With nearly 900 km between Saint-Brevin-les-Pin and Cuffy, the La Loire à Vélo route challenges cycle tourists every year. To ensure you have a good experience, here are a few tips to prevent and reduce aches and pains that you may have during your journey.
Choose your bike seat carefully
Not all bike seats are created equal! It is important to buy one that is adapted to your body and your type of bike-riding. A bad seat will heat up and lead to chafing, which will cause unpleasant pain when on a long ride.
For a leisure bike, the ideal seated position is with your body inclined between 30 and 60°, as opposed to horizontal. Unlike competitive cycling, where flat seats are preferred to limit thigh chafing, an intermediate seat is an excellent choice for La Loire à Vélo: the back of the seat is wider and provides support for your hips. Note that women should opt for a wider seat.
Check the set-up
Check your seat height, angle and symmetry, as well as for the handlebars. To find the right height for your seat, your leg should be fully extended when your heel is on the pedal (and the knee slightly bent when your toe is on it). Your knee should also be aligned with the pedal.
For the handlebars, it is perfectly fine to set them at the same height as the seat for a leisurely ride like La Loire à Vélo.
Padded cycling shorts
These shorts have protecting padding at the crotch, known as a chamois. This part drastically reduces leg chafing as well as aches and pains caused by the weight of our body on the seat. This useful item of clothing is an excellent investment for cycle tourists. Note – you shouldn’t wear underwear with these shorts!
Your position on the bike
Once you have set up your bike correctly, the next thing to do is to check your posture, to ensure that your bike ride is an enjoyable experience! To protect your back as much as possible, make sure that you keep your spine in its natural position. This will avoid pain and fatigue.
On the handlebars, your fingers are also working harder than you might think. So, to avoid pins and needles, loss of sensation and other unpleasant numbness, be careful of the position of your hands on the handlebars. Don’t hold them too tightly, keep your wrists loose, and you’ll avoid these kinds of unpleasant sensations.
It’s a good idea to go on a few practice rides before hopping on your bike to do La Loire à Vélo. This will help you both adjust your bike’s set-up, which is extremely important as we mentioned, but also get some training in. Alternate between long and short rides, depending on the stages that you have planned for the route.
Enjoy your ride on La Loire à Vélo!