Tips for Comfortable Touring and Keeping Healthy While on the Road
Embarking on a bicycle tour of Thailand can be an exciting and daunting prospect, and even though Thailand is well suited for cycle touring, there are quite a few ways you should prepare for your trip before you set off. Making sure you have a comfortable ride throughout your trip is important, but on a more serious note you need to keep healthy and avoid any illness or injury while cycling. Taking a few precautionary measures will go a long way in keeping you happy and healthy during your bicycle tour.
Where to Begin?
You may think there is so much to prepare before you set off that you simply don’t know where to start. Besides from preparing your bike, arranging travel tickets to your chosen start point, and studying the route you are going to take, you need to make sure you get cover for medical bills, so that if you need emergency treatment during your trip you aren’t left out of pocket. You should also protect your bicycle against theft or damage, so compare bike insurance to get a good deal on a policy. You should definitely tell your insurance providers that the purpose of your trip is a cycle tour, so that you are not caught out by exclusions in your policies.
Ok, so you’re prepared for the worst should it happen, now you need know how to make your trip go smoothly. First of all, if you’re thinking about carrying all your stuff on your back, just forget it. Invest in some lightweight and compact bicycle luggage. A five litre bar bag and a ten litre rack bag should give you plenty of space to take everything you need for a couple weeks on the road. For longer trips, or if you need to take camping gear with you, invest in some larger rear panniers. Don’t be tempted to buy larger packs than you actually need for your bike, because this will just encourage you to take more stuff with you. Make sure you only take essentials and avoid packing too many clothes, because more weight means using more energy while riding. (How to pack bicycle panniers)
The Right Clothing
Wearing the right clothes while cycling is key to staying comfortable while clocking up those miles. They won’t only keep you riding longer, but will also protect you from common cycling ailments like rashes and chafe. Padded cycling shorts or trousers may not be the height of fashion, but investing in a pair or two is an absolute must for any touring cyclists. They don’t have to be a bright neon colour, just make sure they are a good fit.
For your top layer you would be wise to use some type of high wicking fabric so that the inevitable sweat you’ll be releasing can evaporate easily. Also, make sure you have long sleeved tops so that your skin is not exposed to the sun all day. Proper cycling shoes are also useful, although you can get by with a pair of comfortable, breathable trainers. Visibility is also important, so it would be wise to take a high visibility jacket to wear if cycling at night.
Staying Healthy and Avoiding Heatstroke
So you’re ready to start your trip, you are dressed for the part and don’t have too much gear weighing you down. Depending on how far you are going to ride, and how experienced a touring cyclist you are, it’s worth getting a bit of training under your belt. This should avoid you getting worn out quickly or damaging your muscles. Build yourself up slowly over the months approaching your trip, and you should have no problems once the real thing comes along.
When cycling in Thailand, you really have to take the heat factor into consideration. It’s very likely going to be hot and the sun will be strong, which can cause you big problems if you don’t keep well hydrated while cycling in Thailand. The fact that you’re riding for long periods means you are exposed to the sun for long periods too, which brings with it the threat of heatstroke. Even if you are hot, you should not remove your top layer to try and cool down. The sun rays will soak up moisture from your exposed skin and dehydrate you even quicker. In addition, the added heat emanating from the asphalt beneath you can raise your body temperature quickly.
To reduce the chances of becoming a victim of heatstroke, there are a couple of simple things you can do. First of all, if you are feeling uncomfortably hot, soak a light cotton layer in cold water and put a lightweight jacket or top over it. The soaked layer on your skin will go a long way in cooling you down. The other thing you must do is take regular breaks to get out of the sun and rehydrate by drinking water. Add electrolyte tablets to the water to help your body replenish all those electrolytes lost through your sweat.
Ready to Go!
Keeping in mind all these tips before and during your bicycle tour will help you to avoid any problem with your body while on the saddle. Remember, your body is the engine that is going to get you through your journey, so keeping it working properly and avoiding any unnecessary pain really is important.
Planning a cycling trip in Thailand? Want to remove some of the guesswork when it comes to routes and information? BicycleThailand.com offers GPS route data for touring cyclists that can be used on a GPS device, smartphone, or tablet. These routes can be viewed on your device regardless of internet access during your Thailand cycling adventure. Learn more about our Thailand GPS cycle touring routes.
Phil Freeman says
Avoid mid day & big cities , do ride roads with a shoulder or better with bike path . Some drivers think a few inches is room for bikes.
Michael Cosenza says
Agree with Phil about Thai drivers and roads with a bike path.
I’ve toured thousands upon thousands of kms in Vietnam Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia & Singapore 98% without any help from commercial transportation. I disagree with the article regarding packing a tent and camping gear. Absolutely no need to do this as there are more than ample reasonably priced places to stay and eat along the way. .
david'e lazarus says
You did forget a few little things, do not drink the local water except bottled, and yes electolyte tablets and it isn’t the heat it is the humidity as your body tries to cool itself, I lived in Phoenix Arizona USA and regularly road in 105 F weather but zero humidity, it is way worse here with 90 F and 85 % humidity mid day , I sweat like a dog here, and never there, also always carry a spare tube, you never know how far to the next town that will have a bike shop that carries 700c sided tube, they are not all that common for the regular population, also a spare quick link for fixing a chain on the road as well has handy wipes riding with greasy hands after a road repair is a nightmare , be prepared … and cell phone coverage can be spotty between towns , local drivers believe bikes should not be on the road and children should ride them on local side streets, low statis which is why no adult for the most part ride bikes unless they are too poor to own and illegal smoking scooter with no liscense or insurance or lights at night