25 Ways to Get On Your Bike More
Do you think a lot about getting your bike onto the road but never actually do it? If so, I know how you feel. If I sit around any more this winter I’m going to become part of the furniture and I swear my bike has grown cobwebs. So I’ve researched a few ideas to help us both get some fresh air and get cycling this Spring…
Turn good intentions into action
Hey you! Yes you, the one with the good intentions. Your tyres may be flat. You might need a whole bunch of bananas in your shorts to cope with saddle soreness. But the snowdrops are out. The daffodils are in a queue behind them. And the cheese counter has seen too much of you lately…
How about we make a pact to get out on two wheels for the next few weeks? For a little extra incentive I’ve put together a 25 point plan. Feel free to pick and mix; if you do all 25 then let me know and I will quite possibly send you a medal.
1 Join a Breeze ride
This girl can cycle; and so many are. Breeze rides are participation rides run by women for women, and since 2011, a cool 200,000 women have attended one of these free guided rides. But British Cycling is even more ambitious; the target is to get a million women riding by 2020. “Breeze is one of our most successful programmes” says British Cycling’s Recreation Operations Manager Craig Myers. “People turn up asking if they are good enough to cycle five miles, and it’s surprising how many then go on to cycle fifty mile rides.”
2 Train up the kids
British Cycling also has a clubs, coaching and competition programme for young people. Children under 18 can join one of 350 Go Ride clubs in the UK, which provide half a million opportunities to ride each year. It’s healthy fun but also a chance for talented children to get noticed and developed; aparently 85 per cent of Team GB riders came from the Go Ride clubs including cycling’s star couple Jason and Laura. Some clubs are more specific than others; offering the chance to do things like BMX or speedway. Meanwhile the Go Ride Go initiative focuses on skills for children ages 18 months to eight years and has lots of tips and activities for younger family members.
3 Use Strava and mapping apps
Strava is the ultimate distraction for those on the road to fitness. You can follow and record your route on the app, and share it with fellow cyclists. And along the way you’ll forget you even climbed a hill. Even better you can draw little pictures with your bike and print them out at leisure. We drew a heart shape in the Lake District. And then we made a video of it. Take a look at it here…
4 Research the best routes – or the most appropriate ones for you
There are many ways to find out some of the best bike routes near you. SUSTRANS national cycle network has an excellent website stuffed with maps and directions. And the Let’s Ride website has a section on traffic free rides. Plug your postcode into either and you’ll be offered a selection of routes near you.
5 Plan a route around a tea shop
If a route doesn’t have a tea shop then it’s no fun as far as I’m concerned. Most established trails offer refreshments and sometimes they are a little unexpected. The Monsal trail has a secret tea garden at Millers Dale Station. On Windermere’s Western Shore Cycle Trail you can stop and have coffee on the terrace of Low Wray Castle. Stuart loves tea shops so much he took Hannah on a tour based around them in the Yorkshire Dales. If you want to do the same tour I’m sure my daughter will give you directions.
6 Get cycling at a pop up event near you
‘Let’s Ride’ pop up events popped up around various places in the UK last year following the pilot event in Leeds. There are now plans to expand the monthly, free events, and you’ll be able to borrow cycling equipment and chat with British Cycling Go-Ride coaches, local Ride Leaders and Breeze Champions.
Or look for a pop up ride on holiday; we’ve stumbled across them in Germany and if you happen to be in Abu Dhabi, one of our favourite rides is an evening tootle around the Yas Marina F1 track.
7 Plan a long distance tour
If you’ve never tried touring, don’t be put off by logistics and distances. Choose an easy ride and work up from there. One of the gentlest we have tried is the flat Velodysee path in France although our kids all cut their cycling teeth in Holland. The Rhine in Germany provides brilliant, flat, traffic free cycling that can last for a couple of weeks if you take it slowly, and there are loads of camping opportunities. Lately we’ve been eyeing up the Hebrides Islands for a future tour. You can also do greats tours in Wales (Celtic Way) and Northern Ireland (Lagan and Lough cycle route.)
8 Get some cycle skills
Surveys often show the biggest barrier to people getting on the road on a bike is safety fears. You can reassure yourself by sorting out some Bikeability safety training from your local bike shop, cycle centre or cycle café. Or if punctures put you off, prepare yourself for the road with a bike maintenance course; several of the UK’s most popular cycle cafes offer days combining food and learning, or a guided ride.
9 Adopt a cycle café at home or abroad
Speaking of which, one of the modern joys of cycling is the cycle café. These come in every size and flavour from tiny hubs to huge zoned shops on different floors where you can buy the latest kit. If you are visiting alone they often have a shared table where people swap stories and maps. Check out the European cycle cafe feature I wrote for Lonely Planet for ideas on the best caffeine fixies.
