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The Globetrotting Cyclist – Biking Overseas

Category: Pro Tips, Uncategorized

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Are you one who craves adventure? Interested in a long-distance cycling trip, or even one overseas? Cycling is one of the best ways to see a country – to quote a time-worn cliche, it turns the journey itself into the destination. Not for you the plane, harbinger of cold and flu, sausage-stuffed with passengers; the bus, with leaking lavatories, innumerable stops, and air conditioning always too hot or too cold; expensive car rental, with navigation of foreign insurance and road customs. On a bike, you’re never far away from a beautiful stop, and you never have to worry about parking.

However, there are a few things which will help maximize the fun in your overseas cycling adventure.

First, whether you’re taking a bus, train, or airplane, you are likely to have to pack your bike. Baggage handling can be hard on your bike, so make sure you pack it up well! Specialized bike containers are available for frequent travellers, but a low-cost option is often to purchase a used bicycle box from your local bike store and pack it up in that. Of course, your friendly local bike mechanic can do this for you, too! One of the myths surrounding shipping your bicycle by airplane is that your tires might explode as the pressure in the airplane’s cargo hold decreases. Since pressure at sea level is 14.7 psi, the maximum relative change in tire pressure is this – unless you’re running your tires at or higher than the maximum inflation for your tires, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any issues.

Other countries may also have different standards for bicycle components. A great example of this is tires – go to any bike store, and there are a dizzying array of different tire sizes available for differing standards over the years. Make sure you are aware of what components will be on offer in your destination country(ies), and carry spares if you are worried about availability of compatible parts, or if you’re going to be far away from places you can get your bike repaired!

Similarly, a good toolkit is very useful to have, along with some of the basic skills required to fix common bike issues. Good things to know how to do are to replace or repair tires and tubes, true wheels, replace brake and shifter cables and adjust the same, and replace chains. Of course, you can make it less likely that you’ll encounter some of these issues by having your bike tuned up and travel-prepped by a competent local mechanic. A suggested toolkit to take would be chain oil, a set of allen keys, tire levers, patches, spare tubes and/or tires, a pump, spare spokes, spoke wrenches, and standard wrenches as needed – of course, a multitool can substitute for many of these.

Aside from a toolkit, make sure your bike is kitted out with the equipment appropriate for your trip. A good helmet, lock, and lights are a must, as well as bags for carrying luggage. Ortlieb bags are one of the most well-regarded brands of bicycle luggage in the world, and we stock their full product line at Denman Bikes.

Finally, if you’re interested in doing a bicycle vacation over just a regular vacation, consider that many countries have a rich cycling heritage and may have better cycling infrastructure or a better attitude towards cycle tourists. That being said, locals are often happy to see cycle tourists wherever you might go!

I hope that this helps inspire your next bike trip, or to open your mind to the possibilities of overseas cycling. Happy riding!