by Omar Gatti

Traveling by bicycle has been one of the most beautiful, intense and fun experiences I have had in my life. Unfortunately, I, too, have made errors in judgment when organizing my bike trips. If you want to plan a bike trip, here are 5 useful tips for you.

#1: Check the weather

In May 2019, I crossed Sardinia by mtb. As a Lombard used to “northern climates,” I was convinced that May, in Sardinia, was now a warm month. That’s why I only loaded the bike with a summer uniform, a sleeveless jacket, and a sweater for the evening. Unfortunately, that week Sardinia was hit by a blast of arctic frost that even brought snow. As my companion and I pedaled up the climb leading over Gennargentu, the snow and icy wind made us completely lose feeling in our hands and feet. The first advice I give you is to properly check the weather, because surprises are always around the corner.

Traveling by bicycle: check the weather
Traveling by bicycle: check the weather

#2: Pedal a trail that suits you

A bike ride is a joyful and cheerful experience, but it is still a physical activity of aerobic endurance protracted for days, which puts a strain on the body. You have to choose travel and trails that are appropriate for your fitness level, without overdoing it. In 2018 I walked the Portuguese Camino de Santiago: 650 km in 5 days. Unfortunately, the stages were too long for my physical condition, and I began to develop knee pain that turned into severe tendon inflammation, so much so that I had to pedal with an ice pack. Keep some “leeway” and choose a track that is appropriate to your actual abilities. Overdoing it does not increase the fun, far from it.

#3: Choose the right company

In 2015 I walked the Via Degli Dei from Bologna to Florence. We were a small group of 3 friends on mtb. Unfortunately, one of us was not physically prepared to deal with the elevation gain and commitment (especially mental) of pedaling for hours in the July sun. Shortly after the halfway point, he began to suffer “crush” symptoms: inability to continue, dehydration, negative attitude. Better to be honest with yourself and others: if you feel physically unfit, don’t join a group you deem more fit than you are. The risk of ruining everyone’s vacation (including yourself) is very high.

Traveling by bicycle: Group of cyclists along the Liri cycleway
Group of cyclists along the Liri River

#4: Evaluate supplies well

My first bike trip was in Sardinia, solo, along the western Sardinian. Inexperience played a bad trick, because I had miscalculated the distances. In Sardinia, villages are many kilometers apart. I arrived in Piscinas (Southwest area) without money or food. I stopped at the only bar that was open and asked where a bank was. The manager replied, “In Arbus,” meaning 17 km away, all uphill. Fortunately, the manager was kind enough to offer me a sandwich and a coke, otherwise I would have had to go on without supplies. Here, making a list of what you need to bring in terms of food, how many water bottles you need and how often to stop to refuel is critical.

Traveling by bicycle: Supplies
Supply

#5: Check the tracks well

On a gravel trail in the Brescia area, my companion and I came across a trail that was completely covered and interrupted by downed trees. The previous week, Italy had been hit by tremendous winds that caused entire forests to collapse. The 15-kilometer trail ran along a path that ran through a forest, but it had been nearly razed to the ground by the wind. Every 5 meters we had to stop and try to pass between branches, over logs, maybe passing each other’s bikes. It took us almost 3 hours to get out of it, a very long time (almost equivalent to having walked through it). This happened because we had not checked the track, to see if the route was actually rideable. If you download a track from the Internet and are unsure of its rideability, check the various parts thoroughly to avoid unpleasant surprises. At best the risk is to lengthen the route, at others to have to detour onto busy and dangerous roads.

If you want to prepare for your next trip and be ready, with proper fitness, remember that
Bikeitalia
provides the
training services
and of
biomechanical examination
, which will enable you to ride pain-free and maximize your enjoyment.