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How to get fit for your cycling holiday

Here’s our second installment of a series of handy two-wheeled tips written by cycling journalist Hannah Reynolds, offering advise on everything from nutrition to cycling technique.

Hannah has been guiding for Skedaddle for a good few years now and is one of the masterminds behind our popular St Malo to Nice journey. Alongside enjoying France’s best croissants on a regular basis (not jealous at all) she can be frequently found on our road cycling holidays across Europe. Having been the fitness editor at Cycling weekly for 15 years, she is also the author of three cycling books: France en Velo, Get on your Bike and Fitter, Faster, Further; so it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about the world of cycling. Now, let’s jump into this weeks topic, which is all about getting fit for your upcoming cycling holiday…


Getting fit for your cycling holiday will help you to make the most of the trip and have more fun!

Once you have booked your cycling holiday it’s time to think about preparing yourself for it. The fitter you are the more enjoyment you will get out of each day’s ride; you will have more energy in the evenings for sight-seeing and enjoying the local cuisine and you will recover better overnight ready for the next day.

Getting fitter doesn’t have to mean an arduous and serious training plan. For most cycling holidays specific training isn’t necessary however ensuring the daily distances are well within your capabilities will mean that you remain fresh enough to enjoy the stunning scenery and interesting culture around you. The first step is as simple as spending a bit more time on your bike.

Find out the typical distance you will be expected to ride day to day on your trip. If this is not a distance you are already comfortable doing on a regular basis, then it’s time to build up your mileage. Try adding as little as 10% to the distance of your longest ride once a week so that over 6-8 weeks you can cover the full distance. You don’t have to be able to ride it all in one go as on a trip there will be regular stops and of course the infamous Skedaddle picnic.

Day to Day riding
When you are on a cycling holiday the challenge is riding comfortably day after day. Once you are used to the daily distances it is worth getting in some practice doing back to back rides. One easy way to incorporate this into your week is to cycle to work. The distances don’t have to be the same as you will do on the tour but it will help your body, brain and bottom to get used to sitting on a saddle and pedalling several days in a row. If you are short on time you will improve your fitness more with several regular short rides a week instead of just one long one.

We’ve already mentioned your bottom, saddle discomfort is no joke, making sure you have decent padded cycling shorts and your bike is correctly fitted should prevent any pains in this area. Regular riding will help you to get used to your position on the bike and strengthen your muscles, particularly those of your torso, neck and shoulders which can start to ache after a long day’s ride if you are not used to your cycling position. Learning some stretches for cyclists can also help during your preparation and whilst on your holiday.


There are few cycling trips where you can avoid hills altogether (and for those who seek pancake flat riding, we recommend you check out our Holland trips) but climbs are not to be feared, the stronger you are the more you can enjoy them. Believe it or not, some cyclists even deliberately seek out the toughest climbs on our mountain challenges. You can prepare yourself for hills even if you live somewhere completely flat, the key is to pedal continuously at an effort level that leaves you feeling slightly out of breath. If someone asked you a question you would only be able to answer with one or two words at a time. To accustom your legs to the strain of pushing up a gradient use a harder gear and a slower cadence of around 60 rpm, so you do one complete revolution of the pedals per second.

Slowly building up your cycling fitness with regular rides before your trip is much better than jumping in at the deep end with a full week of riding if you are not used to it. It also gives you a chance to find out what foods and drinks you enjoy whilst you are cycling to fuel your ride. Don’t forget, it’s important that you learn to drink plenty of fluids while on your bike, particularly if your trip is in a hot climate.

– Build up the distance of your long ride by no more than 10% per week.
– Short rides done regularly is better for your fitness than the occasional really long ride.
– Ride back to back days to get used to life on tour.
– Learn some stretching and strengthening exercises.
– Practice riding for 5-20 minutes at an effort level where you are slightly out of breath.


Staff Pick: Biking in Burma

Forget the spiritual home of cycling (sorry, France!) and say hello to the spiritual land of Burma, a destination where temples greet you at every turn. Having packed our head honcho, Andrew Straw, off to explore by bike last year, here are a few of his unexpected discoveries en route

1. The legend behind the impressive Pindaya caves
With 8,000 Buddha statues stashed within its limestone walls, jumping off your saddle at Pindaya is a must! Locals claim this is named after a monster spider attempted to trap seven princesses within. A prince then shot dead the spider claiming “pingu-ya” (the spider is dead) and so the cave was aptly named.

2. Diamond mangos are the tastiest
A native fruit of South East Asia, this juicy treat has become a big part of culture in Burma. With over 100 varieties, you’ve many to try but my favourite has to be the diamond mangos, known locally as Sein Ta Lone, it’s a great refreshment post-ride.

3. I’ve heard of Blue Nun the dreadful 80’s white wine, but never pink nuns
300,000 Buddhist monks call Burma home and 20,000 of these are females dressed all in pink, rather than the classic orange robes that you may be more familiar with. These friendly souls are usually very happy to chat to travellers passing through!

by Andrew Straw
(Co-Founder & Cycling Adventure Product Manager)


Looking for an adventure elsewhere? 
For more cycling in South East Asia we recommend checking out our holiday in Laos, a journey which sees you cycling through bamboo forests and breathtaking karst scenery.

Seasonal cycling: Where to go when

Make the most of the seasons this year! Don’t miss our recommended guaranteed departures in Europe, where there is a stupendous season for every cyclist to enjoy…

Best for: Spring
We say: Riding alongside blooming wildflowers will be a common occurrence across Europe. Expect warm and pleasant conditions, but pack your mack, just incase.
Trip Recommendations: Ruta de la Plata (MTB),  Corsica Southern Secrets (Road) & Alnmouth (Leisure)

Best for: Summer
We say: The most popular season for a cycle ride has plenty to offer those eager to get away. A great time to experience lashings of vitamin D, as well as refreshing post-ride dips to cool off.
Trip Recommendations: La Via Claudia (Leisure), Lake District Bike Skills (Family) & Ruta del Vino (Road) 

Seasonal cycling in: Autumn
We say: Who said the cycling fun was over? Escape the summer crowds and experience late season sun on your bike when you choose to travel later in the year.
Trip Recommendations: Italy Grand Traverse (Road), Portugal Roman Trails (MTB) & Granada to Seville (Leisure)

Not fussed about when you travel? Be sure to check out our full range of up-to-date guaranteed departures this year, or choose by your perferred type of riding:

Leisure Cycling | Road Cycling | Mountain Biking | Family Cycling | Cycling Adventures