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Bicycle Touring Preparation

The best way I can approach the subject of bicycle touring preparation is by describing how my friend and I did this task before our wonderful Rhine River tour, back during October 2010.

Note: since then we’ve had several other great rides. The last one was our bicycle trip in Japan. You are invited to take a look. There is a special section there about bicycle touring preparation.

It was indeed only a 1-week trip, but we approached it as a “bicycle touring” trip and collected as many bicycle touring tips as we could.

Equipment required for bicycle touring preparation can vary depending on several factors. Some of these factors include destination, expected weather, and personal preferences. Nonetheless, there are several items one would usually want to have on most trips. Some of the things we decided to bring are described below.

Pre-Departure Bicycle Touring Preparation

Here are the major bicycle touring preparation issues:

Prepare Your Bicycle

For our Rhine River tour of 7 riding days we decided that our Giant, hard-tail mountain bikes were enough, but if you are planning a long journey they might not be the best touring bicycle.

Our choice of mountain bikes was based on the fact that we wanted bikes that would be appropriate for all kinds of roads – from smooth asphalt to tooth-jarring single tracks. We have decided not to buy a bike specifically designed for touring.

To enhance our basic cross-country mountain bikes, we brought our own saddles, handlebar grips and pedals.

Preventive maintenance is very important, so I suggest you visit your local bicycle store before your trip. This is a major step in your bicycle touring preparation checklist. Spending money on preventive maintenance is “money well spent.”: As uncomfortable as such spending is, it is infinitely better than being stranded in the middle of nowhere as a result of a preventable mechanical problem! I suggest you replace the chain, brake pads, brake cables and the chain rings and cogs set.

We decided not to use bicycle trailers. We used panniers to carry our stuff. In addition, we also used cycling backpacks and saddle bags

Cycling Equipment

  • Power gel: about 3 packages for each riding day. (We assumed that finding food was not going to be a problem on this trip – see pictures below.)
  • And, of course, a helmet.
  • On some biking blogs they say that bicycle GPS and bicycle touring do not go together well. Still, we decided to take with us our GARMIN ETrex GPS, just in case…

Cycling Clothes

  • One pair of cycling-shoes (soft shoes, with cleats).
  • 3 pairs of socks (unfortunately we did not have special cycling socks, which would have dried faster).
  • 3 pairs of underwear, 3 bicycling jerseys.
  • Bicycle rain gear: One jacket with long sleeves, and one with short sleeves.
  • 2 pairs of gloves: fingerless and full finger cycling gloves.
  • Helmet liners
  • 3 pairs of bicycle shorts. (We decided not to bring cycling tights, but decided later they would have made the trip more comfortable.)

Personal Equipment

As part of your bicycle touring preparation you should make sure that you are taking with you some required personal equipment, such as:

  • Coffee-making kit.
  • Personal documents, money and books.
  • Outdoor first aid kit, including sun protection cream and pain relief cream (Bengay.
  • Camera: We had a camera for still pictures. Regarding the video, my experience with a helment video camera is not that great (see our trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand), so I decided to use my good old Sony DV camera instead.
  • Maps: The best map for a bicycle touring trip is a 1:75000 scale cycling map.

Prepare Yourself

Here we were quite lazy. In theory, it is best to be in shape. This is a major issue as part of your bicycle touring preparations. Being unprepared can lead to biking pain (here’s some more about bicycling and pain). This was the result of our trip.

I would suggest you read more about the subject and even join a cycling training program.

Bicycle Trip in Japan – The Movie

Rhine River Tour - The (short..) Movie

Books About Bicycle Touring Preparation

More information about bicycle touring can be found in several informative books. Take a look at these selected books:

Bicycle Touring Preparation
 Bicycle Touring Preparation
Bicycle Touring Preparation

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