Essential Tips For Your Multi-Day Cycling Holiday

Setting off on a multi-day cycling holiday can sometimes seem like a daunting undertaking, and as the big day approaches you might be starting to wonder if you are really up to the challenge.

Fortunately, if you’ve booked to accompany Wild Atlantic Cycling on one of our itinerary of incredible tours, you’ve already made the perfect first choice. We have designed every trip to be accessible to cyclists with a range of experience. Additionally every tour you come on will be that perfect fit as we design the experience for two styles of riders - Active and Avid.  Find out more about Active and Avid cyclists here (new window). What’s more, as each one is fully supported, we take on the lion’s share of the planning and logistics for you, freeing you up to simply make the most of the riding experience.

However, as with everything, the more you put in the more you will ultimately get out and there are some steps you can take on the leadup to the off which will definitely help maximise your enjoyment. 

From packing the most appropriate gear to ensuring your bike (and you) are in perfect working order, below we have laid out our top tips to make sure your holiday with us is one to remember.

It Pays to Plan Ahead

Every one of our cycle tours—whether its cycling the entire length of Ireland or Portugal, coast-to-coast across the Pyrenees in Spain or exploring the Balkans from Croatia to Turkey—comes with its own unique set of obstacles and rewards.

The trick is to be as prepared as you can be for what lies ahead and to plan accordingly. 

When you book with Wild Atlantic Cycling Tours, we make sure to send you the GPX files of the route so you’re able study the kinds of terrain you’ll be facing day-by-day. You can also upload the maps to your bike computer. 

Perhaps the most important aspect to be aware of is elevation gain and the kinds of stresses it can place on you. Our 8-day trip over the Pyrenees, for example, with its 1,900m average daily climb, will be slower and harder going than our 13-dayer Mizen Head to Malin Head tour with its 725m average. Taking all that into account lets you know what’s in store and can inform just how much training you need to do, the type of nutrition to bring and what clothing to pack.

With that in mind, we would recommend aiming for one of our Active tours cycling holidays if this is your first multiday vacation. We all like a challenge, but not one that’s going to leave you exhausted every evening. Have a look at our Active cycling tours here and you can delve into our Avid cycling tours here

Pack Light, Pack Right

One of the very best things about opting for a fully supported trip is the amount of gear you don’t need to bring. And, of course, most of what you do bring is carried for you in our support vehicle.

That being said, it is still very important you pack the right kit for the tour you’ve chosen. 

Central to that decision will be the weather—you’re going to want a different setup if you’re circling Scotland’s North Coast than if you’re riding through Portugal, for instance. Riding in conditions you are not kitted up for is not only a fairly miserable experience, it can be somewhat hazardous too.

It always pays to study up on the forecasts for the area you’ll be in ahead of time to sidestep any surprises. You will then have a good idea of the right stuff to bring.

Put together a packing list so you don’t inadvertently forget anything essential and, if you’re a novice, have someone with more experience take a look at it for suggestions. 

The clothing you opt for most certainly does not have to be the absolute top-of-the-line, mega-expensive kind. It should, however, be well-fitted. Tight lycra shorts or leggings cut down on wind resistance and they help prevent some painful chafing during those long days in the saddle as well. (On that note, Vaseline is your friend and needs to find its way into your bags too!)

A few other items that will help you enjoy your time on the bike more which might not immediately spring to mind; 

A good pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from both the glare of sunlight and the influx of bugs as you race downhill.

Also, a sunhat to wear underneath your helmet is a good idea in the summer. And don’t forget to pack a few decent non-bike clothes for the end-of-the-day hang.

You and Your Bike

It should go without saying, but we will anyway, that you need to be physically comfortable on your bike for some long hours to get the most out of a multiday cycling trip.

You should make sure your saddle and handlebars are the correct height, style and angle for you so that your weight is evenly distributed between your body’s contact point—your hands and your butt, basically—and without straining your upper or lower limbs.

If you have any concerns over your comfort levels, consider going for a specialist bike fitting where a qualified expert will cover each aspect of your ride to ensure everything is where it should be. This is one of those times when a little outlay up front can pay huge dividends.

Once you feel all set, it’s a great idea to take your bike and any kit you’re bringing with you out for an extended test run. Clock up some decent miles, ideally in an environment as close to what you’ll be experiencing on your tour, to check just how well you and your machine hold up. If there are any problems, much better to know now than on day one of your hard-earned vacation. 

Get the Nutrition Right

If you take a look through some of our previous blog posts, you’ll see we’ve covered the key subject of what to eat and drink while on tour pretty comprehensively already. 

Just to quickly reiterate, getting it right can be the difference between having a great experience and a completely lousy one, so it is certainly something to spend a little time on. 

Obviously you’ll be getting through some calories and so keeping your energy levels up is essential. Always ensure you eat a good-sized breakfast each morning with plenty of carbs; think porridge, cereal and bagels. 

During the ride, you will want to eat little and often. Again, heavy on the carbs with, ideally, about 20 grams every half an hour. Fortunately, we provide fruit and bars for our riders so much of that is taken care of for you, but it doesn’t hurt to bring the odd energy gel with you in addition.

At the end of the day, you’ll want to load up on the slow-burn, high GI carbs as much as possible to get some glycogen into your muscles and prepare for the next day. Sweet potato and wholegrain rice work well, along with plenty of fruit and veggies.

Even more important than what you eat is to see to it you drink enough liquids. Particularly in hot countries, you will lose a huge amount of fluid through sweat and you don’t have to lose as much as you might think before it becomes a potentially serious issue. Again, we bring plenty of water in our support vehicle for everyone, but you can carry electrolyte sports drinks along with you to top up your calcium and potassium levels along the way. A few salty snacks will help too.

In the evenings, try and eat as soon possible after getting off your bike. Your body will want to recover and the first half an hour after the finish is when it is at its most efficient in replenishing glycogen stores. Plenty more carbs and a good helping of protein will look after the muscles.

That is some of our best advice for getting the absolute most out of a multiday cycling tour. But remember, if you’ve booked with us here at Wild Atlantic Cycling and you have any specific questions we haven’t covered, don’t hesitate to get in touch using the contact form on the website