10 Cycle touring mistakes

We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Here’s a list of mistakes that are easy to make when cycle touring, and easy to avoid.

1 – Not taking your time

My advice for planning a tour is simple: take your leisurely cycling speed, on a laden bike and similar terrain, then work out what a comfortable daily distance is for you. It’s your bike tour, so do it at a pace that suits you – a pace that allows you to stop often, take pictures, drink in the scenery, and talk to people.

It’s not a race, and you really shouldn’t be trying to go faster all the time. If you did, you’d miss out on far too much!

2 – Not going

When you tell people you want to go cycle touring, prepare for a deluge of “helpful” advice that’s actually quite the opposite. Some will warn you of all the dangers (cycle touring is actually very safe) while others will gasp at the prospect of cycling whatever distance you wanted to do. And then they’ll try to talk you out of it. Don’t listen to them!

3 – Not filling water bottles up

Get in the habit of filling your water bottles up at every available opportunity. Yes, even if they’re only half-empty. Water, more than anything else, is what you need to keep going, and you’ll be surprised how even in the UK you can get caught out without water to drink.

Also, drink regularly, and importantly, drink before you get thirsty!

4 – Not knowing your gear

When it’s blowing a hooley, and bucketing down with rain is not the time to learn how to pitch that new tent of yours! Always test our your kit before going touring, and familiarise yourself with how it works.

5 – Packing too much stuff

Especially before a longer trip, go on some shorter rides – even if just overnight rides – and check how much of your kit you didn’t use. If you regularly don’t use it, then (unless it’s an emergency essential) simply don’t take it!

6 – Not taking emergency gear

This includes an emergency shelter, a first-aid kit, a sewing kit (especially on longer tours), nail clippers (just trust me on this one) or a rain coat. Also, ensure you have spare cables, and spare brake pads!

7 – Not eating enough

Depending on the terrain, how far you ride each day, and how much weight you’re carrying, you can easily burn up to 8 000 calories per day. Those are calories you need to replace!

All your life you’ve been taught snacking all day is wrong, and three big meals per day is right. Well, when touring, you need to snack. Eat little, eat often is the best advice there is when cycle touring.

8 – Not learning how to do basic roadside repairs

In a perfect world, nothing will ever go wrong with your bike. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. From changing inner tubes, to replacing brake pads or gear cables, these are very useful skills to have.

9 – Overdoing sugar

Sure, you’re burning the calories, so by all means, do have that slice of cake. Just be aware that your body needs more that chocolate bars, or burgers from fast food places. Try to have some proper food at regular intervals, even if that means eating in a restaurant that isn’t a fast food outlet.

Also consider doing more cooking on your camping stove, and buy the ingredients as late in the day as possible. Have a look here for some great single-pot recipes.

10 – Carrying a backpack

Backpacks are great for hiking, but not for cycle touring. You want all the weight off your body, and onto the bike. Your back, your arms and especially your wrists will appreciate it if you don’t go cycle touring with a backpack. After all, you have far better options for carrying luggage on a bike.

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