Cycling has never been more popular and has just been given a fresh burst of publicity thanks to the drama of the on, and off, road cyclists at this summer’s hugely successful Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
September also sees the return of Cycle September, and the Cycle September Challenge: the world’s biggest group ride, aimed at getting more people riding bikes (https://bit.ly/3QyYPpb).
But whatever the time of year, or level of cycling skills, there are plenty of fantastic cycling tracks and trails up and down the nation.
So, for anyone interested in getting out and about enjoying countryside routes, urban trails, or even having a go at track cycling in a velodrome, here are a few top suggestions for great cycling spots from our destinations.
Go for Gold…
Inspired by Commonwealth Games mountain bike races at Staffordshire’s Cannock Chase Forest? It already offers world-class mountain biking, with cross-country courses like ‘Follow the Dog’ and ‘The Monkey Trail’, but new twists and turns were created for the Birmingham 2022 Games. Leaving a lasting cycling legacy, the trails – developed by Forestry England – not only provided top quality courses for elite mountain bikers but remain permanent attractions for visitors. Any cyclist can experience the thrills of tackling the same off-road challenging courses raced by the medal-chasing international athletes. Among them is a new Pedal and Play Trail, a mountain bike adventure for children aged 3-11 years. https://bit.ly/3LpfU2q
Discover more cycling routes in Staffordshire: https://bit.ly/3P7Y3hJ
Tackle England’s oldest horserace ‘course’… by bike
England’s oldest horse race – which dates to the reign of Henry VIII and where the runner-up often wins more than the winner – is held each year in the Yorkshire Wolds on the third Thursday of March. But for a different experience, riders can hop in a saddle to tackle the race route… by following in the hoof-steps of this strangest of contests on two wheels. For a cycling ’Derby’, bikers can head from Market Weighton – one of the many attractive villages and market towns in the Yorkshire Wolds – to Pocklington, via the Kiplingcotes racecourse. Riding it on any day, apart from when the race is run, of course, makes for a half-day ride, offering a scenic, tranquil and gently sloping route. And making it even easier to tackle the route of the country’s oldest horse race on a cycle, East Yorkshire’s X46 service, between York and Hull via Market Weighton, taking in Beverley and Pocklington, features buses that welcome bikes. https://bit.ly/3BKohnj
For more on cycling in East Yorkshire: http://bit.ly/3oXJEb6
Take a spin with an epic 60-mile ‘Swiss Roll’ in Hampshire
Think cycling in Hampshire and your thoughts probably turn to picturesque trails ambling through the New Forest. But for serious, and less serious, road cyclists there’s so much more. While there is plenty of great family and leisure cycling to discover, Hampshire is also a perfect spot for a variety of more challenging routes for road cyclists. For those looking for a day’s challenging cycling, there’s the 60–mile Tour of Little Switzerland – ‘Hampshire Swiss Roll’. Beech woodland, steep climbs with short sharp gradients of up to 20%, tree lined sunken lanes, chalk hillsides and views of the surrounding countryside have given this part of Hampshire the nickname of Little Switzerland. The route travels through picturesque villages and stunning views in and around the South Downs National Park, including sweeping vistas down to Avington Park with a 16th-century country house at its heart, said to be where King Charles II found lodging for Nell Gwyn. http://bit.ly/2T1Fp1i
Explore a host of cycling routes in Hampshire: https://bit.ly/3deKLTh
Cycle as far as the cows, and the pigs… with poetry thrown in for good measure
Where can you cycle until the cows come home and celebrate the works of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson? The answer is Lincolnshire. Opening-up countryside inaccessible for decades, the Water Rail Way is a 33-mile off-road, riverside path built for walking and cycling that follows the route of the old Lincoln to Boston Railway Line. Giving it a real Lincolnshire flavour a series of sculptures along it are themed to celebrate Lincolnshire agriculture, and the words of local poet Tennyson. So, you can cycle as far as the cows (Lincoln Red Cattle, of course), or pedal past Lincolnshire’s own Curly Coat pigs. Other artworks create a sculpture trail inspired by the poems of Lincolnshire-born Tennyson. https://bit.ly/38avDjK
Details of plenty more Lincolnshire cycling routes: https://bit.ly/3C5q7PZ
Try out a test track
if you were wowed by track cycling at the Birmingham Games, there’s a chance to try out at perhaps one of Britain’s least well-known velodromes. Opened in 2015, Derby Arena is the Midlands’ hub for track cycling, boasting a 250-metre indoor cycling track, and with a reputation as one of the country’s most advanced cycling facilities. British Cycling even moved its Team GB cyclists here earlier this year while the National Cycling Centre in Manchester underwent renovations. Attracting both elite and recreational riders, training and racing opportunities are available for everyone from novices to veterans. One-hour track cycling session, costing £17.05 each, can be a one-off taster session, or the start of gaining full track accreditation. The arena also stages an annual Fun Fest at the beginning of August, with family classes and track cycling tasters. All session must be pre-booked. https://bit.ly/3zZPhxN
Discover more about cycling in Derby: https://bit.ly/3d710S5