Last year I had the idea of cycling through the Scottish Highlands. Cycling is becoming an ever popular type of holiday – it’s a great way to travel and experience more places in a shorter space of time and unlike being stuck in a car it allows you to fully imerse yourself in the country.
If you have a keen interest in wildlife cycling is a great way to see more. The Highlands have a huge variety of habitats including the lochs, glens and surrounding forests which are home to the birds, otters and even the elusive red squirell and cycling allows you to slow down and stand a better chance of spotting them.
Even if you don’t own a bike this doesn’t have to stop you – many companies have bikes which they can rent to you, from a couple of hours to several days – a quick internet search before you leave will guarantee there is availability for you!
Here’s a few handy items that I would definitely recommend taking with you:
1 Cycling shorts
If you are on the saddle for a long period of time several days in a row it is inevitable that you will become sore, I was definitely glad to have some padding to help!
2 Gel Seat
Again this helps to provide cushioning, contributing to a more comfortable ride. Many are made from memory foam which help to reduce the impact of vibrations from the bike and fit exactly to your saddle. You can purchase these from bike shops and other places such as Ebay
3 Snacks and energy drinks
Whilst exercising for an extended period of time it’s important to keep your sugar levels up and energy drinks are great at doing this. Snacks such as cereal bars will sustain you for a while and sweets can be a great pick me up if you suddenly find yourself struggling. Bear in mind that if you are cycling somewhere remote like the Highlands cafes and lunch stops are quite rare and are guaranteed to be miles away when you’re feeling peckish so having a few options to eat for lunch is always a great idea!
4 Bottle of water
As well as consuming energy drinks it’s so important to stay hydrated and keep drinking, even if it’s cold. Cycling with a headache is not going to be a fun experience!
5 A way to navigate
Researching possible routes before you set off can help minimise the chances of getting lost, however it can be fun heading out into a new place and seeing what you discover. Regardless of which approach you decide to take it’s always good to have a back up plan just incase. If you’re in the countryside your data isn’t always going to work. One option is a GPS unit or app. You can download routes using WiFi before you head off and then look at them without any need to be connected to the internet. Of course there’s always the good old fashioned method of using a paper map!
6 Clothing for the weather
Make sure you come prepared for all types of weather, with everything from sunglasses to finger less gloves and a light waterproof coat. This will help ensure you are as comfortable as possible whilst cycling. Another handy item to pack is a cover for your saddle incase you have to leave your bike outside for a short while in the rain.
7 Small rucksack or pannier
You will definitely need to bring a small bag so you can easily carry all your essential items. If you don’t have a lot a pannier may be easier as it won’t move around as much or weigh you down.
8 Puncture repair kit
An absolute must. I had the misfortune to have a puncture halfway along Loch Ness and you definitely need a way to be able to repair it as well as having a spare inner tube handy.
Always a travel essential to capture those incredible views
If like me you’re rather clumsy plasters are bound to come in useful along with wipes and hand sanitizer. And depending on the location and season a bug or midge spray can be handy if spending a long time outdoors
After all “A bicycle ride around the world begins with a single pedal stoke” – Professor Scott Stoll