Your Mountain Bike Holiday – Essential Packing List
Going on a mountain bike holiday can be a bit stressful, especially when you entrust the planning and packing phase to Mr Betty. It can sometimes be a little overwhelming trying to remember everything you need to take so I thought I might help out those in need (it also helps me with my future two wheeled escapades). Here are a few essential things that you need to remember when going on an mtb holiday;
It would be mad if you left without your bike on a biking holiday (providing you are not renting)! Sometimes in the rush to leave the house you might forget some of the parts for your bike, or in my case the entire thing (it only happened once!). Remember to pack the pedals, axles and any parts that you have unattached from your bike.
I would personally recommend taking a few spare parts as well, like brake pads or rear mech hangers just in case you lose a few during your rides and don’t fancy trying to work out the french for “i smashed my rear mech on a rock”
If you are taking your bike on a flight as part of your getaway then you will need to get yourself a decent bike bag, make sure your extra luggage is booked on and take the bike apart to some extent to pack it. If you are looking for a guide to packing your bike into either a soft or hard case then BikeFlights have a great guide here. Once you have packed the bike into its bag properly and wished it a teary goodbye at the special luggage check in station in the airport then all you can do it is sit back and pray the gods of riding and airport baggage handlers look favourably on you that day.
Kit and Clothes
Remember to take clothes to ride in. If you’re going to be riding for a fortnight then this means taking a number of pairs of everything, unless you fancy putting off your fellow uplift companions with your smelly shorts. Of course it is a great temptation to leave all of last seasons clothes at home and “have to” buy new ones when you get there. As much as a temptation it may be, it would be a major expense, you won’t find too many bargains in the riding / ski towns and this goes doubly so whilst the pound continues its dogged descent against the euro since Brexit.
Remember to prepare for any weather as undoubtedly wherever you are going it is going to be at a higher altitude in an alpine climate. This means that even when it is sunny and 40 degrees out, there is still a chance of rain. If you have spent enough time in the UK you are probably more likely to overcompensate for the chance of rain, in which case it is worth us reminding you that you are unlikely to need your thermal base layers or seal skinz socks.
Aside from biking clothes you will need an ‘apres-ride’ wardrobe for hitting the bars (read: cheese) hard. The dress code in most bike towns is fairly relaxed so your favourite bike brand top and shorts is going to work fine, plus it’ll give you a chance to show off the many scars adorning your pins.
Just like the creepy PHSE teacher said in school; no matter where you are going, it is important to take protection. A decent helmet is the minimum requirement for you to enjoy the trails. GIven that you are going to be tackling steep and fast descending you are almost certainly going to want to be riding with a full face helmet.
Personally, in advance of going to The Alps earlier this summer I decided to get not only a new helmet and knee pads but also to wear elbow pads and a back protector (in a lightweight Ergon BP100 backpack). I didn’t go for a neck protector although this might have been a good idea, and I did see a lot of riders making use of one out in The Alps. A neck protector is something I will be looking into for future steezy times.
In hindsight this seemed like the right level of protection for me, though at times it was certainly too hot! The faster and steeper you go, the more protection you need to considering taking and wearing. If you’ve got an old pair of pads that are “so last season” it is worth taking them in case you total your “on trend” super-enduro pads.
Depending on how much do you love specific foods, you might need to invest in some food at home before you leave. This is of course dependent on whether you are flying or driving to your chosen destination (although I would gladly pay extra to take a suitcase of peanut butter across The Atlantic). Mr Betty has experience of such things and he was all too aware that there was not much in the way of peanut butter across The Channel, thus we came prepared carrying 4 jars worth of nutty goodness.
I would recommend stocking up on some performance food and mineral tablets to make sure you stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up throughout your holiday. Our choice for our holiday were Clif bars. We enjoyed the mint chocolate energy bars and peanut butter and chocolate protein bars. After an hour or so of riding an energy bar on the chairlift back to the top was just what the doctor ordered to avoid fatigue. It was also important to restore those aching muscles at the end of the day and Clif bar have done a good job of making a protein bar taste like the description.
It also pays to bring the beers along with you to The Alps. Pre-drinking may be a quintessentially British phenomenon but it helps avoid the Ski-town prices in the bars at times.
Despite reminding you it is almost inevitable that you will forget sun cream even for just a second and end up looking a lot like Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants. Both Mr Betty and I were reminded of this fact the hard way and quickly invested in some cooling apres sun before you are well and truly thermidored. Remember to bring a hat for the brief amount of time your head is not encased in a full face. Whatever you do you are going to end up coming home with a body armour tan which will be sure to bemuse and confuse your non-riding friends (if you have any left at this point!).
This one is probably self explanatory but it is vital to remember tools. Bring all of the tools that you need for your bike, and then bring all the “other ones” that you always forget about because you don’t normally carry them in your riding pack. Bring tubes, tyre levers and a decent pump to carry on your rides or have close to hand. One of my favourite tools to carry was the Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite which proves good things come in small packages (despite what Mr Betty says). It was a reversing torque ratchet that is easily light enough to fit into your pack or your pocket and comes with all of the bits you would need to deal with any issue on your bike. It will forever now be my go-to tool for fixing issues when out on the trail.
First Aid kit
Hopefully you will not have to use it but having a first aid kit is essential. Mountain biking can get messy so you need to be prepared. Bring a few plasters and as many disinfectant wipes as you can carry. Bandage and some tape will be probably useful too as Mr Betty discovered after a nasty crash on Les Chavannes in The Alps.
This also goes without saying but remember to get adequate insurance which covers downhill mountain biking, and if you are eligible get an EHIC card. It is also worth knowing how the medical services work in the country you are visiting and how you would contact them should you need to.
You are going to need to spend some dollar whilst on your holiday, even if you spend most days out on the trails from sunrise to sunset. I would strongly recommend getting a Revolut card. This system works well with a physical mastercard (with contactless) and an excellent and intuitive app. It allows you to exchange between major currencies without paying charges, and it provides exchanges at a competitive rate so you’re not being stung that way either.
The app and card also come with a number of great security features such as the ability to disable the card remotely or just the mag stripe or tie the card to a location. It also provides a detailed breakdown of your spending to help you keep track.
Most bike holidays are hopefully somewhere sunny so it is worth checking out the nearest lake, river or sea to chill out at after a long day. Also swimming is a great rest day activity and it enables you to stretch your sore muscles and help you with recovery. So pack your swimsuit and have a great holiday or like Mr Betty you’ll just have to go in without one anyway.
July 30, 2017