London to Paris kit and equipment
What type of bike do I need?
Unless you are doing an off-road trip on a mountain bike, the choice boils down to road bike v hybrid bike.
You'll cover the ground quicker on a road bike as they are lighter and more aerodynamic, with narrower tyres which roll faster over the road surface. The riding stance is more aerodynamic too as you are more forward (rather than upright) in the saddle, with your hands either on the top of the handlebars or on the drops. This all equates to being around 30% faster than a hybrid which is a huge difference, especially if you are part of an organised group ride where nearly all riders will be on road bikes.The two downsides are it can be a less comfortable riding position for some - and it's trickier to carry panniers and bags.
A plus points for hybrids is their ability to handle most types of surface thanks to wider tyres which provide a more stable ride. So if you are doing an independent ride where you need to carry all your kit and time isn't crucial then the hybrid becomes a viable option.
Whichever bike you choose be sure to get used to riding it long before your trip and as the big day approaches make sure that it's in perfect working order.
Getting your bike serviced
We've got plenty of expert advice on how to maintain your bike - and how to carry out running repairs - but getting it serviced beforehand by a reputable bike shop is always a good idea.
The British Heart Foundation told us: "It sounds silly but the biggest issues in the past have been caused by pre-existing bike problems."
Their checklist for participants before each challenge is to make sure...
- Your bike is safe to ride
- Your brakes work correctly
- Your wheels, steering and frame are safe and true
- Your bearings are all free and without play
- All components which wear have plenty of life in them
- Your drivetrain and gears are well adjusted, shift smoothly, are free of rust and dirt and freshly lubricated
In terms of the spares you should take with you on the bike, the BHF recommends the following for their supported trips:
- 3x inner tubes for your bike
- 1x repair kit with levers and patches
- 1x multi tool with appropriate Allen keys
- 1x bike pump (check you know how to use it before you come!)
- 2x spare chain power links (ask your bike shop if you’re not sure as there are a number of options)
It's all the more important on longer rides spread over a number of days that you do everything you can to make the extended hours spent in the saddle as comfortable as possible.
This includes decent padded cycling shorts and chamois cream to ease chafing. And don't forget the sunscreen as getting burnt could rapidly make the ride even more challenging.
You should always wear a helmet and there's more advice here on other items of clothing
as well as footwear and additional equipment
It sounds simple but make sure you've got the basics ticked off - write down the number for the French emergency services on a card and keep it with you at all times (112 is the European emergency number while 15 is also used for medical emergencies in France).
Take a European Health Insurance card (E111's have been discontinued) – you can get a free EHIC card by visiting www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/home.do
And if you are travelling in a group be sure to have everyone's phone numbers in case you get separated.