25 March 2012

Travel Lists for Cyclists

Guess what I am doing - packing for an adventure

Time to pack! What to bring, what to bring? I have two big trips coming up this year, my first trip is to Belgium, Italy, and France. This fun journey is focused around being a fan at the Tour of Flanders and the Paris-Roubaix in April. It also includes a quick side trip to Florence, Italy, to visit my niece Kristina who is studying architecture for the year in Italy and Switzerland.

I had a romantic notion of traveling unencumbered to Europe as a simple fan, with a camera and one small bag. Concentrating on packing light but right for a mix of country mud and city cobbles, with no bicycle. That is right - no bike. This is the first trip in a long time when I will not be bringing a bike with me to Europe. Although I admit my small romantic bag grew in size when I was given the added task of exporting Belgian beer back to the United States for friends in Denver (FMVC). Oh well, beer is romantic - right?

My second adventure will be to France in July for the Tour de France. This will be the typical bike case, suitcase, backpack type of trip. I have a friend who claims he only brings one carry on bag on his bike trips to France. I was mighty impressed. I've never been able to pack that light for a cycling + hiking + city tourist adventure. Here I offer what I have learned about packing lists for cyclist travelers to help you decide what to bring on your next adventure. Bon voyage.

Travel Checklist for Cyclists : 1 CARRY-ON | 1 SUITCASE | 1 BIKE BOX
*Luggage Tags on all bags

CARRY ON rolling carry-on or backpack (in 3 parts)

CARRY-ON bag (main bag)
  • Cycling shoes
  • Bike pedals (I carry them on in case the bike case is lost in flight)
  • Sun Glasses – x2 pairs (cycling and casual)
  • Eye Glasses/contact lenses / Rx (eyes)
  • Medications / Rx (meds)
  • Camera /extra memory cards & extra battery
  • Travel Documents: Travel Book / Maps / Itinerary / Contact List / Directions
  • All battery chargers / cords / adapters
PURSE or moneybelt, secure inside CARRY-ON (keep inside carry on at all times or on your body)
  • Phone
  • Airline tickets
  • wallet
STUFF SACK stored inside CARRY-ON as you get on the plane, remove this bag for in-flight access near your feet and store the main bag up top in overhead storage.
  • Book/magazine, i/pad or reader
  • Laptop
  • water bottle (empty through security)
  • Food
  • ear plugs / eye mask
  • Tylenol / Meds / Chapstick
  • Mints / toothbrush / eyedrops
  • small tissue pack / travel wipes / liquid soap

SUITCASE with strap to attach rolling bike box

  • All personal sundries (toiletries)
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Light weight power strip (to charge all devices)
  • Alarm Clock/or phone
  • Plastic multiple hanger / clothesline (cord) and clothespins (for washing clothes)
  • Large plastic bags x2 (groceries)
  • Small plastic baggies for food storage (picnics and food while cycling)
  • Small flashlight/headlamp
  • Wine opener, beer opener
  • Extra napsacks (for later storage)
  • Photocopies of essential information: passport, credit card contact #s (hidden in suit case) (in case of theft of backpack/purse)
  • Locks/ lock keys for later storage (for storage at hotels and train stations)
  • small gifts for your hosts (optional)
  • Plane: pants, shirt, lightweight fleece or cashmere sweater, compression socks >
  • pants / capris / skirts / dresses / shorts (x3-5)
  • Shirts for hot and cold weather (layers) (x5-8)
  • Sweater or vest
  • Rain jacket
  • Jacket for cool nights (city) (get a nice one that can be used on or off the bike)
  • Shoes x2-3 pairs (lots of walking in mixed weather conditions), and sandals
  • Underwear, socks (x5-7), compression socks (for plane)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit (optional)
  • Jewelry – very simple
  • Hat for sun, and hat for warmth
  • Scarf / gloves (for cold weather)
*tips on packing clothes:

I pack by purpose, not everything needs to match, because I will not be wearing everything at the same time. I need a comfortable outfit for plane travel, 2-3 outfits to change into after riding or for being a tourist, 1 to hike in, 1-2 for dinner out, 1-2 city outfits (black is safe).  3 outfits should be adaptable to cold and 3 adaptable to hot weather, including warm rain. If you go for black in the cities, color in the countryside, you will fit in.

