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Taking Your Bike Abroad?

Everyone knows that Yorkshire is the best place in the world to go cycling that's why the Tour de France came here last year. We are aware however that some people who might not live in Yorkshire choose to go abroad with their bikes during the colder months of the year. Ok we can understand and forgive that, Mallorca does have us beaten for warm winter sun and beautiful road ascents on pristine tarmac- and you can go and ogle at the pro-teams as they whizz past you every day. We're also aware that some people choose to go abroad with their mountain bikes during the summer, apparently places like Whistler and the Alps are quite popular because they have groomed trails and real mountains - who knew?

So if you are planning a trip away this year to warmer climes or locations with more challenging terrain or simply giving in to your wanderlust and the desire to ride those classic routes that you see on Sky Sports during the race season we understand, we even forgive you and we've got all the gear you need to make even the shortest weekend away into a cycling epic, the tales of which you'll be able to dine out upon for the remainder of the season.

Before you pack anything away you need to give your bike a clean and full tune up. Whenever we travel give our bikes a full service, it's a damn site easier and cheaper to work out any bugs and replace worn parts before you leave. Given it's really the start of the season we tend to replace our chain and cassette (if needed) at this time of year. If you're a regular chain checker and swapper you'll probably get away with just the new chain. We normally get 4-5 chain's worth of life from each rear cassette on our road bikes, of course there's no substitute for using a chain wear indicator and we have some cracking Jobsworth chain tools for peanuts. Don't forget to pack that new tube of chain lube as well; you're probably going somewhere warm so try one of the new dry lubes.

It's probably time to replace all your cables as well, brake cables weaken with extended use and gear cables pick up all sorts of crap off the road during the winter, so it's an ideal time to clean these out and/or replace them as necessary. While you're pulling the cables out why not spend five minute redoing your bar tape, you're going to be seeing a lot of your bars during your trip so a few pounds spent on added comfort can only be a good thing. While you're looking at your contact points don't forget to flip your shoes over and check your cleats, make sure that at least one of your group has a spare set of cleats suitable for your shoes. You're unlikely to kill a pair but when it happens that's game over without spares.

Take your wheels off and give your tyres a good visual inspection. If you find nicks and divots in them it's probably worthwhile replacing them and packing a few spares for good measure. While you're at it don't forget to take a good supply of inner tubes and a puncture repair kit or a few packs of tyre sealant. Check your tyre levers are in good shape and give up a few minutes up to perfect your tyre changing technique before you go. Don't forget to check your rims, no point going abroad with buckled rims. We've got everything that you might need to straighten them from spoke keys to our Jobsworth Pro-Spec wheel truing stand.

Just because you're travelling somewhere hot don't assume that the temperatures will be up in the 80's from first thing in the morning. Unless you're heading for the equator it's still going to be cold in the early morning and late evening so consider you cycling wardrobe accordingly. Arm warmers and knee warmers really come into their own in these types of condition and of course they pack away small enough to carry with you on the bike once they've served their useful purpose each morning. If your backside is hanging out the back of your shorts then it might be time to treat yourself to a new set, you're certainly going to need to take at least two pairs away with you to make sure you have a fresh pair each day.

Wherever you go sunglasses are going to be a necessity, whether just keeping the bugs out of your eyes with a clear or yellow lens or protecting your sight from the worst ravages of midday sun with a high reflectivity lens. Don't forget to pack them in a hard carry case; nothing kills expensive sunglasses like an over-packed suitcase. To keep the sun off your head we have a huge range of pro-team branded cycling caps, they offer a touch of classic cycling style and practical sun protection all rolled into one. While you're thinking about your head take a look at that old helmet of yours, has it taken a few knocks over the years? Maybe it's due for replacement.

You're going to be spending long days in the saddle so it makes sense to take along some protection. We're big fans of a generous dab of chamois cream to help keep things running smooth down below. Likewise a splash of sun tan cream can help you roast to an even golden brown without putting yourself at risk from the harmful effects of U.V. While you're thinking of these, grab some bits and bobs from your local chemist to put together a mini first aid kit. Elastoplast strips, sterile dressings, spray Iodine and self-adhesive sutures (steri-strips) should cover you for all but the worst eventuality. We'd probably add a little tube of superglue into that pack as well, it's great for repairing skin flaps, split nails and of course filling in the little tears you're bound to get in your tyres from a full week of serious riding.

If you are as serious about what you eat when you cycle as we are, chances are you'll already be considering taking a bucket of your favourite sports drink with you. We're big fans of the High-5 Race Faster packs they contain a huge selection of bars, tablets, sachets and powders for much less money than you can buy them for separately- there's even a bottle in there! Don't forget if you're going somewhere hot you'll be sweating that much more so pack a couple of tubes of High-5 Zero tablets to help keep you hydrated. If you're replacing those mouldy old bottles you've been using all season with spanking new High-5 ones you'll be getting the tablets for free with your bottles.

With all this kit to carry you're going to need to think about your luggage as well. For carrying your bike we've got every type of case from soft padded bags all the way through to ultra durable wheeled bike boxes that'll protect your prized possessions from the worst that careless baggage handlers can dish out.

The one thing we can't supply you with is insurance, but we'd recommend one that covers bike theft, damage and medical cover including emergency evacuation to the tune of £500,000. Pack your helmet, ride safe and don't burn yourself on the very first day. 

16 March 2015

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