With Le Tour de France kicking of tomorrow we’ve asked celebrated cyclist Nicole Cooke to give her advice on cycling holidays, whether you’re an experienced rider or trialling it for the first time she has some top tips to help you. Having cycled around Mallorca and Cyprus, Nicole offers advice and guidance on cycling in the heat, as well as her own cycling holiday inspirations.
Nicole’s cycling inspiration
‘As an Olympic Gold Medallist, I am fanatical about cycling. My passion for the sport was inspired by my fond childhood memories of cycling on holiday. Some of my favourites include exploring the Devon countryside on a tandem with everything packed into the saddlebags, and the many holidays in the French Alps geared around doing as much riding as possible over the highest roads of Europe. Whether it is training for a race or just pootling around taking in the scenery on holiday, cycling plays a big part in my day-to-day life.’
If you are considering doing a spot of cycling on holiday here are some of Nicole’s top tips for cycling on holiday to help you on your way…
1. Location is key
‘It is great to have a base to ride out from each day so choosing a location that can offer a variety of routes in the surrounding area is ideal. Destinations like Mallorca and the Algarve have a combination of flat and mountainous terrain within fairly compact areas giving a range of routes for all abilities. I often took advantage of these warmer climates for my pre-season training camps during my racing career.’
2. Planning your routes
‘Try to plan your routes so that you know in advance where you are going and what terrain you are likely to encounter. This will enable you to tailor your ride to suit everyone’ abilities and make sure you don’t get lost on the way.
Whether it is packing a picnic or riding to a scenic destination with the family there are many options open to the beginner cyclist to enjoy the freedom and exploration that is unique to cycling. When devising a route it is worth considering more flat terrain and using designated bike paths, if they are available, as they will allow you to explore an area without needing to cycle on the roads.
If you party consists of more adventurous riders, try and find routes that provide more challenges and opportunities to achieve ambitious goals, such as climbing a famous mountain like Mount Teide in Tenerife, which summits at 2,300m. If you have a specific challenge or sportive on in the year, you could even create your own training camp with sunny weather conditions perfect for long rides.’
3. Renting a bike
‘If you decide to rent a bike, make sure the rental company spend time setting up your riding position so that you feel comfortable and confident.’
4. Keeping hydrated
‘Keeping yourself hydrated is a must when cycling, especially on a long mountain ride in the heat of the day. Always remember to take a bottle of water with you and be aware of the places along the cycling route where you can refill or buy another water bottle.’
5. Riding in groups
‘Riding in groups is a great idea when embarking on long rides. It enables you to share the pace setting and even provide that extra pair of hands to help in case you get a puncture.
If your group consists of a range of abilities, you may want to consider splitting into two. This will give everyone the chance to enjoy a ride that is more suitable to their cycling experience, and you can always aim to meet at a particular spot for lunch.’
6. Time for relaxation
‘Remember to enjoy a day or two off from cycling so you can relax by the pool, or on the beach, and recharge both physically and mentally as this will help you top get the most out of your holiday.’
Whatever your abilities or fitness level, cycling is a great way to spend time together with friends and family and can provide some fantastic adventures and great memories. The feeling of riding fast under your own power with the scenery zooming past, or that breath-taking view at the summit of a mountain are the moments that Nicole still remember from her own cycling holidays. We hope that you get to create your own amazing experience and memories from your very own cycling adventures this summer.
If you are interested in taking a cycling holiday, why not check out our ‘what kind of holiday cyclist are you?’ guides for more info – starting with ‘Cycling in the Algarve: Nature Lover’s Choice‘.