Category Archives: Lifestyle

Skedaddle Twaddle about Lifestyle

Ride, Rinse, Repeat – how to keep your kit clean during multi-day cycling trips

In the third instalment of our Hannah Reynold’s serieswe look at the age old dilemma of trying to keep your kit clean whilst traveling by bike. Read for squeaky-clean kit advice

Cycling every day of your holiday means washing a lot of cycling shorts. Here are our tips for getting the job done quickly so there is more time to relax and explore.

Wearing clean shorts every day of your trip is essential; not only will it help you to look and smell good it is the most important step in avoiding the dreaded saddle sores! Few of us can carry enough shorts to last a whole trip so washing them is inevitable but it needn’t be a chore.

Shower or sink
A super quick technique is to jump in your shower still wearing your kit. Lather up some soap and rub it over the outside of your kit before stripping it off and lathering the inside paying particular attention to the pad inside your shorts. Wash yourself and let the soap you have used rinse through your garments and then give them an extra good rinse with the shower head. Gently wring out the water and stick them in the sink to drain.

I have been doing this for years and even the experts agree with me that it works! Simona Febbi – R&D Textiles Officer at Assos, makers of very fine and very expensive kit, told me “using what you have available is better than leaving your shorts sweaty, even entering the shower with your garments on and rinsing them is a good compromise. Ordinary bar soap is ok to use. Kit can also be washed by hand, if a label says wash as 30 degrees this can be done by hand. Our body is 35.5 degrees so we need to use water that feels cold, if it feels warm to your hand it is already more than 30 degrees.”

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Washing liquid or plain soap
The product you use to wash your best cycling kit needs to be very mild otherwise it can damage technical materials. Your Lycra will become baggy, its colour will fade and any technical coatings will be removed. You should never use fabric conditioner as this destroys the breathability and wicking properties.

Plain bar soap, conveniently provided by most hotels, will do the job absolutely fine and is much better for your kit than cheap biological detergents. However if you are really protective of your expensive cycling outfits then specialist wash such as Halo Sports Wash, Assos Active Wear Cleanser or Odo Revive will look after the technical fabrics as well as being anti-bacterial to ensure that no bad smells follow you around on your next ride.

Drying your kit
When packing for a trip the best plan is a minimum of two pairs of shorts so you can alternate them just in case they don’t fully dry out overnight. Lycra dries fast but you can help it along by squeezing out most of the water before hanging them up, however to keep your kit in good condition you should avoid wringing or twisting fabrics.

My favourite technique is to lay out the bath towel on the floor, after you have dried yourself, then arrange all your kit on it. Roll the towel up and then walk up and down on it so you are pressing the water out of your clothes into the towel. Think of it like treading grapes!

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Drying Lycra is easy in a hot country but do consider your neighbours and the hotel owner. There is a belief that drying your shorts chamois pad outwards in direct sunshine can help to kill bacteria but be sensitive about where you hang up your undergarments! We were once asked to make sure that everyone in the hotel dried their kit out of sight and that shorts were turned inward so no offensive chamois pads were on display!

Eager to put these top tips to the test? Check out our holiday range to inspire your next cycling adventure.

How to get fit for your cycling holiday

Here’s our second instalment of a series of handy two-wheeled tips written by cycling journalist Hannah Reynolds. This week she talks about physically preparing your body for multiple days in the saddle…

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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.

Distance
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.

Comfort
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.

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Hills
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.

Health
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.

TOP 5 SKEDADDLE TIPS:
– 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.

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Bike maintenance tips from our expert

We’re always eager to help you make the most of your holidays, so, if your trusty steed hasn’t seen the light of day for a few months now, fear not! We have caught up with our chief guide, Steve Woods, to find out his top tips for getting your bike pedal-ready:

Clean your bike
Advice: Cleaning your bike is a very important start to the season and helps you get to know your bike again. It will help spot any problems that have built up over winter.
Top tip: Cut off the top of a plastic water bottle. Fill it with a water-based degreaser, like Green oil bike cleaner, and place it in your seat-tube bottle cage (for easy access). Use a paintbrush to apply the degreaser to the chain. Finish by holding a soapy sponge around the chain and turning the cranks. Hose off the excess and let it dry.

Checking the tyres
Advice: Tyres bear the brunt of the action when cycling so it’s essential to keep them well maintained.
Top tip: First deflate the tyre and nip the side walls together with your fingers; this will help to see perishing, which is a typical first sign of wear on a tyre’s sidewall. Ultraviolet rays in sunlight and the chemicals in cleaning products are just two factors that can cause the sidewall to degrade. Don’t forget to reinflate to the correct tyre pressure, which can be found on the side walls.

Check for debris 
Advice: Most punctures are caused by debris – thorn, glass, flint – and if you don’t find and remove this object, it will pierce a tube.
Top tip: Complete a visual check of your tyres after the winter season and before every ride, looking for small slashes that may allow a small stone or a piece of glass to work through the carcass of the tyre to the inner tube. The offending items can be removed by any pointed object, but take care to ensure you do not cause further damage to the tyre.

Take care of the chain
Advice:  The chain is one of the most important parts of a bicycle, but it’s often overlooked.
Top tip: Too much lube will attract dirt and grime, which wears out your drivetrain. A good test is to wipe your finger on your chain. It should come away with just a small amount of oil.

Take care of that frame
Advice: 
Keeping your frame in tip-top shape doesn’t require a ton of work, but likely a little more than you think.
Top tip: Every third or fourth wash, give your frame and fork a layer of car wax. I like Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax. It restores the paint’s luster and keeps road tar, bugs, and muck from sticking.

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Some final wise words from our chieftain…
Ride new roads once in a while, bust out a map and go explore! The variety will help you stay engaged and may lead to some exciting new discoveries. And take your mind off those “cheeky climbs”.

Remember, the pro-cyclists you saw swooping around France in July didn’t always have those wiry calves and ninja-like reflexes. At some point, they all had to learn how to train smart and even how to shift gears. While only a select few of you will ever take in the view from a top podium, we can all rejoice in the fact that no cycling skill is impossible to master. So just start steady and enjoy your cycling.

Keen to join us on two wheels this year? Click here for our full range of exciting cycling holidays.