This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.
Having a cyclometer can help to keep from getting lost. A cyclometer that can
be switched to kilometers (standard unit of distance in Europe) is a big plus.
Also, I like having an altimeter function as well. On the big passes it really
helps me to know how much climbing I have done and how much I have left before
The synthetic material used in Federal Express envelopes, called Tyvek, makes
great thin, lightweight tire boots. Cut them to fit the size of your patch kit
"Fiber Fix" makes an inexpensive kit for use in an emergency to replace a broke
If you are going to begin and end your trip from the same destination, you can
bring extra clothes for the flight over and the flight back which can be stored
in your bike box while you are on your tour.
The "going light" method does not leave much room in your bike bag for momentos
or gifts. However, if you find something you really like, it is quite easy and
not expensive to mail the item back home. Most post offices sell an assortment
of boxes so finding the correct size is easy. Also, if the item is valuable,
I would suggest sending it air mail. For smaller, more valuable items like
film I put everything in one or two well-sealed plastic bags before placing it
in the box. That way, if the box somehow springs a small leak, you won't lose
that one roll of film wth the killer photos.
I would recommend a good set of brakes, some of the descents are long, steep
and quite tricky with off camber and decreasing radius turns, usually
accompanied by lack of guard rail. Make sure your brakes are working well!
For gearing a 39x26 or 39x28 seem to be a reasonable low gear for the sustained
climbing in the Alps. Some people prefer triple front chainrings. Your mileag
TIPS WHILE ON THE ROAD
This section deals with the basic trip details, road conditions, weather, food,
hotels, changing money.
The yellow Michelin regional maps are the best. There is so much detail, it
is almost impossible to get lost. Having the elevation of the towns helps
plan out the climbs and having the different types of roads(see below) marked
out helps me stay off the more heavily traveled arteries. The Michelins are
only available for France, Switzerland and, parts of Italy. Also, note that
these maps now bear a date(on the back at the bottom) as to when they were last
updated, get the latest version. The yellow maps are in 1cm:2km (1/200000)
Michelin is now making green regional maps that are 1cm:1km (1/100000) scale
and are much more detailed than the standard yellow maps. They are also more
expensive and larger which makes them great for pre-planning a route before you
leave home but maybe a bit too bulky for taking with you on your trip. These
maps are also date labeled and have numbers in the 100-200 range.
For Italy, I would recommend the Touring Club Italiano (TCI) maps, they are
almost as good as the Michelins and come in 1cm:2km (1/200000) scale.
Also recommended are the Institut Geographique National(IGN) maps, which are
marked with contour lines. There are three flavors green is 1cm:1km, red is
1cm:2.5km, and blue is somewhat finer than the green (blue is usually used by