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YHA Preparing for long bike rides
    29/10/2013 09:07

Preparing for long bike rides

Has Britain's success in the Tour de France inspired you to take your cycling a bit more seriously? Are you planning on extending your route a little further than a lap of your local cycle tracks? Our blog has previously given you some cycling routes inspired by the recent Tour of Britain, but there are many more to explore across the British countryside.

If you're planning a long cycle trip, you should be aware of the kit you'll need to take with you to have an enjoyable and safe ride. Let's assume you've already got a decent lightweight bike suitable for your chosen terrain - as well as a solid helmet - and look at the extras…

 

Spares

Any cyclist heading out on a long bike ride should carry spare bits of kit that can keep their wheels turning in the event of a breakdown. A puncture repair kit is an obvious must, but a spare inner tube is advisable in case a serious puncture proves too difficult to repair - and remember that both are useless unless you have a small hand-pump with you! 

The chain is what gets everything working, so take with you a chain tool and a few spare links - if your chain snaps you'll be able to take out the broken link and replace it. An Allen key tool is also important for quick tightening and running repairs - especially to severed gear and brake cables. You can take spare cable, but an Allen key should allow you to complete a temporary fix if you're stuck.

 

Kit

Many cyclists head off with just a water bottle, a pump and a spare inner tube, but if you don't have that much experience, it's best to take a small rucksack with you. In here, you should store a waterproof jacket (lightweight to allow free movement of the arms), and a warm hat if you're riding in the autumn or winter - while you might not want it while you're riding, if you have to stop for any reason, it will be welcome.

A map is important as it's easy to get lost if you don't know your route well from experience, but your bag should also contain some lights for your bike, in case getting lost means cycling back in the dark. A first-aid kit is also advisable - cuts, grazes and blisters can make for very uncomfortable riding.

For those not used to long rides, you may find them to be a bit more gruelling than you expected! A few energy bars in your pack will provide you with that extra boost you may need.

 

Before you set off

Make sure your bike has received a full service before you go out. You can get a professional to do this for you - and it is advisable if you're dealing with spoke tightening - but learn to do the basics yourself. It's not difficult, and a clean, well-oiled machine will be less likely to get you in trouble out on your ride, and give you a more enjoyable experience.

Once you're got all the necessary bits, plan your destination and check out our range of great-value hostels - many have dedicated cycle storage and are used to dealing with the needs of cyclists.

By A Hosteller

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