Last month, Team Wiggle's Ed Tibbitts ventured out on his first bikepacking tour; taking in Croatia, Italy and then Switzerland. To provide an insight into the joys and excitement of a cycle tour, he's written this great blog post.
This August, I flew out to Split (Croatia) with a friend, then cycled 900 kilometres back to Zürich (Switzerland); through Slovenia and Italy - climbing over 10,000m in the process, and staying in hotels and B&B's along the way.
What did I choose to take with me?
With a long trip, including lots of climbing, what I had read and heard is that it's key to pack light, and as minimally as possible. Not something I've been very good at in the past...
I'm the guy who always takes more energy bars than he needs on any given ride, and likes to have the choice of different kit to wear.
Packing so light was quite difficult, but I managed to get there; whilst doing the best I could to ensure my comfort levels were high, and I was ready for any foul weather.
Here are some of the key essentials I took with me:
- Oakley Glasses
- Assos chamois cream (the top rated product on Wiggle!)
- Science in Sport Water Bottles
- Science in Sport Whey20 Protein Snacks
- Science in Sport Hydration Tablets
- Gore Bike Wear Oxygen 2.0 Bib Shorts
- Gore Bike Wear Active Shell Light Jacket
- Gore Bike Wear Xenon Short Finger Gloves
- Gore Bike Wear Mid-length Socks
- Wiggle Nutrition Energy Gels
- Lifeline Inner Tubes
- Topeak multitool
- TREK bars
- Nakd. Bars
What did I use to carry it?
Both these strapping devices were strong and sturdy; with well made fabrics and put together 100 percent by hand, in Yorkshire, UK.
One thing to look out for is how much weight you place in both of them. I found with lots of weight in the rear that it tended to rock side-to-side when standing and climbing. It was much better to pack this with the lighter but more bulky kit, and I preferred the weight on the front of the bike.
Both of these packs are very versatile, and a great way to kit out any traditional race bike with carriage for a small bike trip, without adding heavy pannier racking etc.
We started in Croatia, with 4 days of fairly flat riding along the coast of Croatia. We had hot sunny days for the first few, with a bit of a headwind. The gentle start provided some time to get our bodies used to things, before the mountains started to appear.
- Day 1: 53km (740m climbed) (Strava link)
- Day 2: 110km (1134m climbed) (Strava link)
- Day 3: 148km (1518m climbed) (Strava link)
- Day 4: 122km (1914m climbed) (Strava link)
On day 5, we arrived at the foot of the Italian Alps. This is right at the heart of cycling country; with some huge mountains and beautiful scenery. Much of the area is surrounded by National Parks.
- Day 5: 194km (637m climbed) (Strava link)
- Day 6: Shorter day 25km (Strava link)
- Day 7: 171km (3,296m climbed) (Strava link)
And finally onto Switzerland, and a well deserved train home back to Paris, and then London.
- Day 8: 153km (802m) (Strava link)
It is essential to build yourself up for long consecutive rides. Before this trip, I had been trying to ride a lot of back to back days, and long days, too.
As well as riding regularly each week, and clocking up enough consistent miles each month, here are some of the longer rides I completed to warm up for the trip.
- Bournemouth 100 miles (Strava)
- Dorset 100 miles (Strava)
- South Downs MTB ride (Strava)
- Ride London 100 miles (Strava)
This was my first ever bike touring trip, and I had a brilliant time away.
Bicycle touring provides a great way to explore new countries, cultures, and food; I'd encourage you to plan one of your own, bring friends, and ride!