Cycling is nice and fun. It is good for health, for the spirit and good for the environment. Knock off for a few days, moving away from the frenetic life of the city, from the traffic and from stress of everyday life, as well as necessary, is becoming more frequent in Italy and Puglia. And we of Puglia Cycle Tours are happy about it!
Today, however, we’re facing a different topic, extremely important, and closely related to the success of any cycle holydays: safety on the bike.
We believe that cycling with safety and awareness, knowing the code of the road and having a minimum of preparation, practical and theoretical, on how to prevent or react to the inconveniences that may occur during the journey, is of fundamental importance to prevent that even the ‘most unforeseen accident, ruin the entire holiday.
So here’s 4 tips to deal with a safe bike trip, valid in all circumstances and useful to all cyclists, both experts and beginners.
1) Highway code: the best travel companion
Any person will tell you that the first rule for safe travel by bike, as with any other means of transport, is to know and respect the highway code.
Although laws may change from country to country, there are some rules considered “universally valid“. Among the most important we find:
– Always travel on the right side of the road. But be careful! This does not mean that you have to close the edge or the sidewalk. It is recommended, in fact, to always leave a little ‘space to turn right in case of unforeseen or overtaking too risky.
– Pedaling in single file when you are in a group.
– Always give priority to pedestrians and to the right (unless otherwise indicated)
– Respect the signs and follow the cycle paths if present
– Wear reflective jackets and prepare the bike with the accessories reflectors and mandatory lights
– Wear an helmet. It is not mandatory but it is strongly recommended
And last but not least the roundabouts. How do cyclists cope with roundabouts? Instinct often leads the cyclist to stay in the outermost part of the roundabout. Nothing more wrong! Or rather, it only makes sense if you want to take the first exit. In all other cases the cyclist should move to the innermost part of the round by signalling with a gesture of the arm and with the correct advance, the exit he wants to take.
2) Do not underestimate the Weather
Despite the improvisation and the changes in the route are among the most fun and stimulating features of cycling tourism, having a knowledge of the territory and the temperatures that you will meet greatly assures the safety of your trip by bike and avoids unpleasant surprises.
It is always good to have GPS and leave a relative or friend to the route you are about to face. This applies to everyone and especially for those who decide to travel alone.
Who wants to ride a bike in summer must pay attention to the heat and the sun. Repairing with a high protection sunscreen is always a good idea (applying it repeatedly, because sweat tends to remove it), as is wearing good quality sunglasses. To avoid the danger of insolation, it is good to have a headgear and a protective helmet in order to combine safety and health. Needless to say, finally, that drinking lots of water or mineral supplements helps to prevent any problems related to tiredness and dehydration. A liter of water per hour, at regular and close intervals, is the recommended dose, although for some it may be difficult to follow
For those traveling in winter and at low temperatures, we recommend wearing layered clothing with waterproof and windproof clothing. You should always carry some spare jerseys to avoid riding on wet clothes and change them as soon as possible. It is also important to pay particular attention to the extremities of the limbs (more subject to cooling) by covering them with gloves and suitable stockings. Drinking lots of water, even if less instinctive than the summer, is still essential.
3) A bit of training and a rich diet
It is necessary to dispel a myth: cycling is an experience of “active holiday” for everyone, experts and non-experts, young and old. Having a minimum of training and preparation certainly does not hurt (especially if you want to deal with long routes) but you do not need to be a professional athlete to enjoy the pleasures of a bike tour.
Anyone who wants to prepare for a trip by bike can start with short trips of about ten kilometers, on a weekly basis, along routes not too difficult, and increase the distances and difficulty from time to time. A bit like any other type of training, the important thing is to start slowly, increase gradually and not strain your body beyond the limit. The results will not be long in coming.
As far as food is concerned, cycle tourism doesn’t include any particular diet or specific precautions. Cycling you consume a lot of energy that you will have to give back to your body by eating with “generosity and abundance”. A rich and varied diet is exhaustive in itself, but if we want to assign a record, this would go to carbohydrates.
During a ride the carbohydrates become sugars which in turn become energy for the body. Pasta, bread, rice (complex carbohydrates) are perfect before and after the trip; while the simple carbohydrates (fructose, sucrose etc.) are ideal for overcoming the hunger crisis .
4) Know where “to put your hands”
Having a minimal smattering of first aid and bike mechanics can help overcome the small inconveniences that may occur during a trip.
Knowing “where to get your hands” in case of a puncture of a tire, a chain failure or a broken spoke, can be used to temporarily buffer the unexpected and continue to the nearest repair point without having to request immediate assistance.
The same applies to the slight injuries that may occur during the trip. Most often they are insect bites, foreign bodies in the eye or minor cuts. Carrying a first aid kit in a suitcase with patches, disinfectant, eye drops, scissors and gauze is always a good habit, remembering to wash your hands thoroughly before any self-medication operation.
In the case of a more serious accident, the best thing to do is to immediately call 118 and avoid taking spontaneous initiatives if you do not have the skills to do so.
These are just small tips that will allow you to travel with more security and awareness. Many other precautions you will learn only with direct experience.
In any case, you can always contact us! We are a Bike Tour Operator specializing in the creation of bike tours in Puglia and we guarantee a complete assistance on every aspect of the tour: from bike repair to health insurance, choosing carefully the most beautiful and safe itineraries of Puglia, to do so that your Puglia Cycle Tour is also a Puglia Sicure Tour.