It’s that time of year again and you’re thinking about packing up the family bikes ready for the family holiday. Cycling is one of the best ways to appreciate an area as so much is missed when you whizz past in a car.
So you’ve checked that the cottage has bike storage and you’ve found an old puncture repair kit, and now you’re ready. But hold fire! A quick read through our infographic could pay dividends if you want to avoid roadside breakdowns, crying children and / or sunstroke!
1) Speak to the cottage owner during the booking process
Different people have different ideas about what ‘bike storage’ actually means. This can range from a fully lockable garage to a corner of the front garden, exposed to all the elements. Your daughters pink trike might be worth the risk, but your brand new all-carbon road racer may well need special security measures.
By taking time to speak to the owner (phone number conveniently listed on each advert), not only can you check out the suitability of the bike storage facilities, you can also gain valuable insight into local routes, hilliness, local beauty spots and decent pubs and cafes to enjoy en route.
2) Book bikes in for a service well in advance of the holiday
Bike shops and local technicians can get pretty booked up during the summer months, so you may have to plan ahead. Worn gears, stretched chains, thin break pads and baggy derailleur cables can all become a real problem out on a ride, with a long walk back to the cottage if a roadside repair isn’t viable. Having a pro look over the bikes is a must if you want to maximise your time in the saddle.
3) Research and plan some local rides, with stop-off points
Be realistic about the distance and time of a circular ride. Especially with a mixed group of different ages, abilities and fitness levels. Start with 10 miles per hour for a reasonably fit family, down to 5 miles an hour or even 2 miles an hour if some of the group will be walking.
Look to incorporate cafes and pubs on the route. You may well be able to blast out 50 miles without stopping, but a family or group of friends will want to stop to chat, take in the sights and stop for breaks.
Make use of the 14,000 miles of hand selected cycle routes forming the National Cycle Network up and down the UK – visit https://www.sustrans.org.uk/ for more details.
4) Pack light, but pack well
Pack a few tools to leave back at the cottage and plan to take a few out on the ride. Depending on how remote the cottage is, you might not easily be able to visit a bike shop for a spare cable or inner tube.
- Spare inner tubes – remember, in a group people may well have different wheel sizes too
- Tyre lever(s)
- Multi-tool for roadside repairs
- Miscellaneous tools: spanners, pliers, etc. to leave back at the holiday cottage
- Track pump and a small hand pump
- Puncture repair kit
- Spare chain links
- Saddlebag, pannier or rucksack
- Bike locks
- Sunscreen with 4/5 star UVA filter
- Water bottles and energy snacks (we love jelly babies!)
- Safety gear (see below)
Depending on your location, you may well have to share the road with cars and lorries. Even the National Cycle Network crosses some busy roads at times. The harsh reality is that other road users often get frustrated with cyclists. The fact that you had the right of way will be of cold comfort from your hospital bed not to mention the huge dampener an accident will have on the holiday.
- Wear bright colours – avoid all black.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Have lights on your bikes at all times, even if you plan to be back before dark.
- Carry spare batteries.
- Pay attention to your surroundings; especially at sharp bends, roundabouts and single track roads.
- Communicate with your group. Warning people behind you of a pothole could prevent someone from diving out into the traffic in an effort to avoid it.
- Brush up on your highway code. Teach children by asking them what certain signs mean.
- Remember: Water and sunscreen are for safety not comfort!
6) Think of non-cyclists in the group
If members of your family or group are non cyclists, arrange to meet them at a beauty spot for a picnic, or book a table at a nearby pub for lunch. Ask nicely and they’re likely to find room in their car for a few spares and supplies.…and don’t forget a bike rack in case a member of the group is too tired, had too much sun or too much lunchtime ‘refreshment’ and wants a lift home!
Whether you take your own bike on holiday or hire one locally, cycling is a great way of burning those holiday calories and provides a wonderful way of exploring a new area. Get out in the fresh air and make the most of miles and hours of free entertainment. For some inspiration, take a look through our holiday cottages with bike storage.