How to Plan a Long Distance Cycling Trip

Photo by Simon Barnes

The UK has some amazing scenery. You could explore in a car, but the problem with driving everywhere is that you miss so much. Bike tours are completely different. Exploring on two wheels lets you see things you would ordinarily miss if you were whizzing past at 55mph. It’s an altogether gentler way of seeing some of the most beautiful parts of our green and pleasant land. So if you fancy organising a bike ride around one of the more scenic parts of the UK, what’s involved?

Choose the Right Location

Irrespective of where you would like to explore, take note of the local terrain and decide whether your bike riding skills are up to the task. For example, the Lake District is beautiful, but it’s also very hilly in parts, so unless you are pretty fit, the trip might be the death of you. Always cater for the weakest member of your group, and plan a route accordingly. And if you are not all super fit, make sure you don’t create an itinerary that’s too taxing.

Organise Accommodation

If you are cycling all day, you will need somewhere comfortable to sleep at night. Camping is an option if the weather is good, but this involves carrying a lot of kit, so unless you have a backup vehicle to transport all your gear during the day, it isn’t feasible. Another option is to stay in B&Bs, but make sure you book ahead during the busy months and always check that there is somewhere secure to store your bikes overnight. Lastly, a good option for small groups is to hire a camper van and talk a friend or relative into being the backup driver. That way you won’t have to carry everything on the bikes.

Bike Storage

Without a backup vehicle to transport all of your gear, you will need some panniers or similar for spare changes of clothes, snacks, and anything else you are going to need for your trip. Bike panniers can be fixed on to any type of bicycle. More expensive models simply clip on and off, which makes it easy to remove at the end of the day.

A Roadworthy Bicycle

It should go without saying that your bike needs to be in a roadworthy condition if you are planning a long distance cycling trip. If yours is a wreck, get it serviced before you set off on your trip. If necessary, borrow or buy a replacement.

Risk Management

Always carry a mobile phone with you when out on the bike. You may need to call for help if your bike breaks down or you take a tumble. A phone charging app could be useful in this regard. Make sure you carry a puncture repair kit, some spare inner tubes, energy gels, and a first aid kit. Oh yes, and some waterproofs!

Cycling trips are enormous fun, although they do tend to be more enjoyable if you are reasonably fit. But if you’re not that fit yet, don’t despair. With a few weeks training you could easily manage a long weekend away, exploring on a bike. So what are you waiting for? Get cycling!