Whether you are cycling for charity, fun, a training ride or commuting it’s important to plan your cycling routes. Planning can make the difference between cycling on a dangerous road amongst thick traffic, and a pleasant journey with no traffic. As a bike you have so much more flexibility than a car and you will really reap the benefits if you do a little homework and have a route.
In the UK we are very lucky to have the Sustrans country-wide national cycle network, marked by blue signs. The routes are fantastic for leisurely routes as well as commuting runs, and the map can be purchased from their website for just £1 (sustrans.org). Local councils and forestry commissions also often have good cycle route maps.
When planning your ride, you can pick a mix of roads, public bridleways and dedicated cycle paths. A variety will keep things interesting and give your training different intensities as you go around your route.
Whether you’re training or commuting, once you’ve figured out your route, test it out to see how far it is and how long it will take. If you have a GPS watch this is a great way to track where you have been and your times. If not, there are lots of smartphone apps out there that can do the same thing. Time yourself, and then you can work to improve your time, or increase your distance as your training progresses.
If you’re cycling to work, depending on how far away it is you could think about planning a long version and a short version to incorporate additional training when you have time. Be flexible, adapt your route as you get to know the roads and see where other cyclists are going. Parks and rivers make lovely additions to routes and often get you off the road altogether.
Cycling is a great way to see the country, so why not take your bike with you when you next go away and get out to explore?