Health & Medical

Wheely good bike tour holiday tips

Reading time: 3 minutes

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Get on your bike

I’m just back from a 3-week trip to the US and some of the most fun days I spent were on two wheels.

Cycling is a fantastic way to discover a place – you can cover much more territory than on foot plus you can sneak down little side tracks and access a whole lot more than you can on four wheels. You’re more likely to stumble across a secret locals’ café if you’re travelling by bike and you won’t feel so bad indulging in local delicacies, like Leonard’s scrumptious malasadas in Honolulu, if you’re burning energy along the way. Another advantage? You don’t have to worry about parking.

Hire a bike

A friend and I rented bikes in both Hawaii and Phoenix on our recent trip. I was pretty nervous about riding on the ‘wrong’ side of the road but once we got going, I felt pretty comfortable and generally safe. In both cities, there are cycle tracks on some of the main roads and in really busy streets, we detoured up onto the footpath to stay out of any perceived danger.

Bike sharing schemes have blossomed in some of the most-visited cities across the world – Paris, San Francisco, New York, London and Bareclona. For only a few dollars a day you can rent a bike and meander round. It beats taking the hot, crowded and often-unclean subway or local bus. You can stop anywhere and anytime you like.
If you’re not used to cycling on busy streets at home, don’t think you’ll be able to manoeuvre around the streets of Paris like Cadel Evans. You need to have your wits about you even if you stick to the bike lanes. At TID we see a reasonable number of claims for bicycle accidents – fractured ribs, hips, wrists and injured shoulders – as well as damage to personal belongings such as sunglasses.

So if you’re up for some pedal action, here are some tips to stay safe and comfortable.

Safety tips for cyclists

  • Always wear a helmet if there’s one available, even if it’s not compulsory in the country you’re visiting. If you do fall over, it’ll offer good protection.
  • Check the seat, tyres and brakes of any bike you rent. An uncomfortable bike seat, even for a day, can make you miserable.
  • Make sure you get a lock for the bike so you can go into a restaurant for a bite to eat or browse the shops. Don’t leave your bike unattended for too long though and make sure it’s in a secure place if you keep it overnight – ask the hotel for the safest place to store it.
  • If there’s a bike tour, take it, as they’ll show you around the city highlights and find the easiest, safest routes. Or, you can ask the bike hire place for the safest routes to take or for some good bike-friendly paths.
  • Follow the road rules and indicate where you’re going e.g. turning right or left – drivers don’t like to be surprised.
  • If you cycle at night make sure there’s a light on the front and rear of the bike.
  • Wear closed shoes, not thongs or sandles, to protect your feet.
  • And if you’re in a slightly colder climate, you’ll be grateful for a pair of gloves.

If you’re going for a longer trip e.g. cycling around Vietnam, the tour company will no doubt have plenty of bike tour travel tips but based on personal experience I would recommend:

  • Take your own helmet and bike seat (I’m not kidding – I took my nicely padded bike seat on a trip around China and I was so thankful).
  • Good padded bike pants and chamois cream are a must.
  • A simple bike computer, to let you know you far and fast you’re going, is also super helpful, especially if you’re given a basic map and distance to travel and have to find your own way.

Author

TID is an Australian online travel insurance company.

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