A Girl’s Guide to Your First Cycling Trip

Catalonia Cycling Trip

I wouldn’t say I’m a cyclist. I’ve completed a total of three spin classes in my life and they are, quite literally, a pain in the arse.

So when I was offered the chance to go on a cycling trip to Catalonia in Spain, I was a little ambivalent. Ok that’s an understatement, I was terrified. I didn’t think my little asthmatic lungs could withstand a 5 day stint of pedalling around mountains and cities alike. But what can I say, I read the words ‘wine-tasting’ and ‘tapas’ and signed up.

Sangria and Tapas

But once the cycling trip rolled around, I started to get a little worried… What did I need to pack for this kind of trip? What kind of pace would I be expected to keep up with?

Well as you have probably deduced from my ‘5  Awesome Places To Visit in Catalonia That Aren’t Barcelona‘ post, I survived. In fact I more than survived, I really quite enjoyed it! Despite cycling over 100km! Who knew it would be such fun?

The Cycling Trip Gang!

So I thought it was worth using my experience to put a list together of what you should expect from your first cycling trip. Although I should pre-warn you than one trip does not make me an expert in any way! This is just what I’ve taken away from it!

WHAT TO PACK

Cycling Wear

When prepping for a trip, my first thoughts go to ‘What am I going to wear?’ (I’m a fashion graduate don’t judge me). But cycling is a whole new ball game for me. How do I pull off the fabulous cyclist look?

I turned to New Look to sort me out and stocked up on their latest sportswear range. These awesome outfits were fun and cool but still allowed me to sweat it out on the rocky roads of Costa Daurada with it’s quick drying fabric!

New Look Sportswear

Chameleon Crop Top – £20.00, New Look

Chameleon Leggings – £35.00, New Look

New Look Sportswear

Black Space Dye Sports Leggings – £17.99, New Look

Black Space Dye Crop Top – £9.99, New Look

Sunglasses – £30.00 Quay Australia

New Look Sportswear

Black Space Dye Vest – £12.99, New Look

Black Animal Print Shorts – £12.99, New Look

I even wore this range on the plane as it’s so comfy!

I lived in my New Look Abstract Trainers too, perfect for both cycling around and exploring cities by foot.

New Look Sportswear Trainers

Abstract Print Trainers – £22.99, New Look

New Look Sportswear Trainers

I even had a sick AF New Look Water Bottle reminding me to WORK IT. I definitely think I worked it.

New Look Sportswear Water Bottle

Work It Water Bottle – £3.99, New Look

The only thing I think I should have invested in is Padded Cycling Shorts! Cycling everyday is brutal on the butt.

Evening Wear

For alfresco tapas dinners and night time strolls through Spanish cities, I packed some of my lovely Topshop dresses. Remember that you will need clothes to wear when you’re not cycling! These were perfect.

Girona Outfit

White Lace Dress – £35, Topshop

Red Tassle Flats – £6 Primark

Bring clothes for after the cycling!

Essentials

Finally bring lots of extra underwear and socks. I usually allocate one per day but if you’re cycling in the day then going out a night, you won’t want to be wearing the same pants. I’m just saying.

Barcelona Bike Ride

Toiletries

I had to remember to bring enough shampoo and conditioner for washing my hair every day. I’m more of an ‘every other day’ kinda girl (or as my mum would say ‘a bit soapy’) but daily exercise means daily lathering, rinsing and repeating.

Plasters for possible footwear chaffing is a must! I brought a mixture of normal fabric plasters and blister plasters.

Also, I completely forgot to bring Deet Mosquito Repellentand Savlon Bites & Stings Pain Relief Gelbut would thoroughly recommend it to anyone going on this kind of trip. I never think of places in Europe of being particularly susceptible to mosquitoes, but when you’re venturing through wetlands and fields, they’re going to get you.

Finally, remember that hair removal is key, kids! If you’re getting your pins out in your cycling shorts, it’s an everyday kind of deal.

Legs or hotdogs - Sant Feliu De Guixols

HOW TO PREPARE

Two of the aforementioned spin classes were in preparation for this trip and I was NOT good at it. Luckily my trip was nothing like it. When you’re doing a ‘cyclotourism’ kind of trip where you’re just exploring places by bike rather than going pedal to the metal, you don’t have to be a top cyclist. I just think you need to have moderate fitness levels. My glutes were in no way prepared but I walk a lot so my legs seemed to manage all 100km.

What I’m saying is, don’t worry about trying to get a lot of cycling in beforehand. You just need to be a fairly active person.

They see me rollin', they hatin'

TOP TIPS

Bring Snacks

I admit, I totally panicked in Gatwick Airport on the way to Catalonia, and bought 8 protein bars from Boots. I read a pro-cyclist’s blog whilst I was in Departures and freaked out. Apparently protein bars are a thing.

Don’t worry, protein bars were totally unnecessary. I’m not a pro cyclist and this wasn’t a mammoth trip.

However they did come in handy. On a few bike rides, we were due to have a late lunch and being on a cycling route in the middle of a vineyard, snack opportunities were scarce. So out came the Trek Morning Berry Flapjack! Winner.

Time for a snack!

Choose Your Bike Wisely

If you’re on a cycling tour, it’s likely you will start a bike ride with the tour guide instructing you to choose your bike. My first instinct is to go for the one with the lowest seat, being a 5ft 4in gal and all. But I learnt on this trip that there’s more to look for! In particular… a gel seat!! Save the ass with this beaut. If you see one, pounce on it. You can adjust the height but you can’t change the seat.

Bike Gel Seat

Wear A Helmet

Safety first, you know. Even when the helmets are hideous like this beauty… Yes this actually happened.

Cycling Helmet!

Take Your Phone For Photos

Bulky cameras are difficult to get out of your bag and take a photo during a bike ride. Not to mention extremely dangerous. But I found it super easy to whip the phone out and take a quick snap! Obviously this is probably still a bit dangerous but there’s not always time to stop!

Catalonia Cycling Trip

Find Somewhere To Put Your Asthma Pump

I didn’t consider this before the trip. And there was only one place I could put it for easy access…

Asthma Pump Storage on a Bike RIde

And this isn’t all that socially acceptable!

A girl on the trip had a bumbag which would totally solve all asthma pump storage problems. Just something to think about for all of my respiratorily-challenged homies. It ain’t easy being wheezy.

Take A Suitable Rucksack

A rucksack is necessary for carrying your water and hoody and purse and camera, etc, but make sure you choose a good one. I went for fashion over function with my faux leather backpack from H&M (24.99) but the synthetic fabric made me have some serious back sweat action. Gross I know, but let it be a lesson! Get a breathable bag! A cotton lightweight number would be ideal.

Every good bike ride ends at the beach

So there you have it, the knowledge I accrued from my very first cycling trip. What do you think? Any other tips you think I should throw in there? Leave a comment below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!

Terres Del Ebre, Spain

Please note this is a sponsored post but all views expressed are my own! I wouldn’t play you like that shorty.

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