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This text deals with …
1. Weather considerations.
2. Joys of biking.
4. Meeting the locals.
5. Beware of thieves.
6. Follow the rules.
A. If you want to see Europe on $45 a day you might prefer to stay at hostels and shop at farmers’ markets, but you definitely will not be able to do it without the help of a bike as it is one of the most economical ways to see Europe. But most bikers choose to pedal for the sheer joy of it. Just imagine riding up a beautiful mountain road, going to the very top, hearing birds singing in the treetops, and enjoying a well-earned and glorious downhill run.
B. The most important thing to do before you go for a long ride is to learn which tools to bring for basic repair work, such as patching a flat. If possible, first take a weekend camping trip with everything you’ll need with you. If you don’t already know how to fix your bike, you can ask about classes at your local bike shop. Although you can buy a good touring bike in Europe, you’re better off bringing a bike that you’re sure is the right fit for you as well as your own racks and panniers.
C. Expect rain and bring good bikers’ rain equipment. You’ll also be exposed to the sun, so plan on using plenty of sunscreen. Even if you never ride at night, you should bring a back light for long and unavoidable tunnels. Always wear a helmet as well as biking gloves to guard against unsightly road rash. Beware of the silent biker who might be right behind you, and use hand signals before stopping or turning. Stay off the freeways; smaller roads are nicer for biking, anyway.
D. Use a bike lock to secure your bike and never leave your pump, bag or laptop on your bike if you’re going to step away, even for a moment. Keep your bike inside whenever possible. At hostels, ask if there is a locked bike room, and, if not, ask for a place to put your bike inside overnight. Remember that hotels and many pensions don’t really have rules against taking a bike up to your room. It is advised just to do it quietly so the owners and other guests aren’t disturbed.
E. The most rewarding aspect of bicycling in Europe is having the chance to get to know and communicate with new people. Europeans love bicycles, and they are often genuinely impressed when they see a tourist who rejects the view from a tour-bus window in favor of riding through their country on two wheels. Your bike provides an instant topic for conversation, the perfect bridge over cultural and language barriers.
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