It's that time of year again. Months of planning over where to go, where to stay and how to entertain the family for those long summer holiday weeks... and before you know it, school's out and what seems like the entire country decamps to picturesque parts of the country (and abroad) with the hope of improved weather and the aim of recharging those weary batteries through precious bonding time.
Whilst the reality can be very different (there's really no telling what the UK weather will do, or how long you'll be stuck on the M5/A30!) the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with family and friends is cherished by many as a natural hiatus in the flurry of months until Christmas (sorry!) arrives.
But how can you achieve that pinnacle of balancing acts when it comes to family holidays and cycling? Well wonder no more. We've got our top 5 tips for you to ensure you can get the most from your holidays without having to compromise your need to get out in the saddle.
Granted, cycling as a family will be a very different affair to whistling down country lanes in solitude, Wind in the Willows style. However, introducing your loved ones to cycling can have wider benefits - inspiring confidence and satisfying curiosities being two of the more obvious.
1. Plan your routes in advance. Holidaying in a new part of the country is always exciting, but far less so if you're hopelessly lost and hungry enough to eat a scabby horse! Sustrans have a great website detailling the vast cycle routes around the UK, and similarly an OS map of the area will give you everything you need to make sure you make it home without the need of a search party.
2. Be realistic about route lengths. You might be a regular at the 100 mile sportive, but chances are the rest of your party won't be! With a view to keeping the experience an enjoyable one, be conscious of the abilities of those going with you, the profile of the routes and what's likely to be a manageable distance for all involved.
Photo courtesy of: www.tunedintocycling.com
3. Take plenty of food and drink. I personally love plotting the contents of my food basket for my next day's ride. Simple items such as flapjacks, jelly babies, and water are great, but if you're heading out for slightly longer or with less experienced riders, you may also want to include sandwiches, fruit and some chocolate to help things along. Unless weight is crucial, it's better to have too much than not enough... nobody likes a hangry cyclist!
4. Pick an enticing destination. Having somewhere everyone wants to go to as the purpose of the ride works wonders for motivation! As an aside, you might want to check there are appropriate places to lock your bikes up. And don't forget the locks!
5. Layering is key. The importance of clothing layers is a well trodden path. Quite simply, you need to be prepared for a multitude of temperatures and weather conditions (this is the UK after all!). Cold, wet cyclists don't make for especially good companions on any ride, and the same can be said for hot, sweaty cyclists to some extent! Make sure you and your group have at least a minimum of a windproof/waterproof layer as well as a cycling jersey with pockets, but also factor in things such as gloves to prevent blisters and shorts with decent chamois pads to make the ride as enjoyable as possible! If you're going out for that bit longer or over a number of days, you might also want to consider Chamois Cream.
With a view to minimising your packing requirements for holidays, you should be able to double up on some garments and broaden their use beyond the bike. We have a fantastic range of multi-functional clothing, suitable for a plethora of adventures!
And last, don't forget to enjoy yourselves! Whilst you might not be able to do your usual 50km whizz round the block before breakfast (who does that?!), introducing cycling into your wider family circle will reep broader benefits for all concerned. You never know, you might have the next Bradley Wiggins in your midst!
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