US-born video film maker Christopher Strong has picked up miles and miles of experience during his Bicycle Gourmet's Treasures of France tour, and here he offers some tips and advice on making sure your own adventures run smoothly.
1. It’s obvious, but needs to be said, buy the best bike you can afford. Best meaning light, strong, comfortable, low maintenance, parts available everywhere.
This is not a cost. This is an investment. This is your best travellin’ friend.
2. Get to know basic adjustments, like you know changing a tyre, adjusting the brakes before you set off.
Also, obviously, better to have your weight equally distributed.
4. Two water bottles are better than one, but don’t waste cash on the insulated-keeps-yer-stuff-cold-for hours ones. They don’t.
It is much better, and cheaper, to wrap your bottles in aluminium foil, put them in plastic bags to stop the foil from unravelling and store them in the fridge overnight. In the morning you will have cool water for hours.
5. Another essential is an insulted handlebar bag. If your items are cool, then wrapped in plastic, and/or a tee-shirt, they’ll stay that way for a good long while.
So know and respect your a, b, c of flats:
a. You will have them.
b. They will occur at the most inconvenient times. Like when you are starving, freezing having a pee in a force ten gale.
c. Most of them will be in the rear, because that’s where the weight is.
7. Listening to music while you cycle is big no-no in my book. The idea, folks, is that nature provides the music.
The birds, the wind through the trees, rustling leaves and in the south of France the music of the insects. Although,admittedly, the 'song' of the cigales should be considered only as background ambience.
Be warned. Should you be foolish enough to shun the Bicycling Gourmet's advice, and descend a steep, unknown route at supersonic speed with your Walkman cranked to 10 it will slightly lessen your chances of hearing the Kenworth diesel that is approaching (at supersonic speed also) the blind corner at the bottom?
Does the phrase "hamburger helper" conjure up an image or two for you here?
8. Caution! And in my definition it is a non-locational habit. It gives you two important things: peace of mind and a bicycle.
So, two locks everywhere all the time. One through the front frame/wheel the other through the back. Locked to something. Excessive? Subjective, dear reader. Subject to how many bicycles you've had stolen by NOT being cautious.
Other articles by Christopher:
Tales from the bicycling gourmet's table
Cycling around the treasures of France
Baby steps towards a French baptism
Taking a tour of Chateau la Verrerie
The Pope of biodynamic wine
US-born video film maker Christopher Strong produced the Bicycle Gourmet's Treasures of France tour, which fulfilled his dream of cycling around the country visiting interesting places and meeting entertaining characters.