Road cycling has a particular fascination. What is different from other types of cycling? Nowhere is the thrill of speed greater than on a road bike cycling down a pass. A speed of 80 to 90 km/h is easily reached. Everything appears smooth, road bikes are delicate, designed for elegance and high speed. We fly on silky tyres, over hot roads. The goal is to harmonise body, bike and mind. Challenge, but not excessive demand. If we sweep along with harmonious round cadence, we can feel the flow and we become one with the landscape.
The most intense experience, as reported by many cyclists, is riding over a mountain pass. When riding over a mountain, life passes by in slow motion, we smell, taste and feel nature more intensely than we do on an ordinary bicycle. Body and mind become more sensitive at high performance and absorb every tiny perception, a beetle crawling across the road, a dancing butterfly to the trees swaying in the wind.
This kind of experience is enhanced even more by the feeling of adventure and discovery when travelling through unfamiliar areas.
However, this apparent ease of riding is (also) based on training. Strength, stamina, body control and will power are closely interconnected in road cycling and bicycle racing. The proper equipment, preparation, training, slowly approaching and perceiving your own capabilities are critical to road cycling tours in order to guarantee fun and satisfaction.
Road cycling can be enjoyed alone or in a group.
Apart from the fact that slip-streaming saves energy, cycling in a peloton leads to enhanced motivation for every participant. We learn how to build team spirit and each group member gets encouraged. Climbing mountain passes together, taking a break in the group, waiting for a fellow cyclist, being proud of ourselves after an exhausting tour. There are so many things that make road cycling in a group special.
How else can you experience the group feeling if you do not want to join a cycling club?
In recent years, more and more independent road cycling meetings have been organised. Racing cyclists, hobby cyclists or cyclists not member of a club meet here on a non-compulsary basis. You profit from benefits similar to those of a club: You can learn from each other, exchange ideas and opinions and you might also train in bad weather conditions where you would have stayed at home on your own.
It is important to practise cycling in a group. Participants should learn some techniques (hand signals, spacing) to not put the cycling partners and other road users at risk. Cycling in a peloton requires special attention and care.
And during the holidays?
Only few families can form a road cycling team. This is one of the main reasons for booking organised cycling holidays. The operators not only organise the activity but also the cycling partners. Ideally a bunch of individuals form a team! Road cycling holidays range from the classic spring training camp in Southern Italy, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, Southern France, Provence, Mallorca, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria to exclusive cycling tours in South Africa (Garden Route), Thailand, Australia, New Zealand or in the USA.
No matter what you choose, individual or organised road bike holidays, your road bike must be road-worthy. The bicycle must be serviced regularly by a professional dealer; special attention must be paid to brakes, lights and tyres. Repair kit and dressing material, a spare tube and a bicycle pump are usually enough, as most cycling accommodation provides the necessary tools for cyclists today.
Packing a bicycle for a solo cycling tour is a special challenge: not all cyclists want to hang panniers on their bicycles. You can either make do with a small 30 liter backpack or a saddle-based carrier. For tours lasting several days or longer a lowered uni-cycle trailer is recommended. These can carry a payload of up to 30 kg and due to their low centre of gravity stay stable on track. If you want to transport an expensive road bike on a plane or in a bus, there are different bicycle transport bags available that provide protection, even hard cases.
Road cyclists should pay attention to their nutrition as a result of the higher speed and longer distances covered. At a moderately fast speed, the body burns an average of 500-600 calories per hour. In addition to drinking two to three litres of fluid, it is important to eat easily digestible food. The acclaimed fat burning only kicks in if well trained and even then it only starts late and at high perfomance.
We wish all Lance Armstrongs and Eddy Mercks out there a lot of fun cycling!