Cycling holidays allow you to feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face while giving you the freedom to discover new cycle routes within attractive, natural surroundings. Cycling is also a great way to exercise and can help you bounce back from an illness or injury. Your mental health is sure to get a boost too!
You can book cycling holidays which last a few days, or you can take a one-two week cycling break, to explore your chosen destination. In this blog, we’ll explain how to prepare for a cycling holiday and uncover top cycling trails and hotspots, at some of the most attractive UK holiday destinations.
How can I Prepare for a Cycling Holiday?
To train for a cycling holiday and avoid returning home over-tired or burned out you should do the following:
- Give yourself a warm-up by getting your body ready. Go on some weekend rides (or extend them) in the lead-up to your cycling break. Psychologically you’ll also feel prepared too.
- If you’re going on a cycling holiday in a group, pinpoint the route/s you plan to take, as well as what you all want to see and do in-between your cycling. You might even want to go for a couple of rides solo too.
- During your holiday have a ‘recovery day’, or a day when you decide to go for a shorter, flatter ride. This could be dependent on the weather, so read the forecast before leaving home.
- Prepare your bicycle by making sure your gears and brakes are in good working order. You might want to have these serviced or even replace them beforehand.
- Take removable layers of clothing that’ll wick away sweat (such as a base layer, packable jacket, arm, and leg warmers), so it doesn’t cool on your skin during descents.
- Make sure you have a comfortable saddle for any endurance rides, by testing it in advance. If you’re hiring a bike it is usually no problem to fit your own saddle, which you know to be comfortable.
- Remember to fuel correctly each day. Eat porridge for breakfast, for a slow release of energy throughout the day. Then in the evening, have a portion of pasta, rice, or a potato dish. In hot weather, drink more and eat less, and in cooler weather drink less and eat more.
If you follow these steps, you should return home with an improved level of fitness. If you are a beginner the health benefits should be even more pronounced, once those aches and pains ease off…
Cycling Holidays for Beginners
A good distance to cycle every day is between 40-60 miles if you’re on a bicycle tour. However, this can be shorter or longer, depending upon your level of fitness. As it’s your cycling holiday do what is comfortable to you and only push yourself as much as you are confident to. As it is your holiday the emphasis is on enjoying yourself, relaxing, and not placing too much pressure on yourself – unless you want to! Otherwise, cut down the distance and enjoy a leisurely bicycle ride!
What you should do is fewer miles on your first day. This is because you’ll be slower, due to not being in your best physical shape on day one. So just set yourself a manageable goal. Then, the longer you cycle, the stronger and faster you’ll become each day and the further you’ll be able to ride.
For easy rides that allow you to take in some of the best scenery in Britain, you could follow an old railway line, cycle through tunnels, or find a flat, traffic-free track. You can always break up your chosen cycle trail to stroll around nature reserves, and stay in country villages too!
Easy Cycling Holiday locations for Beginners:
- The Manifold Way, Staffordshire; is an eight-mile track that runs between Hulme End and Waterhouses, which follows the old Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway. Ride through a 100m tunnel after views of a limestone gorge in Staffordshire Peak District.
- The Hadrian’s Cycleway, Cumbria; which is a coast-to-coast cycling trail. Covering 174 miles (280km), you can decide which part you want to cycle along and which pubs to refresh yourself in by viewing Hadrian’s Cycleway Guide Book However, it’s very accessible for the casual cyclist, with glimpses of Hadrian’s Wall within some of England’s most wild and dramatic countryside.
- The Camel Trail, Cornwall; follow old and historic railway lines, from Padstow to Wenford Bridge. Cycle past moorlands, and through the wooded Camel Valley – there’s the bonus of an award-winning pub on route! This trail is said to be good for both solo cycling holidays, but also family cycling holidays because it’s largely a traffic-free trail, easily broken up into small chunks to cater to your or your family’s overall fitness levels.
What is the best time for cycling?
Morning is the best time for cycling, which is great news if you love to capture a sunrise! As the sun is at its lowest then, you can avoid the peak heat and embrace comfortable morning weather. As you start to pedal, your increased blood flow will also wake your body and you’ll feel fresh to enjoy the rest of the day. After a cycle in the morning, you could then stop for lunch and explore the sights of a coastal village, or shelter from the sun under a tree with a picnic, or even go for a dip in the sea!
Where are the best places to take a cycling holiday in the UK?
There are a number of top destinations to choose from in Great Britain. However, if you wanted to cycle around the UK, which is known as The Great Tour (billed as the UK’s “ultimate cycling challenge”) it would take you 64 days, riding 60 miles each day.
Here are a selection of cycling holidays for you to choose from, which should be slightly more manageable for you and your party…
Cycling Holidays in Devon
If you admire the contrasts of Devon’s coastline, from its rocky north to its sandy, southern coastline, a cycling holiday coast to coast could be for you. The 102 -mile route through rural Devon, from Ilfracombe to Plymouth can be ridden in two days. However, for families and newcomers to cycling holidays, you can cover the mainly, traffic-free route over three days.
Or, choose to have a more relaxed journey by completing the route in two weeks. As you ride, you’ll pedal along historic railway viaducts, through tunnels and over the charming Devonshire countryside. You can find places to stop in at Barnstable, Okehampton, and Tavistock.
