Plan a bike ride this summer for an adventure in your local area
In my early days of cycling adventures, I rarely had time to plan a bike ride properly. I’d sup a pint down the pub with Ade and he’d say the magic words; ‘I’ve found a nice hill over yonder.’
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from Ade about how to plan a bike ride. In this article, we’ll explore the basic principles to plan a bike ride for maximum enjoyment.
A doorstep adventure
There’s been a popular movement towards local adventures. Since the recent spate of lockdowns, folks have taken to exploring the first few miles from their doorstep.
I’ve particularly enjoyed my old Uni friend, Carrie, the Doorstep Explorer. Taking the concept a little further, popular blogger and adventurer, Al Humphreys, has written a book* about his exploration of the map square of his own neighbourhood.
Ask Google: ‘bike ride near me’
This principle in cycling is a perfect starting point to plan a bike ride. Use a simple Google search to ask ‘where is the best bike ride near me?’.
LIkely Google will make suggestions based on your locality and the network of surroundings cycle paths. There’s usually a bike trail nearby and this is a great place to begin a bike ride.
Plan a bike ride like a pro
A keen bike rider knows that the best bike rides take place off the beaten track, away from traffic, somewhere green. Plan your bike ride like a pro and look for a local landmark as a strategic marker.
In the past, Ade and I have created loops around a key geographical feature such as a hill or a lake. These natural elements lend the ride a purpose beyond the obvious energetic expenditure for a balanced cycling experience.
Enjoy the view
Traditionally, our Mash-Up and District bike rides have started and ended with a climb. It’s a Really Big Bike Ride custom. While it can be hard on the thighs, the view from the top is nearly always worth the effort.
There are many UK cycling routes that include hills. With rare exceptions such as East Anglia, the British Isles are particularly hilly. It’s a sure way to get the heart pumping and the blood flowing.
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Songs for a bike ride
I myself in particular enjoy riding along to the sound of music. I have a snazzy portable Bluetooth speaker* that blasts out the tunes direct from my smartphone. When I plan a bike ride I tend to make a juicy playlist to accompany me.
While I do love the peace and quiet of being alone in the woods I find that a few choice records help energise my legs later in the day.
Things said on the road
Ade and I have a selection of bike ride quotations we like to wheel out while riding. After a meal, Ade loves the saying ‘just what the doctor ordered’.
In the early years of my cycling career, I was a young punk and a bit gobby with it. Oftentimes in the local pub, I’d invite folks to ‘feel my legs,’ after a few pints of ale. Happily, I’ve outgrown this tactile phase.
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Eat first, think later
Another of our favourite cycle touring phrases and philosophical musings is this mantra, ‘eat first, think later.’ This is important to remember when planning a bike ride because hunger is the enemy of enjoyment.
Generally speaking, if you’re hungry or thirsty on a bike ride, it’s already too late.
This is one of the key tenets of the Mash-Up and District Cycling Club philosophy. Riders must agree to this first rule of engagement ahead of any planned ride.
Self-sufficiency is the name of the game when it comes to a bike ride of any length. Like any good boy scout, being prepared and ready for any eventuality is essential. In cycling terms that means having necessary tools and equipment to repair the bike in the event of mishap or folly.
When I cycled around the world (sort of), I had most of what I needed but not everything I could have taken. I didn’t for example have a chain whip (the tool required for removing the cassette from the rear wheel).
I managed to fudge a method with a local Vietnamese mechanic but it was clunky and nearly ruined the spokes. A cheeky smile and can help you wing it so far but it’s far better to carry the correct kit.
Will you plan a bike ride this summer? Share your stories in the comments below: