So you’re thinking about cycle touring in Alberta’s Rocky Mountain national parks or in an equally spectacular location? You’ve got a bike and you’re wondering what you should do to get it ready for road riding in the mountains? I’ve asked a friend, Brent Robinson of Toronto’s Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop, for some tips to help you get your gear ready for your fully supported road cycling tour with Mountain Madness Tours.
Is My Bike Right for the Tour?
First off, consider your ride. Have you got the right bike? Robinson says, “Many types of bikes can do a fully supported tour,” but he recommends a road bike for a couple of reasons. “A road bike will have a drop handlebar that will not only allow you to change positions, but will also help you get the most efficiency out of the bike.” A road bike’s narrow wheels, smooth tires, and range of gearing are the features needed for riding on mountain highways.
Robinson doesn’t recommend a mountain bike but says a performance hybrid could do the job. He has this caution, though, “You’ll only have one position that you can ride in.” Being able to change positions, as you can on a road bike, is an important comfort feature when you’ll be on your bike for several hours at a time.
Does My Bike Have the Gears I’ll Need?
You’ll want a bike with a wide range of gears for steep climbs and descents, says Robinson. “Most touring bikes will have a hybrid type crank, the front gears, with a 26 tooth small ring and a 48 tooth big ring, with a cassette on the back that’s 11-32 teeth or 11-36 teeth. That’s one of the widest ranges that you’ll be able to get on most bikes.”
While road bikes generally come with a 34 – 50 crank, which is pretty wide, if hill climbing scares you, you may want to make some changes. “You can switch your gear ratios up, but you may need to change derailleurs and even shifters,” Robinson suggests, “so consult with your local shop to see if you can go for wider gear ratios.”
What accessories will I need to carry on my bike?
I recommend installing the following accessories on your bike:
- 2 water bottle cages with 2 water bottles
- A small portable pump holder and pump
- A saddle bag that attaches under your seat to hold a few spare tubes, tire levers and a patch kit
And for optional accessories, you might also want to attach:
- Front and rear flashing lights to make you more visible
- A speedometer or GPS style device
What if my bike needs repairs while on tour?
Our fully equipped and enclosed Mountain Madness Tours trailer carries basic replacement parts and tools and I’m happy to do whatever repairs become necessary while on tour. However, I may not have specialized or unique replacement components or very specific tools required for more complicated repairs. If you are bringing your own bike I strongly recommend that you take it to your local bike shop for a thorough pre-tour inspection.
Don’t have a road or hybrid bike of your own or worried about travelling with your bike?
If you don’t have a road bike, that’s not a problem. We have a fleet of new Felt road bicycles available for rent that are perfect for your tour.
Our rental bikes will come complete with all the above items, except the speedometer / GPS device. Our rental bikes come with regular flat pedals so that you can use normal shoes. If you have clip in shoes, you’ll want to bring them with you along with your pedals and we can attach them to the bike when you arrive.
Another common reason for renting a bike from us rather than bringing your own is to save the hassle of travelling with your bike. When travelling with your bike you’ll have to trust your pride and joy to the airlines, rent or purchase a bike box and do some disassembly and reassembly to your bike multiple times during your holiday which can be a time consuming exercise. Another factor to consider is, Are you doing some sightseeing before or after your bike tour with us? If so, you’ll want to think about how you will go about moving your bike around before and after the tour. By renting a bike from us, you’ll be able to arrive free and easy and at the end of your tour, hand the bike over to us and carry on to your next destination with minimal fuss.
If you’re worried about your fitness levels or you’d like to join a tour with your partner but don’t think you’d be able to keep up with them, we also have an E-bike available for rent.
See our recent blog post about E-Bikes here.