Recreational, touring and sport cycling

Recreational, touring and sport cycling

Getting started
Any old bike will do to get started. Dust the cobwebs off the old clunker under your house and have it reconditioned, or hire a bike for an hour or a day.

After several rides and getting to know your cycling needs, you might want to upgrade.

How far?
Don't push yourself too hard on your first day. Half an hour cycling and 8 km is a reasonable aim. You can slowly build up after that. Remember, the idea is to enjoy yourself.

Where to go
The most pleasant rides involve avoiding heavy traffic on major roads and heavy activity centres. Views, bushland, rivers or gardens are all factors to consider when planning a pleasant ride.

What to take
Remember to take plenty of drinking water, sunscreen, a map and your helmet.

Planning your route
Plan your route according to your personal interests. Search the web or talk to other cycle tourists who can give you tips about good places to visit. Some possible attractions might include historical sites, wildlife, forests, gemstones, swimming and fishing. Work out what is a comfortable distance for you to ride each day, and how hilly the route will be.

There are many books and guides for cycle tourists available at your local bike shop, or travel book shop.

Roads
Guidebooks and maps can help when planning which roads to take.

When selecting roads, major roads often have a good surface, a better grade and shoulder to ride on, but are often very busy. Quieter country roads can be hilly and rough, but are often more scenic.
Be careful when seeking local advice as it can be misleading. People tend to think from a motorist's point of view and not a cyclist's.

Maps
Maps of a scale of 1:100 000 or 1:250 000 will be better for cycle touring. Any regional maps showing topography will be useful. The more local roads are shown on the map, the better. A map with contours can give an indication of the steepness of roads by how much the roads curve. Straight roads are generally flat-curvy roads are generally hilly.

Weather
Check the weather on the Bureau of Meteorology, at: www.bom.gov.au for information. The Bureau of Meteorology website has useful information about wind, rainfall and temperature patterns for Wagga Wagga.

Independent tours
You can organise your own cycle tour with family or friends. Doing so gives the freedom to create a fantastic holiday. Solo touring gives even more freedom and can make it easier to meet people and chat at rest stops and accommodation places.

Fitness levels
Fitness helps but isn't everything. Pacing, on the other hand, is important. Find a pace you can keep up all day. Stop early and often. Take rest stops before you need them. Allow plenty of time to get to your destination. Take hills easily. Drink plenty of water and protect yourself from the sun. Don't push yourself too hard early in the trip. You will find your fitness increases during the tour. It is worthwhile to build up your fitness level in the weeks before the tour-try a couple of long rides of around 50 to 80 km.

Places to stay
There are many accommodation options for the cycle tourist. Where you choose to stay will determine what you will need to carry and how much the tour will cost. Camping is economical and convenient, although the equipment needed means you will have more weight to carry on the bike. Other places to stay include overnight vans or cabins in caravan parks, country pubs, backpackers, motels and B and B's (bed and breakfasts). It will be important to check the facilities provided, such as parking and security.

What to take
The standard advice for cycle touring is to 'make a list of everything you cannot do without, cut it back severely, then take half'.
You will need to take a few specific things on your tour. A typical list for a longer trip in most seasons (a shorter trip requires less) includes:

  • Clothing - thin pullover, middle-thickness pullover, cycling knicks x 2, cycling jersey x 2, cycling shoes, clothes to wear when off the bike, helmet, gloves, rainproof coat.
  • Tools - pump, tyre levers, chain lube, patch kit, spare tube (and tyre, depending on how far you are going), valve cover with attachment for removing valves, spare valve, double-length chain link pin, Allen Keys, 15 mm spanner (for pedals, especially if taking your bike by plane or bus), 8mm spanner (for other nuts and bolts), spoke tool, multi-tool (with knife, pliers, Phillips and standard screwdrivers), chain tool, any spare parts you may need from a bike shop, depending  on the distance you are going-also remember to give your bike a thorough service before you  go.
  •  Accessories - first aid kit, sun screen (small container), insect repellent, bike lock, maps and guides, water bottles.
  • Camping equipment (if required) - lightweight tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat, small cooking stove and fuel, cooking and eating utensils, spices and dried food (keep food to a minimum and buy fresh food when you stop to keep your load light).

Bicycle Clubs
Most cyclists who wish to improve their performance in bike racing join cycling clubs. Clubs provide training, access to accredited coaching advice and entry to races. Contact your local club directly or through your local bike shop.
The Australian Cycling Federation, at: www.cycling.org.au provides general advice on improving the performance of cyclists as well as information regarding the accreditation of cycling coaches.