Here are some tops tips which should help if you are thinking about planning a cycle ride. You can find a list of all the BCG pre-ridden and approved routes here.
Where can I cycle? - The Highway Code allows you to cycle on all public roads apart from motorways. You may also ride on designated Cycle Tracks and Cycle Lanes. Some By-Ways and even Bridleways may also be suitable. You must not ride on the pavement or designated footpaths.
General guidelines - Although you’re allowed on all roads apart from motorways, there are many roads that should be avoided. This advice particularly applies to hilly or undulating main roads where your speed will be significantly lower than other traffic and you may be obscured by the crests and dips in the road.
Roads with numerous junctions and traffic lights can be frustrating to train on and make holding a consistent pace difficult. If you are riding laps, riding in an anti-clockwise direction, so you are predominately making left turns at junctions, is a good idea.
Try to avoid roads that regularly have cars double parked. Especially in residential areas children or animals can suddenly run out and you can end up with very little room or time to take evasive action. You can easily be forced into the path of oncoming traffic or you can suddenly find a car door opening in front of you.
Although excellent for recreational riding, shared Cycle Tracks are not suitable or safe for faster paced training. Pedestrians will not be expecting fast moving cyclists, and hazards such as dog leads across the track make them potentially dangerous for you and other users.
Different routes for different sessions – Decide what sort of ride you want. It might be an easy flat route, a hilly route to test your stamina or an off road route to avoid the traffic. Consider the ability of those you are riding with when making your choice.
Consider the weather and terrain – You may have a time consideration to think about. Fifty miles of flat riding will take a lot less time than the same distance in the hills. It can be hard if you are fairly new to cycling to judge how long a route will take so consider shorter repeated loops or simple out and back rides until you get an idea of the pace you are able to ride at.
Along with hills, road surfaces can also significantly affect your speed. Another massive variable is the weather, especially the wind. Be aware of this, especially if you are planning an out and back ride, as you can easily find yourself flying out with a tailwind and then taking more than double the time to struggle back into a headwind.
Check the weather forecast before heading out on any ride and adjust your route according to the conditions. Avoid high and exposed routes if strong winds are forecasted and, if there is a cold snap, smaller untreated roads will be more susceptible to icy patches.
Mix it up - Although it is important to be able to replicate sessions for testing and to gauge your progress, riding the same roads repeatedly will quickly become boring. This can easily cause you to lose motivation. Whenever possible, try to explore new routes.
Using technology - GPS and digital mapping technology means that planning, sharing and navigating routes has never been easier. This is especially useful if you are riding in a new area as you can just find a route, download it onto your GPS device and ride away.
Technology might be brilliant but batteries do run out and units occasionally fail. If you are blindly following a GPS and this happens, you can easily find yourself very lost. A back up map of the area could be useful and keep an eye out for village and town names so that you can easily locate yourself. A map will also allow you to re-plan or adjust your route if you find you need to cut your ride short or even extend it.
Café stop – Most longer rides include a café stop. Think about that in your route planning. Quite commonly these are at a central point on the ride and often the route main destination. When considering a café stop, it might be wise to call ahead to make sure they are cycle friendly. Here is a list of our regular cafe stops.