Be prepared for riding in Belgium. In the spring expect rain, chilly temps and brisk wind, and in the fall expect mild, sunny temps. Since you will be riding every day, weather permitting, most of your luggage will consist of bike clothes/gear. If you need more clothes it's a great excuse to buy another cycling t-shirt to add to your collection. Check the weather for Brussels before you leave to get a better idea of what to expect the week you will be there.
Items to pack on your bicycling trip to Belgium:
- Helmet (mandatory)
- Headband and/or warm hat
- Microfiber base layers
- Long and Short sleeve jerseys
- Vest or rain jacket
- Cycling gloves (full-fingered in spring)
- Padded bike shorts
- Arm warmers, leg warmers, knee warmers
- Knickers or tights
- Bike shoes and socks
- Shoe covers or booties
- Small daypack for the follow vehicle
- Jeans, pants, or shorts
- Warm jacket or a fleece sweatshirt
- Long and short sleeve shirts and sweaters
- Comfortable shoes for walking (and waiting for the race)
- Euros before leaving the country
- Supplements and energy bars
- Powdered energy drink mix (in a double ziploc bag to prevent spillage)
- Water bottles (minimum of two)
- Camera and batteries/memory cards
- Compact umbrella for watching races
Do you want to travel with your bike? Here's our best advice we have learned from traveling all over the world with our bikes.
Measure twice: Either with a permanent marker or electrical tape, mark the position of your seat height. Or, use a tape measure and write down the measurements. Also note the spacer arrangement on your stem so you can replicate it later.
Required Tools: Gather the tools you need to dismantle your bike; most likely 4, 5, and 6 millimeter wrenches along with a pedal wrench. After your bike is packed, wrap your tools in shop rags to prevent your frame from getting scratched and place them in your bike case. Some bike parts may require a unique tool, so make sure that you have the right tools with you to reassemble your bike when you arrive at your destination.
Use a bike box: To prevent damage, we recommend a hard shell case, but there are soft sided cases that can be used as well. If you have a buddy who can lend you a case, try borrowing one first. If not, make a trip to your local bike shop and inquire about renting one. Many bike shops will rent a case for your cycling vacation. Plan ahead and reserve one early. If you need to buy a case check with local bike shops or online retailers. There are many brands to choose from. It's a good idea to practice fitting your bike in the case to ensure everything fits properly. Also review airline policies for bike case sizes since regulations change frequently and each airline is very different. A few inches too big could mean your bike may be left at the airport.
Packing everything tight: We recommend putting your helmet and cycling shoes in with your regular luggage in case your bike gets lost in flight. This allows you to ride during your cycling vacation, on a rented bike, without interrupting your itinerary. However we do recommend putting certain items in with your bike; powdered sports drink, extra tubes and tires, tools required to reassemble your bike, etc. Do not pack CO2 cartridges in with your bike. They could explode and damage your bike.
Expect an inspection: The TSA often inspects bike cases. Be prepared for an inspection and make it easy for them to repack the contents of your bike case after an inspection.
Every traveler to Belgium will need a valid passport to enter and leave the country. If you need to update or apply for one please allow 8-10 weeks prior to trip departure for the process.A visa is not required for stays of less than 90 days.
Belgium and France (and most of Europe) use the Euro as their currency. Normally the exchange rate is better if you get Euros before you leave the US. If you need to buy food or supplies immediately at the airport when you arrive you will be prepared.
Terrific training tips from your trip leader:
For complete training guidance we strongly recommend a coach. The best way to train is by riding. Ride a couple of times a week if possible, take indoor spinning classes, ride your trainer, and just put time in the saddle.
We will be covering 150- 200 miles in cool weather over the course of the whole trip, so you should prepare for this by doing at least a few rides outside in the cold at home. You should also be prepared for a big 6-8 hour ride on one day. For example here is the training one of our lead guides will do:
"...I will get ready for this by riding the trainer indoors (or a spin class) twice a week and a long 4-5 hour ride on the weekends. As we are traveling in April, I would be well into this program at the end of Feburary. Prior to March I would be attending at least one spin class (or indoor trainer session) and 2-3 hours outside on the weekends..." John C, trip leader
If you don’t have the time for the long rides on the weekends, you can certainly replace that with effort. The spin classes we attend in Boulder also provide quite a bit of effort but have to admit that the indoor trainer is a time for easier spinning. Studies have shown 30 minutes of intervals (1 on 2 off) is the same as 2 hours steady riding.
The best part of training is the recovery phase! Make sure to stretch after every winter ride. A good night’s sleep after a hard workout is very important to realizing gains from the effort. Perhaps the week before traveling to join us you can skip one or two workouts to make sure you are fresh.
A 39-24 (or 39-25) should be used for the most comfort as the hills are short but steep! Even when riding cobblestones you will still enjoy a road bike.
Please be prepared to change a flat (ie, tubes & pump) as you would at home. Do yourself a favor and put new tires and tubes on prior to departure. Get a tune-up before the trip to make sure your bike is in top working condition.
Bike Rental in Belgium
To travel, or not to travel with your bike? There are several factors that play into this question. If you would rather not pay airline surcharges and oversize bag fees, you may be interested in renting a road bike to use for your tour. If you would like to reserve a road bike please contact us with your current make/model and size you ride, and we will send you a quote.