Cycling is fast becoming one of the nation’s favourite pastimes. Whether you’ve been cycling competitively for years or took it up during the lockdown as a way to exercise and maintain your sanity, the health benefits of cycling are huge. Not to mention the environmental impact of bicycles over other forms of transport. Here in the Forest of Dean we are used to welcoming tourists on weekend cycling breaks. We like to make sure our cycling guests are well fed and well rested so they enjoy their holiday as much as possible. We also have secure bike storage and a bike wash to make life a little easier. If you’ve decided to holiday in the UK this year and you want to take your bike, we’ve pulled together a list of things you might want to consider when planning your next UK cycling holiday.
Bikepacking or Basecamp?
Will you bikepack or will you basecamp? What’s the difference? Bikepacking is working your way along a route staying at different places whereas if you decide to Basecamp, you’ll stay in one place and explore different cycle routes each day from one location. Which one you choose will depend on how far you want to explore and how much variety you want.
If you’ve decided to bikepack, consider choosing a circular route. Working your way out and then back. How many miles will you aim to cycle each day? Will you have rest days as this will mean booking two or more nights in your accommodation along the route. Are there places that you will want to stop and sight see along the way? Make sure that you give yourself enough time to enjoy each place you visit. Here in the Forest of Dean we have a wealth of attractions and beautiful places to visit including Puzzlewood, Clearwell Caves and the Perrygrove Railway. If you’ve decided to basecamp and cycle out each day check that your accommodation has somewhere secure to store your bikes overnight. You might also want to look for venues that also offer a massage or have an ensuite bath so you can soak your weary muscles after a long day out on the bike.
Planning your trip
The UK is famous for its changeable weather and even in the height of summer we can see torrential downpours. The saying goes there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing but there’s no denying a cycling holiday is going to be much more enjoyable between May and October than it is in December. Make sure you have a change of kit so that you’re comfortable on the bike and that your tyres are suitable for possible wet conditions.
Choosing your cycling routes
Preparation is the key to a successful cycling holiday. Map your routes. Where are you cycling? How far are you cycling? What will the terrain be like; will it be hilly? If you plan a holiday that has three consecutive days of steep hills, those three days may well be miserable, especially if you throw in some rain and a strong headwind. Be realistic about your fitness levels, the amount of time you want to spend in the saddle and the sights you want to see. Are the roads busy? A positive impact of the pandemic (and the rising cost of fuel) is that many roads are quieter. Will they have a lot of heavy traffic? If you’ve pretty much decided on the area you want to explore, find some online cycling forums and ask other people to share their experiences of those roads.
Rest and pit stops
Once you’ve decided how far you want to cycle each day, the next thing you need to think about is fuel. Will you carry your food with you or will you stop for lunch? If you’re bikepacking, consider how often you will need to restock your supplies. Where are the shops on your routes that you will need? How much can you comfortably carry in your panniers or backpack? Have you cycled longer distances with this weight before? If you pick up an injury or you want a day out of the saddle how flexible is your itinerary? There’s nothing worse than a day in the saddle when what you really want is to lay on a comfortable bed reading a book.
Spares & Repairs
Where are the bike shops on your route? Most seasoned cyclists carry puncture repair kits and tools with them even on short bike rides but if you’re heading out on a longer trip check ahead of time where you will be able to go for any last minute tools or inner tubes. It’s not unheard of to have three pounctures in one day. If you know exactly where to replace anything you need it’s going to be less stressful if anything does go wrong.
In case of emergency
Have an emergency back up plan and make sure you have insurance. You’re going on holiday so you’ll need holiday insurance. Do you have all the medication you need? Do you have any special conditions that require you to wear a medical bracelet or alert? Are you carrying your emergency contact details? What does your insurance policy have in place in terms of transport or a replacement bike if your bike is damaged in an accident or stolen?
Hopefully you’ll have a great holiday and you won’t need to worry about any of this, but if the worst does happen both you and your loved ones will have peace of mind if everything is in place before you set off.
The beautiful Forest of Dean and Wye Valley are extremely popular with cyclists. Stunning landscapes and a variety of cycling routes make Gloucestershire the perfect location for your next cycling holiday. You’ll be spoilt for choice for things to do and see, places to eat and stay. At Tudor Farmhouse Hotel we give a warm welcome to cycling tourists. Whether you stay with us at Tudor Farmhouse Hotel as a base for your exploring or stay just a few nights as you bikepack your way around the countryside we will store your bikes safely while you relax in our rural retreat and culinary oasis. Soak your legs after a hard day on the bike in one of our roll top baths or monsoon showers. In the evening you can enjoy locally sourced high quality food in our restaurant before you head up to bed and get a good night’s sleep on one of our gorgeous pocket sprung mattresses with duck feather pillows and duvets and 300 count linen sheets. Your next cycling break is only a click away, and if you are new to cycling, you may want to consider our e-bike package.