How to prepare for a long cycle trip

I’m going to share with you – how I go about to plan a long cycle trip, it consist of several factors and I will share my thoughts with you. Before I get started there are some planning needed The way I start any bike trip, is to just decide on where to start and where to go, when I took the trip from Amsterdam to skill share in Spain I had my start and end location.

  1. Next, I used Google Maps – and set my start and end location to get the possible route, google often give you more than one option, I used the option of car and set the options to avoid highway, tolls, here is an example for Venice to Amsterdam.

Then I break the distance down to what I can do in a day, I record it in a spreadsheet (shared with you) – I try to bike 8-10 hours a day, distance per hour is about 20 km, that will be about 180 to 200 km in a day. If it is hilly the distance is shorter. To break it down to small workable daily trips, I use Google Maps – so for instance my first day if going from Venice I would get to Trento 153km – this is the route. The issue with Google Maps is that it do not cover bike routes in all countries, there is no bike routes for Italy or Spain, and when google have bike routes it is any type of bike routes road, path, gravel.

So what I do is to use a tool like – there I can make more detailed routes and also look at other details as elevation to get to see how hilly it is, google do provide elevation for some countries for bike routes. I would look for a tool that you can download the details to your phone, I used Google Map for Android they have a turn by turn navigation built into the app, the problem I faced was battery time. I could only use the turn by turn navigation for about 4 hours then my battery was emptied on my Android phone, I tried with an Iphone as well and that gave me about the same battery length, so you either need to look for a device that charge your phone while biking – there or some options, a solar panel or bike dynamo power or get a turn-by-turn navigation like Garmin Edge Touring GPS that you can build your routes in and get up to 17 hours of battery time.

You have to sleep
Cost – it depends on how you going to sleep, you can just take a tent and camp on your way, I was bit more luxuries – I gave myself a of 25/Euro per day for a bed in a hostel or a room through AirBnB. Then I had a budget for 15 euro for food and drinks – I spent around 40 Euro a day on my ride to spain. You also need to factor in some extra money if you need to repair your bike, in some places you might need to take a ferry to cross a river – that can cost you a few euros as well.

What to bring
I did not camp so I did not have sleeping bag or tent, if you do camping then you would need it. I invested in a cycle bag a German Brand called Vaude – I got this model Karakoum – I had repair tools with me such as a new chain, tool to change a chain, spokes and tools to truin spokes, extra inner tubes (4), repair kit for fixing a tube, a multi tool. I carried a bag with me to pack my bike in for the flight back home. With the Karakoum I used one bag for all my clothes, the other bag for tools, and food and then top bag I used for the bag to pack my bike and for rain clothes. I also had a pair of shoes with me, as I was biking with cycling shoes that have cleats.

What if it rains
I had a full rain cover with me, rain paints and rain jacket, I also had rain cover for my bike shoes, that give a bit of cover for getting your shoes and socks wet and give you some warmth when it really coming down, on my way to Spain I did not encounter any rain, my trip to sweden was different it rained everyday. I try to avoid biking when it is really coming down heavy, I normally find a cover and sit it out or tills in not too heavy. You also need to have a rain cover for your bags, with the Karakoum came with one and that kept my clothes dry.