The British Isles have some of the most stunning and pleasurable cycling routes in the world; from country roads, to the flats of the Norfolk Broads, there’s a ride to suit everyone, whether you’re a beginner, or an experienced cyclist looking for a challenging ride.
Much of the appeal of road cycling is that it can really be done anywhere. You can pop to the local shops, or ride across town on the daily commute. Or go out with some cycling buddies at the weekend and easily be out for the entire day. If you’re a road cycling beginner, it’s best to stay local until you feel confident on the road. Perhaps start by cycling around your local park and do a few short trips to places you’re familiar with, but once you’ve got a good few rides under your belt, there are some fantastic places you can go if you fancy a little trip slightly further afield.
- Mortehoe Cycle Trail, North Devon (4.4km): This easy cycle ride is the perfect place for you to try out your new road bike. You'll start on a quiet road, before following a private lane to Bull Point, a rocky headland battered by crashing seas, which is an amazing place to have a picnic with the family.
- Richmond Park, London (12km): An oasis in England’s bustling capital, Richmond Park is one of London’s most popular cycle spots. Choose the clockwise or anti-clockwise circuit, and do as many laps of the park as you feel comfortable with. While taking in breathtaking views of London, and deer-spotting among 2,500 acres of parkland.
- Box Hill Olympic Circuit, London (19km): The Surrey Hills have become one of the UK’s must-ride locations. You’ll follow in the trail of great Olympic cyclists while taking in some of south-east England’s most beautiful and picturesque scenery. Riding a short loop on meandering rural roads, is a great introduction to the area and it’s a nice route for beginner road cyclists.
- The Camel Trail, Cornwall (29km): The perfect day out, this route has something for everyone. Running the length of a disused railway line, this largely traffic-free route showcases the beautiful Cornish countryside. Start your ride in Padstow, before following the well-surfaced estuary path to Wadebridge. If you’re feeling up for it, you can carry on towards Bodmin, passing through idyllic woodland and some of the south west’s most stunning landscapes.
And if you fancy escaping the UK for a little cycling holiday, Europe has so many stunning cycle spots to choose from:
- Veloscenic, France: A 450km cycle route running through northern France, it breaks into seven sections and 25 stages of varying difficulty. Families and beginners might like the four stages from Nogent-le- Rotrou to Alençon, Normandy (77km). This section is almost entirely on greenways, which are reserved for non-motorised traffic – a stress-free way to view the lakes, castles and picturesque villages.
- Danube Cycle Path, Hungary: Europe’s first cycle path follows the beautiful Danube river as it meanders from Germany to the Black Sea, via Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. It spans a whopping 1,800 miles, but you can choose a section to suit you. This route is perfect for beginner cyclists, with its safe rides along well-maintained flat paths. Whichever section you decide to cycle, there are an endless array of sights along the way.
- Nibe, Denmark: Copenhagen was named the World’s ‘Most Bicycle-friendly City’ in 2015, and with its nice flat landscape and brilliant infrastructure, it’s the perfect place for road beginner cyclists. There’s a national cycle network in Denmark consisting of more 11,000 km of sign-posted routes for you to choose from. Route 29 goes from Nibe over Vegger, Aars, Haubro and Farsø to Hvalpsund. The route goes partly along the former private railway from Aalborg to Hvalpsund, which was closed in 1969.
- Adige Cycle Path, Italy: For mountainous scenery, Italy‘s northern region of Trentino Alto-Adige is hard to beat. The route is downhill or flat almost all the way, making it perfect for beginner road cyclists. You can take your time, and enjoy the views, with the dramatic scenery of the Alps, and the stunning Lake Garda. You’ll finish your ride in the romantic city of Verona.
Can I take a bike on the plane?
Most airlines now take bikes, but you will likely need to bag or box your bike before you go through check in. Make sure you check with your airline before you fly, and take note of the weight and dimension restrictions so you don’t incur extra costs. Be sure to pack your bike well (with bubble wrap if need be) and remove any delicate parts which could get damaged in transit. Fix your handlebars sideways, and remove the pedals so they don’t stick out. It’s also sensible to partially deflate your tyres. But don’t forget your tool kit so you can put everything back together again once you’ve reached your destination.
Or, why not just hire a bike once you get to your destination? It’s easy to hire bikes throughout most of Europe. Many train stations have bike-rental counters. And it’s sometimes possible to return the bike at a different location so you don’t have to retrace your route. Hostels are another good place to find cheap bike hire. Or you can book yourself on a cycle tour for another great way to see the sites.