*tips on washing clothes:

Most of the time I am able to do laundry in the hotel at least every 3 days, so bring at least 3 days of cycling clothes. In the summertime cycling clothes will dry in 1 day (not always for the next morning), in spring and fall seasons, allow 2 days to dry, in winter 3 days. You can also find laundromats to wash and dry clothes quickly, located in cities or sometimes next to markets in France.I buy hand washing soap while on my travels, I do not bring heavy liquid from home.

*tips on TDF fan clothing:

In winter or cool months, a hat, scarf, gloves, and wool socks or running tights will keep you warm when standing outside for long periods. During the hot days of summer remember it gets cold on mountain tops, bring a rain jacket, cap, and knee warmers. Bring a very light pair of flip-flop sandals to carry with you for standing around at TDF stages, so you will not have to wear your cycling shoes for hours.

Cycling clothes
  • Helmet (I usually carry-on)
  • Cycling jerseys – x3
  • Cycling shorts – x3
  • Cycling socks – x4
  • Arm Warmers
  • Knee Warmers
  • Vest – x1
  • Cycling rain jacket – x1
  • Gloves ½ x2
  • Gloves – full x1 (winter if cold)
  • Skull cap (mtn top finishes)
  • bike shoes (carry on plane)
  • *check weather – for colder layers, shoe covers, tights, warm jacket, etc.
  • Road I.D. - order one for national and one for international riding
Cycling Supplies
  • Chamoix crème, embrocation
  • Replacement drinks (optional)
  • Road I.D., identification, money
  • Water proof bags to carry phone and small camera
  • bike lock (optional)
  • Bike pump (small pump on bike, large pump - buy or barrow at location)
  • Extra inner tubes
  • Allen wrench, tire lever, pedal wrench, bike lube, rag (as needed)
  • Extra cleats (optional, or change prior to departure)
  • New tires, or tires in very good condition
  • Bike geometry measurements (optional)
  • *complete bike check to be done before departure
  • Road chalk, flags, hats, etc. (optional for fans)
Tip: Even though I might train at home with bars, gels and pounds of before and post ride stuff - I find I don't use these while riding in France. Typically I want to eat real food. I do bring (or buy) replacement powder drink mix if I am riding hard five days of the week. Being well hydrated makes me feel better that evening and the next day.

  • ID tag on outside; also label inside case with name and address >
  • Bike (see link to packing instructions above)
  • 2 empty water bottles
  • Foam /foam tubes /rags /plastic zip ties for packing
  • *any tools used to disassemble the bike
  • *remove pedals and carry-on, or tape securely inside bike box
Seat Bag
  • tire levers
  • innertubes
  • tools
  • copy of ID/passport in seat bag
  • (*remove air cartridges, not allowed in any airplane luggage)
Supplies to buy at destination (if staying longer than 7 days)
  • Shampoo, soaps, or any heavy liquids (bring 1st night's supplies with you)
  • Baby wipes, small wash cloth (to rinse off immediately after riding)
  • Laundry soap (for hand-washing)
Optional supplies (for longer stays or camping/picnics)
  • Spoon, fork, knife, glasses (for picnics and drinks)
  • Cooler bag (day storage of food)
  • Floor pump (better tire pressure)
  • Sponge to clean bikes
  • 1-2 light cheap blankets to cover luggage/bikes while stored in car
  • Air cartridges for bike
*It is a safe idea to leave a full itinerary, contact information, medical and financial information at home with family member. Also give your family contact information to your travel companions.

Packing a bike case: Pedal Dancer: How to pack a bike box for Travel
Travel tips for cyclists: Pedal Dancer: Packing Tips for Cyclists
Dressing in layers (by temperature, for cyclists): Dressing for the Weather in Cycling