Think you’re ready for a summer bike tour? You might not be. Long summer cycling requires a different set of skills and gear than short spring jaunts or winter commutes. And even if you’ve done it before, your body might not be ready to go all out again.
Don’t worry, sixthreezero is here to help. Here is a bike tour packing list and checklist to help you prepare for long summer rides under the sun:
If your bicycle has been in the garage all winter, it’s time for a tune-up before you can consider a long summer bike tour. Check the tires, pump them back up to a minimum of 80psi and patch any cracks or punctures. You may want to replace the tires altogether if you’re going on many long-haul trips this summer.
You should also clean the chain with oil and make sure the tire spokes are not bent. Try the brakes and make sure the pads are not crumbling or thin. You don’t want your chain or brakes to fail you when you’re half-way through a day-long ride.
Make sure your long-distance cycling gear pack includes some supplies for the unexpected. Can you fix a flat or tighten your chain in a bind (or in the middle of a dirt trail)? Some things to pack on a long summer ride include a self-healing tire tube, patch kit, tire lever, wrench, and air pump.
To keep yourself safe in the event of a spill, you should also pack supplies for cleaning and bandaging wounds and sprains. You can also bring a cold pack that activates when you wet and snap it – this will come in handy if you start to overheat to a dangerous degree.
Haven’t been cycling since last September? It’s not the time to set a personal best. Take a few short to mid-length rides before you embark on a long tour. Even if you’re an expert cyclist, remember that your body may need to ease back into long-haul rides. It could take a few weeks before you can handle an epic long-distance ride across a national park or even a day-long trip around your city. Make a plan for getting your body back into shape for long summer rides.
Your bike frame is bright blue and you’re traveling at a fast speed – how could someone miss you coming down the trail? You might be surprised. If your long ride takes you along the side of vast highway straightaways, it’s all too easy for a driver to be so focused on the horizon they’re not even checking the side of the road for you.
Wear bright orange or red clothes to make yourself more visible no matter where you ride. Neon also works. While you’re at it, consider adding a few new reflectors to the side of your bike so that you can increase your visibility. Some states may also require lights on the front and rear of your bike.
You might be surprised at how quickly you can become dehydrated. In fact, most people wake up dehydrated so you’re starting from a deficit every day. How do you know if you’re dehydrated while you’re riding? It can manifest in dizziness, a pounding headache, a spiking heart rate, and really dark pee when you stop for a bathroom break.
Riding while dehydrated could leave you physically unable to continue and make you feel confused. For a long summer ride, make sure you have about 20 oz of water for every hour that you ride. This breaks down to about three big gulps every 20 minutes. A refillable water bottle may be great if you know you’ll have access to water fountains, but bring a few filled bottles in your saddlebag just in case.
Protein, carbohydrates, and sugar are all essential to keep your body going when you’re on an extended summer cycle trip. Assume you could get lost or the place you planned to stop for lunch will be closed. Pack protein bars, dried fruit, chocolate, and other high carb and sugar foods that will help your muscles recover and allow you to persist through fatigue.
Some of the best long-distance biking gear is surprising. Take Bag Balm. This product was originally created to soothe the udders of cows (and it’s still used for that), but it also does wonders for healing irritated human skin. Riding in the summer means you will be sweatier, hotter, and more likely to ride in shorts. All of these factors can increase your chances of chafing. Pack something like Bag Balm so that you don’t end up riding with painful skin irritation after a few hours.
Riding in the summer means being more susceptible to sunburn or other sun damage. Are you packing enough sunscreen? The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying sunscreen 30 minutes before you head out for sun exposure. You should also reapply every two hours or so. Because sunscreen can lose its effectiveness if you sweat a lot, you might want to switch to a “sport” sunscreen or reapply more often.
If you’re worried about sunscreen running into your eyes, a better solution is to wear a bandana or headband instead of forgoing sunscreen on your forehead.
Having the right cycling tour and bike camping gear can make or break your experience. Don’t think you have everything you need? Check out the sixthreezero bike accessories. We have everything from water bottles and water bottle cages to keep you hydrated to anti-slip grips that are great for sweaty palms. Questions? Reach out and let us help you pick the best gear for your summer road trip.Need some inspiration for where to take your bike this summer? Join our Journey Club to uncover biking locations around the world and connect with other cyclists.