Ride yourself to happiness
There’s something about riding that makes me happy. It doesn’t require as much effort, as say running, and you get to enjoy the landscape around you as a part of the scenery. Sure, sometimes there’s that hill that kills you, but when you get to the top you are usually rewarded with a nice view. Riding in the Swedish countryside is particularly nice, as you pass by green fields, slow grass chewing cows and the beautiful red Swedish houses. All of this while listening to the gorgeous soundtrack of Mother nature.
Have I convinced you? Great! Here are some tips.
Ride on bicycle paths as much as possible. If riding in the countryside, secondary roads are also a good option, with limited traffic and usually more enjoyable views. Wear a helmet and colourful clothes.
Make sure you have a map with you (app or paper map with bicycle paths). I use “maps with me”, and it works offline too.
Extra tip: You can also have a look at the Swedish rules for cycling here.
Plan plan plan
This might be just me, but I find planning the rides in advance helps a lot, especially if booking accommodation in advance. I usually plan the distances well, and try to have longer rides intercalated with shorter ones. Adding an extra night in some cool places is also a good idea and gives you a whole day to better explore the surroundings. Also, if you are staying more than one night in the same place, you don’t have to ride with all your stuff in that extra day.
Obviously, it’s also nice to go with the flow and ride as you feel. For me, however, the planning is a part of the vacation, that I can do weeks before while I’m still working, making me dream about it.
Extra tip: No matter how many kilometres you plan, you will always ride more, because you will find something extra to ride to. Keep that in mind!
Where to stay
Hotels, B&Bs, AirBnBs, cottages or camping – it’s up to you and your budget. Choosing the right accommodation is important and can change the tone of your vacation. If nature is your thing, maybe you want to go camping. That means you will have to cycle with camping equipment and will, therefore, probably, ride fewer kilometres every day. Or maybe you are sporty and want to travel longer distances, which means you are probably looking forward to a nice hot shower and a comfy bed at the end of the day. Your vacation, your decision.
Extra tip: B&Bs and AirBnBs are usually more affordable and you can ask your local hosts about their favourite things to do or where to eat.
I’ve chosen my dear beloved bicycle Pam as my adventure partner and as you might see in the picture it is not a super top-notch bicycle. It’s light enough, robust enough, it has a back rack for all my stuff and most important of all, it’s comfortable. Test your bike on a few longer rides before you start your adventure, just to see if you need anything else. For instance, I added a gel cover on the saddle to prevent bottom soreness.
Apart from that, I use training clothes to be more comfortable and glasses (shaded or not depending on the weather), which help against the wind and prevent dry eyes. This is especially good if you use contact lenses.
Extra tip: use a small bag attached to the handle bar for easy access to your phone, map, wallet, etc.
There are loads of bicycle bags to choose from in sport or “hobby” shops like XXL or Biltema, among others. Choose waterproof bags and make sure they fit on your bike rack. You can also find bicycle accessories in these shops.
- Pack for all kinds of weather, including rain and wind. Make sure your rain jacket is easy to grab and have a change of clothes at the top of your bag, in case you get soaked. Don’t worry about getting wet. The temperatures are higher in the summer, and you will be warm from cycling, so a little rain is enjoyable.
- Pack an extra tube for your tire, a flat tire kit and small tools for your bike.
- The packing slowly adds up so packing for a riding vacation is all about the essentials. You’ll learn about yours as you prepare for it.
Extra tip: divide your packing in categories and pack each separately (Ikea has some great mini bags for this). Like that it’s easy to find the little bag of clothes, cosmetics, cables, etc.
I’ve cycled through sunny warm days, rainy days, tough hills, on tired legs, on a hungry stomach, but never have I ever regretted any kilometre spent on my bike during my summer vacation.
Enjoy the ride!