The pandemic has put ecological issues back at the center of discussions and in particular our travel habits. It is therefore logical that the trend of cycle tourism is exploding. Shall we get started?
The right alternative for traveling galore? Get in the saddle! An ecological alternative to polluting trips by plane or car, some are ready to travel thousands of kilometers across Europe and beyond, with their hands on the handlebars. Like journalist and Instagram content creator Laurianne Melierre, who has been cycling around France with her friend Marion on and off for three years. Together, they created the FreeTheCycle Instagram account, to share their adventures on the road. And show everyone that there is no need to be super sporty, super trained or even to go super far to have fun on a bike.
In a recent story, Laurianne explains that “traveling by bike can be a day like it can be a year”. Cycling is an activity open to as many people as possible, thanks to which everyone can follow their route according to their profile and their desires, including small budgets. Want to get started this summer? Here are our tips for setting off on an adventure, one pedal stroke at a time. Because if there is nothing simpler than traveling with your bicycle, it cannot be improvised.
Cycle touring, instructions for use
Go on an adventure without asking any questions, do you like it? With your feet on the pedals and helmet on your head, you’re ready to roll to destinations you tended to ignore before the pandemic. However, setting off on a bicycle on a whim takes a little bit of preparation. First of all, be aware that traveling alone or with others requires a different organization. If you’d rather go solo, FreeTheCycle offers these tips.
1. Prepare for the adventure. First, you must favor the cycle routes (lanes reserved for bicycles and appropriately signposted), anticipate your nights by booking accommodation on your way, and look at some activities in the area that would be of interest to you.
2. Test yourself before you go. In addition, Marion and Laurianne recommend testing 2 or 3 nights, if you are traveling alone for the first time.
3. Find the right place to sleep. Safety question, if you go solo, avoid the tent in the middle of nature, you never know, it is better to plan your night in a youth hostel or a campsite. You will be more sheltered from danger and it will be more comfortable. On the other hand, if you are traveling with others, sleeping under the stars or in a tent can be a fun and economical option. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to camp or bivouac anywhere. To help you avoid a fine of 1,500 euros, here are the conditions according to article R-111-32 of the town planning code: “Camping is freely practiced, outside the influence of roads and public thoroughfares, under the conditions set by this sub-section, with the agreement of the person who has the use of the land, subject, where applicable, to the opposition of the owner”.
4. What about eating, then? It is recommended to buy products with little packaging, to reduce your waste and not have to struggle to find trash cans on the way. Bread and a piece of cheese or a tin of sardines, it’s perfect because it doesn’t mind the heat. Also, take some fruit. A good idea: take Tupperware with you. It is often possible to ask in the lodging or the hotel which lodges you if they cannot prepare you friction for the midday. A tabbouleh, a pasta salad, a ratatouille … this allows you to vary the pleasures day after day. Regarding meat, dry sausage is very easy to store in the open air. Don’t forget the snacks either. Besides fruits, dried fruits, and cereal bars. Will give you an energy boost for a long time.
Where to go? Our cycling tourism destination ideas
If you live in the North and want to go to the South, you will still have to plan a short train ride, unless you want to make a trip of several days. It is therefore important to plan your route and to plan a good organization to know where to sleep and where to go to avoid the tile.
The Loire à Vélo is one of the most popular places for cycle tourism. Everything is perfectly organized (signage, dedicated lane, accommodation, repair, and rental shops, etc.). Yet other (less frequented) destinations are waiting for you, such as the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel or the wonders of the Camargue. To find an unusual and less frequented destination, we advise you to use the francevelotourisme site or the book Slow Vélo by Bérangère Florin and Eugénie Triebel. For example, the two authors offer you an escape from Strasbourg to Colmar on the route of the vineyards of the region. Everything is detailed there, the length of the stay, the number of kilometers per stage, a practical sheet, and their logbook. Ideal for all cycle touring enthusiasts looking for something new.
Luggage and equipment: leave nothing to chance
When it comes to luggage, the keyword is sharing. The more you share hygiene products, the lighter you will travel. “The most important thing to pack is the weight/volume/utility ratio”, we can read on FreeTheCycle. It will be very easy knowing that, to wash your clothes, you will undoubtedly find laundromats in case of real need. Do not hesitate to take some laundry capsules with you. Alternatively, according to the count, you can choose to hand wash most of your stuff using natural multi-purpose soap, again access to water in cemeteries is straightforward. Also, opt for merino T-shirts. This wool, very light and breathable, retains very little odor. We can therefore wear the same garment several days in a row before having to wash it. To reduce dirty laundry, separate clothes made for pedaling and those for the evening. And remember that you are going on an adventure. Reduce the exchange as much as possible.
What equipment to bring for a cycling adventure?
A rule already: try to borrow or rent before thinking of buying.
Here is a list of the basic equipment for cycling touring:
– A pair of gloves (or mittens to protect the palms of your hands)
– Well-breathable clothing suitable for cycling in hot conditions
– A reflective garment (vest yellow safety jacket ) – A jacket with hood and made with a waterproof and breathable membrane. If it starts to rain, you can quickly get very cold.
– A helmet (light and breathable if possible)
– Sunglasses (both to protect yourself from the sun and to avoid getting debris or an insect in the eye)
– Front and rear lights: 200 lumens or more for the main lamp
– A bicycle pump (mandatory)
– An inner tube repair kit (patch, glue, and tire iron) and especially learn how to do it before leaving!
– Two air chambers (it’s safer)
– A survival blanket (in case of injury, bad weather …)
– A mobile phone with a charger and an external 10,000 mAh battery
– A water reserve of 2 liters
– A first aid kit
– Saddlebags to take it all (especially not to have everything on your back, it’s hell)
So when do you plan to ride?