When you go on vacation, you might check to ensure you packed your contact lenses, prescription medications, bathing suit and sunscreen. Have you ever considered taking your bike? Doing so has multiple advantages.
You’ll experience far more of your destination via this mode of transportation, taking in the sights, smells and sounds and finding interesting little cafes and shops. You’ll also do your part to keep the planet greener.
However, you do need to take a few extra considerations. Here are five tips for taking your bike on vacation.
1. Transport It Safely to Your Destination (Without Damaging Your Car)
The trickiest part about taking your bike on vacation may be getting it to your destination. After all, it probably takes up considerable space — it won’t fit in many passenger vehicles. That means investing in the right mounting system. You can find hitch, trunk and roof racks with various merits. For example, many people prefer trunk or hitch over roof because a glance in their rear view mirror reassures them that their bicycle remains securely in place.
However, your most pressing concern is keeping your bike secure. A poorly attached trunk-mount could create considerable damage if you accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds — and possibly cause an accident. The driver behind you may swerve into oncoming traffic or hit a guard rail while trying to avoid a detached bike.
Use sufficient straps to secure your bike with a loop. This method deters thieves while keeping your bike from shifting or falling off during transit.
2. Select a Bike-Friendly City
Some cities are more bike-friendly than others. For example, Cape Coral, Florida, is one of the worst cities to take your bike, despite the lovely temperatures. It has over a thousand fatalities for every 100,000 bicycle commuters. However, none of those deaths occurred among people wearing helmets — so protect your skull-bucket if you plan to ride these streets.
However, you’ll have a blast if you head west to San Francisco. The city is ranked the best for bicycle commuters, with few fatalities. The lack of temperature extremes makes this city ideal for this mode of transportation, and you’ll get a serious quad and hamstring workout pedaling up the city’s many hills. Then, the fun begins when you get to race down the other side.
Look for destinations that incorporate bike lanes into their highway planning. Another tip if you’re traffic shy? Seek cities that don’t prohibit riding on the sidewalk so that you can play it safe when rush hour hits. Contact local city or county offices to be sure.
3. Plan Pedal-Friendly Activities
The whole point of taking your bike on vacation is to increase your fun and enjoyment. Do so by planning pedal-friendly activities.
For example, many destinations like Gettysburg have self-guided driving tours. However, you’ll enjoy an even more immersive experience if you tour the historic battleground by bike. Lose yourself in the bucolic Pennsylvania countryside, where you can almost feel the spirits of yesteryear crying out from the picturesque green fields. You might need more than a day to take in everything.
Are you the competitive sort? Why not plan on participating in a race while you’re on holiday? Cruise the historic and jaw-dropping Blue Ridge Parkway through North Carolina and Virginia, or head out west for the Tour de Tucson. It features over 9,000 riders the weekend before Thanksgiving — burn off those pumpkin pie calories in advance.
4. Carry a Repair Kit
Few things are more disappointing than having a flat and no way to fix it. Depending on your destination, the situation could even become deadly. You don’t want to find yourself miles from anywhere on a desert trail with a cholla needle puncturing your tire.
Ensure you pack a portable bike repair kit in your luggage. You can fix a flat and lubricate your chains without a visit to the local shop. It should include a spare tube or two and a patch kit, wrenches and screwdrivers — or a quality multi-tool — tire levers and chain oil. You should also carry plenty of water, so you don’t get dehydrated while fixing your ride.
5. Protect Your Ride While on the Road
Although you don’t like to imagine the possibility, theft and damage can occur. What can you do to protect your bike — and yourself — on the road?
Check your insurance coverage. Fortunately, your automobile coverage offers some security in many cases. That’s because most policies cover vehicle-related damages others cause you, not only your ride.
However, you want to check your underinsured/uninsured motorist and medical payment coverage levels. Furthermore, you should have health and disability insurance — even if pricey. Traumatic brain injuries from bike-vehicle collisions can cost millions in medical bills, and you can’t rely on the driver who hits you to carry more than the state minimum insurance. If the other driver flees the scene or is indigent, you may have no way to fill the gap. You could end up declaring bankruptcy or worse, without the right protection.
Taking Your Bike on Vacation
Taking your bike on vacation has multiple advantages. You can see more of the sites and plan exciting adventures that immerse you in your destination.
However, you need the right approach to make the most of your trip. Follow the five tips above to take your bike on vacation.