Yes, we’re talking to you. The one who casually considered a few itineraries that used terms like ‘explore at handlebar level’, skipping over the kilometres of cycling tucked within their text before settling on your favourite contender. You’ve known how to ride a bike for 25 years, what could go wrong?
We know what those affectionate pedalling expressions mean because we use them and we use them often. We also know what it means to have a sore bum after 30kms in the saddle in rural Sri Lanka due to a lack of pre-trip training. Spontaneity can be a sharp double edged sword.
If there’s anything we’ve learned over our years of operating itineraries that include cycling, it’s that distances and physical requirements are often underestimated. To help avoid any surprises after you don your helmet, we’ve compiled our top tips for preparing for a trip that will have you experiencing the world on two wheels.
1. Read the trip grading and understand what it entails.
We grade our trips on a system from one to five, and trips that include cycling normally hit a two or three. Just as you would prepare for a trek at altitude, it’s important to read the suggested training information that relates to your trip. Do your research, ask your friends for advice, join a cycling group if you have to. The first step is learning exactly where your fitness level should be and what it will take to get there.
2. Get friendly with your bike.
Give it a name, add some decorations, whisper sweet nothings in its ear; do whatever you have to do to make it your own. Before you put in the hard yards you should be comfortable with your set of wheels and its functions, such as which gears to use and how to adjust the seat.
3. Climb hills. Lots of them.
Whether you choose to do this by bike or on foot, you’ll want to show up to the trip briefing with your legs as strong as Popeye’s arms. The more hills the merrier.
4. Ride in a variety of weather conditions.
Rain or shine, the cycling will go on. The best way to ensure you are physically (and mentally) prepared for this is to practice riding in a variety of conditions before you leave home.
5. Ride on a variety of surfaces.
Pavement, dirt and rocks; it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter only one during your travels. In an ideal world, you’d be relaxed cycling across all three.
6. Practice sharing the road with others.
If you’ve been cycling in Southeast Asia, you’ll understand why this is important. Though our trips primarily pass through rural areas, there’s no telling when you’ll find yourself simultaneously on the road with scooters, tuk tuks, a stray dog and the occasional monkey. The more comfortable you are sharing the road with others, the better.
7. Mix up your workouts.
If your itinerary includes cycling, there’s a good chance that it includes some combination of hiking, rafting, and rock climbing as well. Not only does training for multiple types of activities make you stronger and more prepared for what’s to come, it breaks up the repetition to make your workout more enjoyable, too.
8. Be consistent.
Once you sort out your training schedule, stick to it like glue.
9. Rack up the kms.
And if all else fails, the best way to ensure you are prepared to hit the road is to simply rack up as many kilometres as possible in the lead up to your trip.
Join travellers in their 20s & 30s and hit the road on one of our cycling adventures.