Torbjorn Zetterlund

Tue 08 2016

How to prepare for a long cycle trip

by bernt & torsten

I’m going to share with you – how I go about planning a long cycle trip, it consists of several factors and I will share my thoughts with you. Before I get started there is 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 skillshare in Spain I had my start and end location. Next, I used Google Maps – and set my birth and end location to get the possible route. Google often gives you more than one option, I used the option of the car and set the options to avoid the highway and tolls. Here is an example of Venice to Amsterdam.

Break down distance

Then I break the distance down to what I can do in a day, I record it in a spreadsheet – I try to bike 8-10 hours a day, the distance per hour is about 20 km, which will be about 180 to 200 km in a day. If it is hilly the distance is shorter. To break it down into small workable daily trips, I use Google Maps – so, for instance, on my first day going from Venice I would get to Trento 153km – this is the route.

The issue with Google Maps is that it does not cover bike routes in all countries, there are no bike routes for Italy or Spain, and when Google has bike routes it is any type of bike routes road, path, or gravel.

So what I do is to use a tool like – where I can make more detailed routes and also look at other details such as elevation to get to see how hilly it is, Google does 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 Maps for Android they have turn-by-turn navigation built into the app, the problem I faced was battery time.

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 charges your phone while biking – there or some options, a solar panel or bike dynamo power or get 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’m a bit more luxurious – I give myself a budget of 25/Euro per day for a bed in a hostel or a room through Airbnb. Then I have a budget of 15 euros for food and drinks – I spent around 40 euros 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 a sleeping bag or tent, if you go camping, then you would need it. I invested in a cycle bag a German Brand called Vaude – I got this model, the Karakorum – I had repair tools with me such as a new chain, a tool to change a chain, and a tool to truing spokes, some extra spokes, extra inner tubes (4), repair kit for fixing a tube, a multi-tool.

I carried a bag to pack my bike in for the flight back home. With the Karakorum, I used one bag for all my clothes, the other bag for tools and food and then the 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 pants and a rain jacket, I also had a 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 coming down, on my way to Spain I did not encounter any rain, my trip to Sweden was different it rained every day.

I try to avoid biking when it is really coming down heavy, I usually find a cover and sit it out, or tills the rain is not too heavy. You also need to have a rain cover for your bags, the Karakorum bags came with one and that kept bags dry.