In two months, The Mechanic and I will be in Zurich, about to start the bike tour part of our honeymoon. <Squee> I’m so excited!
But I’m also an obsessive compulsive list maker, so yes, I have my travel packing list already started. I’m trying to make sure that I take the fewest things possible while still having the basics covered. How can I live out of a small-ish bag for three weeks?! I think I have everything mostly figured out, but I still need to decide a few things – what bike accessories will I/we really need?
I decided that I want a large travel backpack, instead of my suitcase, for this trip, but not one of those “I’m going to be out on the Appalachian Trail for a month” type packs. I found one on the REI website, and Sunday The Mechanic and I went to check it out in person. The REI Grand Tour 80 Travel Pack was practically designed with me in mind! Initially attracted to it because of the color, capacity, and detachable smaller bag, seeing it in person confirmed my preference for it. It unzips on the top, on three sides, so it opens like a suitcase, rather than the drawstring on the top that you have to shove everything into. There are stability straps to hold things down, plus mesh zip side pockets on the inside. I love pockets. It also comes with a cover that doubles as a duffel, so I can complete enclose it when I check it on the airplane. Although I tried a few other packs on, this is the one I’ll end up getting. I’m pretty sure I can fit everything in this… So now the trickier part – what bike accessories do I take? Do I take a bike helmet? Will I need or want gloves? Will I need padded bike shorts?! Although the bike tour provides bicycles and panniers, helmets are not provided; unsurprisingly, they are recommended. I can’t decide if I want to look “European,” ie, no helmet, or be “safe” and wear a helmet. Obviously, I’ll have to pack it, which brings me to the next dilemma – the vented “roadie” bike helmet, or my cute silver glitter Nutcase helmet? The vented one is possibly flatter, so it might be easier to pack, but I only wear it on my road bike. I certainly don’t want to wear it in Germany, Switzerland or Austria. Or Belgium or the Netherlands, for that matter, if we rent bikes there.
The gloves question is probably not a big deal – they are small enough to pack and never use. But the padded bike shorts, well, that’s another story. Our tour is only five actual days of long distance biking, but the mileage is not that great – 20 miles max per day. That’s really not that far, and I don’t anticipate that we’ll bike the full distance in one fell swoop, but rather, stopping along the way. On the other hand, it’s five days in a row – will we get sore butts?! And if I decide to wear them, well, I only have one pair, and I’m not honestly keen on the idea of wearing the same pair five days in a row… Again, I guess I can take them, but if I don’t end up wearing them, they are somewhat bulky to drag around for another two weeks afterwards. (And there is no question about the fact that I will be wearing skirts and dresses over said padded bike shorts. And normal shoes.)
I also found a dress at REI that I have decided needs to go on the trip with me. The Novara Whittier Bike Dress is made for biking! Actually, I think they copied me, since it has reflective piping in the back yoke seam! Haha! But it’s really cute, and looks great on, and will no doubt be easy to pack. I plan on needing some slightly dressier options, so this could do nicely. (Until I visit one of my favorite German department stores, C&A, and buy some fun stuff there!)
So I’m asking you – what experiences have you had biking in Europe, and what would you recommend regarding taking or not taking a helmet?