prāṇāyāma for advanced breathing control."

5. What to do before you go

It would be a good idea to put in some practice before you go away:
It would be a good idea to put in some practice before you go away:

It would be a good idea to put in some practice before you go away

"A month before you embark on your healthy holiday, start to exercise more regularly – just three 30-minute cardio workouts a week will give you the extra bit of strength needed to keep going when training on your trip. [There are some tips in this article on how to get fit fast.] Making healthy food choices will also help you to feel energised, so eat balanced and nutritious meals, avoiding processed and refined-sugary foods, and you’ll soon notice an increase in your energy levels.

"Finally, ensure you've got all of your kit prepared so your holiday is stress free." (Read on for advice on what to pack.)

6. What to take

"The all-important essentials of bike and helmet should be provided by your healthy retreat. [If you're taking your own, then have a read of this on how to pack up your bike for taking abroad]. However, there are a few more items which you’ll appreciate while on your cycling holiday. Use this handy checklist to make sure you’ve got everything you need.

  • Cycling shorts (consider padded)
  • Padded seat cover
  • Tops (avoid cotton and choose something breathable to move moisture away from your body)
  • Extra layers (make it easier to adapt according to weather conditions)
  • Gloves (provide better grip when sweating)
  • Worn-in trainers (don’t risk blisters and discomfort from brand-new shoes!)
  • Small backpack
  • Good drinking bottle
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • Sunglasses and suncream
  • A camera to capture the memories!

"Remember, you don’t need expensive equipment in order to be successful – you just need to give it all you’ve got and have fun while you’re doing it!"

Gregor is BikeRadar's Beginners and Family section editor after leading a cycling heavy youth and regularly clocking up more than 34 miles on the ride to work each day. He's interested in the lighter side of cycling, such as commuting, children's bikes and the occasional short sportive. He also helps to keep BikeRadar's forum in check, and can often be found joining in conversation threads on how to step chafing and the like.

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