Cycling Holidays in Dorset
Choose from one of three Jurassic coast cycling trails or complete each one over a week, for a jam-packed adventure cycling holiday in Weymouth, on the Jurassic Coast! Thanks to Dorset Country Council, the trails are fit for both young families and avid cyclists. Each starts from Overcombe, Weymouth’s eastern seafront.
The Lodmoor Trail is perfect for youngsters. At three miles long it includes a stretch along the pretty Preston Beach and goes around Lodmoor Country park and Nature Reserve. The Weymouth Trail (8.5 miles) follows the Weymouth Way to Abbotsbury, where you’ll find a Swannery and Sub-tropical Gardens. The longest trail is the Portland Trail, which joins the Rodwell Trail which will take you to Osprey Quay and Portland Marina. With views of Portland Habour, you can enjoy a well-deserved seafood supper.
You can book a guided cycling holiday with different providers across the UK, which can include overnight stays. On these types of cycling holidays, you’ll have the opportunity to make new friends, while cycling in a group. Your guides can also suggest both long and short routes, which suit your level of stamina.
During a guided cycling holiday in the Cotswolds, you’ll cycle through historic villages and down quiet lanes, as you embrace the quintessential Cotswold countryside. Start in Moreton-in-March and finish at Chipping Campden, within five days, by choosing long and/or short routes. Along the way, pause to wander around ancient streets, markets or visit Hidcote Manor Gardens. For a weekend cycling break, follow the Chipping Campden Circular.
Guided Family Cycling Holidays in the Lake District
Spend some quality time with your family during a cycling holiday in the stunning Eden Valley. To develop your cycling skills and to cycle more confidently and safely, start your guided break with a maintenance check from your MIAS (Mountain Bike Instructors Award Scheme). Then spend the next three days cycling between 10-20 miles across flat terrain. Within the hills and Lakeland Fells, visit the 13th century, Brougham Castle.
What won’t be included in a guided family cycling holiday is travel insurance, which is where Free Spirit can offer you a range of benefits, such as curtailment cover if you need to cut your trip short unexpectedly. Free Spirit will also cover you for mountain biking, cycle touring/leisure biking (up to 1,000m), as well as over 100 other activities for free.
In contrast, if you’re looking for a self-guided or solo cycling holiday, Northern Island is a great choice…
Any cycling holiday in Ireland will be an adventure! For a self-guided cycling holiday in Northern Ireland, take one of the ‘off the beaten track’ routes from Belfast, which can be mapped out for you by a travel provider. They can also book your accommodation and luggage transfers too.
Over the course of your cycling break, roll along cycle greenways, past stunning seascapes and mighty mountain passes, and visit some top UK heritage sites, such as the Giants Causeway. One route that is perfect for novices, of all ages and abilities is The Lagan and Lough Cycle Way. Just 20.3 miles long, spend a week or less taking in cityscape views. While cycling through a number of beautiful parks, stop for a picnic before finishing at Lisburn docks. If you love wildlife watching or nature photography, you might want to stop in at The Belfast Lough Nature Reserve to watch redshanks, oystercatchers, and black-tailed godwits.
Cycling Holidays in Wales
Begin a cycling holiday in Wales from the medieval market town of Ludlow, on the England-Wales border. Start with a visit to Ludlow’s 11th-century castle and choose from one of Ludlow’s many cycling routes. If you’re a fan of fishing, there are plenty of trout streams to stop off at.
For a challenge, follow The Radnor Ring, which is the remotest part of Britain south of the Highlands. Follow the signed route across the Radnorshire hills towards the Wye Valley.
A route full of archaeological intrigue, covering 108-136 miles it may be an ideal off-the-beaten-track holiday, as well as an attractive location for cycling. On this vast route, you can always cycle a section of it. For instance, cycle through the Elan Valley dams and head for the Red Kite feeding station at Gigrin Farm.
Wherever you’re pedaling around you’ll need some comfortable accommodation after a day on the saddle…
Cycling Holiday Accommodation
- A Farmhouse for the family
For a luxury cycling holiday stay in a thatched farmhouse within the heart of The New Forest, which will be roomy enough for all the family – including the dog! Get out the board games and play in the games barn when the weather’s wet. When dry, head to Forest Leisure Cycling to hire your bicycle and hit the plentiful cycle tracks.
- A cosy holiday cottage
Do self-catering in style, while staying in a charming cottage surrounded by cycling routes for all abilities. For couples, enhance your romantic break! Find a cottage with a hot tub cottage. Or, travel solo and focus upon your own self-care needs after a long day of cycling.
- A hotel surrounded by cycling routes
Find a sport, craft, and spa hotel surrounded by cycling routes. Here, you can hire an electric bicycle, before deciding which bike trail to follow. You could then extend your stay, to include a couple of days at the spa, or book into a wellness retreat to recuperate and reap all the benefits of your cycling break.
Whichever UK holiday destination attracts your attention for a cycling holiday, don’t forget Free Spirit UK travel insurance. There are many features and benefits of taking out a policy, such as Coronavirus Cancellation Cover. For more information contact us.