10 Go to a festival or race
Cycling festivals are fun and fantastical and full of challenge. Last year Eastbourne Cycling Festival offered penny farthing races and a cosmic caravan. Bristol Cycle Festival offered cycle-in cinema, a bicycle ballet and a vintage velo ride. The Brompton World Championship offers you the chance to see fold up bike racing action. And then of course there are the famous tours of France and Britain.
11 Work it into your commute
Did someone say Brompton? If you buy a fold up bicycle you can work a bike ride into your commute and save yourself money. Cycling week recently pulled together an article on the best fold up bikes for 2018. You might even be like the characters in TV’s W1A and start a craze for fold ups in the office.
12 Attend a city ride
Look out for city rides where the roads are closed. You can find these in many countries, and many counties in the UK – last year cyclists took over fourteen cities including Birmingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh. Traffic free, hassle free pedal power! Keep an eye out for news of this year’s events on the Let’s Ride city page.
13 Hire a turbo electric bike
Hate hills? If they are putting you off, try a turbo charge. We hired some powerful machines in Zillertal, Austria that meant we didn’t even feel the need to take the ski lift to the top of the mountain. Only problem was, getting back on an ordinary bike afterwards became a chore.
14 Be a goodie
If you get bored on two wheels, try four or more. In Ostend we hired a six man bike/cart and bombed along the prom, narrowly missing sculptures and beach huts, and even had a go at biking on the sand. In Italy this summer, people paraded past on bicycles for four with little striped roofs. Borrow a tandem or a triplet from a friend. You’re never going to win a race on a goodie bike, but you will have a laugh..
15 Join a club
If you can’t beat the serious cyclists then maybe you should join them. And you might find they aren’t any more serious than you are. Many clubs have a least one social ride a week with a tea shop visit as well as the hard core road rides. Start small and work up.
16 Get your bike out of the shed
This may sound obvious but it’s worth including. If your bike is in the shed, you can’t see it and you are more likely to forget it’s there. Get it out and put it somewhere in front of your nose. In the hall, in the garden, in your bed if you need to. Attach a pannier filled with puncture repair kit, lock and some small change for treats. You are ready my friend. Now go!…
17 Buy a bike
Don’t have a bike? There’s lots of advice online about how to buy one. Don’t have a bike for your kids? Check out our guide on how to buy one here.
18 Join a challenge ride
London to Brighton? The atmosphere will get you through if your legs don’t. Or ride in style in the Tweed Run in London. We undertook a challenge coastal ride in New Zealand we nicknamed the Big Sausage Ride because in two days all we ate was sausages. We came last, if you were wondering, but then I was the only one riding while pregnant and pulling a trailer.
19 Campaign for better cycling
There’s plenty of campaigning action going on around the UK if you fancy getting involved. Keep an eye on campaigns by Cycling UK and SUSTRANS. Meanwhile British Cycling has bike lanes on its radar this year; did you know that only the UK, Malta and Hong Kong give cars right of way over pedestrians?
20 Watch a bike race
At Manchester’s National Cycle centre you can see a whole evening of cycle racing for around £10. We attended the UK National Track Cycling Championships and watched people whizz by at lightening speed. While we ate burger and chips. I felt there was something wrong there, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it…
21 Train to be a Durney Rider
If you like going round and round an indoor track then you can train to be a Durney rider in Manchester. That’s the little moped that leads the way in the Keirin rides. For some of us, it’s the only way we are ever going to beat a cycling professional. You can also have a go on the velodrome track on a racing bike in regular taster sessions.
22 Get cycling on snow
If you are in a ski resort this winter, try Fat Tire biking..on snow. The super grippy tyres mean you will only wobble for the first few minutes. If you visit Le Grand Bornand in the French Alps you can also try ski velo – special bikes with a ski at the front. They even have brakes!
23 Pick up some mountain biking skills
If you think you might like mountain biking but aren’t brave enough to face a mountain just yet, try learning some skills in a safe environment. The MTB trails and skills zone just outside the National Cycling Centre has bumps, mounds and instructors. In the summer, many ski resorts can offer a guide, some tuition and a bike or e-bike. They also thankfully offer a ski lift to get you up the hill.
24 Take a Fat Tire Bike tour
A great way to see a city is on a guided tour. A fat Tire Bike tour offers an insight into the history of many European cities as well as a blast around the greener spaces. We took ours in Barcelona. Here’s our video of the day:
25 Watch a pedal powered movie
Look out for pedal powered biking cinemas. Bring the kids to do the work. Buy popcorn and relax knowing you are promoting healthy exercise. Then jump on the bike yourself to power the end the credits. You won’t get a credit of course but you’ll feel you are part of the movie industry.