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Preparing for a sporting adventure this summer

It is once again the time for summer travel, which often means traveling to participate in our favorite outdoor sports. Last year at this time, we asked our friend Scott to share the ten places we shouldn’t miss when we visit Paris. The Champs-Élysées for the finish of the  Tour de France was number ten on his list, not because it’s his least favorite but because it doesn’t always coincide with his visits. This year, although he won’t be there for the finish, he will be in Burgundy to watch four of the Tour’s twenty-one stages. Since he’ll also be cycling while he’s there, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to ask him to share some of his tips for packing and preparation when he goes on cycling trips, tips that can easily be applied to other sports travel.

1.     Shipping a Bicycle (Golf Bag, or Other Large Equipment)

If my travel is organized around a ride, I’ll travel with my bicycle. In this situation, the difficulty outweighs the effort required to rent a bicycle that wouldn’t be fitted—or outfitted—just for me.

The most important item when you’re taking your bicycle is the travel case. A few years ago, on the advice of my brother-in-law, I invested in an evoc bag. Cycling Weekly has listed the evoc bike travel bag as the “best for ease of use” in its best bike bags and boxes for travel 2024. My bag has a combination of hard and soft casing. A major benefit is it requires minimal disassembly (and reassembly); only the wheels and pedals need to be removed for packing. It’s lightweight and easy to roll through the airport. I’ve never had a problem checking my bicycle as luggage; however, you should look at the baggage handling rules and costs for your airline before you start packing.

My son puts the same effort into golf as I do into cycling. A good golf travel bag eliminates the worry about whether his clubs will arrive in the same condition as when they were packed. Travel + Leisure offers a 10 best list of travel golf bags for 2024. He thinks it’s less dependent on whether the golf bag is hard or soft than it is on how he packs it. He likes a bag that can hold his clubs, as well as the rest of his golf accessories, including golf shoes, gloves, and balls. He carefully wraps his ogolf etc® golf towels around his clubs to limit any movement. If packing and traveling with your bicycle or your golf clubs is not your style, you can find companies like  Ship Sticks that can pick up and deliver your golf clubs to your destination.

When I’ll just be riding for a day or so while traveling, as I’ll be doing on my trip to Burgundy, I’ll rent or borrow a bicycle. If you’ll be riding with a cycling friend from the area, they’ll be able to get you situated. If not, find a bicycle shop online to get you set up with a bicycle and a suggested ride. They might even locate a riding companion, if you’d prefer to go with someone with knowledge of the area.

2.     Packing the Sports Accessories

As anyone who cycles knows, the bicycle is only the beginning. As with any sport, there is an endless amount of gear. If you’re leaving your bicycle at home, you’ll still want to bring your pedals, cycling shoes, and seat. Nothing can ruin a ride like an uncomfortable seat or cycling shoes.

Bicycling safety applies even on vacation. I never ride without a helmet—neither should you. I bring the one that’s been properly fitted and used only on my head. Bicycle helmets should be replaced after a crash even if they look fine. You can’t always tell whether a helmet has been in a crash. Although there is some debate about the exact number of years a properly cared for helmet remains effective, I replace mine every couple of years even if it has not been in a crash. Consumer Reports suggests replacing your helmet at least every five years due to wear and tear, including exposure to light and heat, as well as the likelihood that newer helmets will incorporate advances in technology and performance. You know the history of your bicycle helmet, but you won’t know the history of a borrowed or rented helmet. Knowledge is power where head protection is involved.

If you’re not limited in what you can take, I recommend you take with you as much of what you usually use on rides. Yes, you may be able to find what you need on location, but you can’t count on that, and there’s more fun to be had on vacation than shopping for gear you already own. I bring my favorite fuel (e.g., gels, bars, and tablets) in individual clear zippered storage bags. I’ll also bring my own tool kit, water bottles, and wet wipes to clean off my bicycle, helmet, and other gear before I pack it all up for the trip home. One item you’ll need to plan to buy on location is a CO² cartridge, if you like to carry a spare in your saddle bag. You cannot carry full cartridges in either carry-on or checked baggage, according to the TSA.

The same recommendations apply to golf travel. Remember to bring the tools on which you regularly rely, whether that’s a range finder or other electronics. Bring spare batteries so you’re not left searching for the right ones.

Before you close your bicycle case or golf travel bag, take photos and throw in an AirTag. You’ve no reason to expect anything to go wrong en route to your destination, but an AirTag can help you to locate a bag and photos can help you prove what was in it.

3.     Taking Everything Else You’ll Need

I previously mentioned that I’m a generous packer. One accessory I’ve found to keep create space and keep my suitcases organized is the clear zippered Ziploc® storage bag. I can separate types of cycling apparel (e.g., socks, jerseys, etc.) and keep them visible without any kind of labeling. Pressing out the air before zipping makes the bags as small as possible. The bags are particularly useful on cycling trips during which I’m going to accumulate sweaty gear without access to a laundry or laundry service. If you’re on a trip that takes care of your gear, enjoy.

When packing cycling clothing, it comes down to the climate and weather at your location. As with any travel, be prepared to layer. In cycling, that means throwing a vest, arm and leg warmers, and a cap in your bag. Layers that you can remove come in handy when participating in long rides that begin early in the cool morning and continue into the hot afternoon. For golf, don’t forget your belt. Rember to bring cash to tip along the way.

In your zeal to get your bike or clubs packed, don’t forget everything else you’ll need for your trip. That includes a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, anti-chafing cream, and bug spray, as well as your down etc travel pillow and blanket. Take your medicines and remember the 3M Micropore Surgical Tape for blistered fingers and heels. It doesn’t hurt when it comes off. Your sporting vacations should be fun and not painful.

 Ride on, ride safe, and have fun!

 -Guest Blogger Scott

 

Read more:

A Traveler’s Take on Paris: The 10 Places and Experiences You Shouldn’t Miss 

11 Tips to Travel More Calmly and Comfortably this Summer

 

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