Friday, 17 December 2010

Planning your own long distance cycle (Step 1)

The first step of planning a cycle route is obviously the route that you are going to take, unless you have a good Atlas of your area and are willing to do wild camping then it is best to plan ahead. If you are going to camp just anywhere then you may decided to skip this step and let yourself just pedal where your nose takes you.

Planning a route is fairly simple and doesn't take much time at all. All you need to know is where you are going and what sort of roads you are willing to travel on. below I list some key points to the use of different roads.

Different types of road
  • Motorways/highways.
  • Cycle Routes
  • A-roads, there are 2 different types of A-roads dual carriageways and single lane roads.
  • roundabouts
  • B-roads
  • Unnamed country roads.
Obviously bicycles are not allowed on the motorway and for obvious reasons too. It would be stupid to think otherwise really. There are however with some motorways paths that follow the motorways route very closely that allow cyclists to cycle on. The only issue is, as with all cycle paths they are not very reliable at the best of times and sometimes come to a stop or disappear into a wall. If your cycle path does disappear into a wall then please remember one thing, This is not Harry Potter, it will hurt if you crash into a wall!

Cycle routes
There are 2 types of cycle routes, off road and on road cycle routes. Now off road cycle routes are very rarely maintained so you may need to get off your bike at sections and push or carry it. I personally have found faults with most off road out of city cycle routes and the main issue is that they sometimes do merge with roads, so you do often find that road experience is crucial.

Road routes however are normally maintained at the same time as the road is, so if the road is in good condition then the cycle route is normally in the same condition. Road routes do at times go on the pavement for example at roundabouts, but it is not against the law to fly round that roundabout at 20MPH screaming because the cars are doing 50.

Dual Carriage ways
dual Carriage ways are always scary for new cyclists and you often find them very unnerving, best thing I find doing to overcome this is to put a 1 mile stretch of dual carriageway in every route that you create, upgrade that to a 2 mile stretch when you get used to it and so on. Doing this will slowly but surely detach you from the grasps of the back streets.

Do not be ashamed of this fear, all new cyclists have this fear and it is not limited to people who ride bicycles. If you ask any honest car driver you will find out that when they first got their drivers license they avoided motorways for the first month or 2 when they started driving even if it means adding 2 hours onto an already 2 hour journey and obviously money greedy driving schools saw a market in this and now offer a motorway driving courses.

The one thing to remember is there is more room for cars to overtake you when they require therefore less chance of an accident.

Single Roads
Single roads whether they are A-roads or B-roads are still as dangerous as dual carriageways, if not more dangerous. Don't be fooled into thinking that single roads are not dangerous, as I mentioned under Dual Carriageways, single roads don't always allow much room for overtaking and therefore can be more dangerous at times for cyclists.

This does not mean in any way to skip them out of your journey and is just to make you aware that accidents can happen anywhere, but fear makes them worse.

Roundabouts as with Dual Carriageways are daunting for cyclists, cycling around a roundabout is even daunting for car drivers at times, when it seems that the car to the right is going to cut you up. As with all roads it is crucial to be very Vigilant on roads with roundabouts, make sure you know what turn you are going to make before you even think of pedaling on to the roundabout and make 100% sure that no cars are coming round and remember they doing 2 or 3 times the speed as what you are.

Unamed roads
I personally like riding on unnamed roads, hardly any cars, you feel freedom and you can normally find short peaceful routes to your destination. There are however downsides to them, if a road is hardly used then hardly any money will be put into maintaining the roads. This means that potholes and uneven road edges may be an issue. On unnamed roads you don't normally get pot holes, but an uneven road edge is often a problem, so it is always best to look ahead so that you can react in time, otherwise you could easily find yourself in a ditch at the side of the road.

Picking an atlas for you
There are so many different types of atlases out there that offer different things, unless you think that you may be cycling 30+MPH then it is not worth getting an atlas that tells you exactly where speed cameras are positioned. You may however want an atlas that has information about local amenities such as shops, restaurants and any other cyclist refueling stations. If you are going to be cycling within cities then you may be best of getting an atlas with close-up maps of city centres. If you are just simply cycling around your local city then obviously an A-Z of your city is the best option for you.

What I find best is best to do is detach yourself from the internet and to go down to a bookstore such as Waterstones and go to their Atlas section and look through the different atlases on offer and decide which one is good for you.

Look at readability of the map, if you cannot understand how the map is layed out then there is no point in spending your hard earned money into it.

Actually creating your route
Creating your route can be fun, but is not the best part of the journey. Creating the route can be done by either flipping through your atlas and writing down directions to your destination or by using a tool such as Google map creator which allows you to create a map by roads or using lines. I prefer to use the lines option, the reason why is because the roads option doesn't always attach itself to the certain road you want to cycle on and will attach itself instead to a motorway. Using the line option on the other hand places a node anywhere you click. Please see the link below to learn how to use the Google map creator to create and save maps to your Google Account.

This guide will be continued next friday!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Nottingham to Derby

This route is a short and fairly simple training route taking you to Derby from Nottingham, this route doesn't really take you past any landmarks as I can think of, although do feel free to correct me on this if I am wrong. As mentioned this route is a training route and I personally do this route with no break at any point.

There are very few hills on this route to Derby so it is good practice for flat cycling, but if you are wanting hills then this might not be for you. However, once you get in to Derby you can follow the river side patch into Matlock which might be a good route. So far I have not followed the riverside path that far, but it does stretch that far.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Nottingham - Birmingham

Currently making a Nottingham to Birmingham route that starts of by going through Ruddington, I am wanting to know if anyone knows of any good landmarks on this route. I have not yet completed the route, but I am hoping that people know any landmarks on the way that I may want to add to the map.

Due to the route being so long I want there to be some kind of checkpoints of some sort, I would rather it be a landmark or place of interest so that people can take a pleasant break or have a nice social ride.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

New routes.

I enjoy going to new destinations and finding a cycle rout to the destinations. I am constantly creating new routes for me to cycle. If there is a certain destination that you would like a route creating to from Nottingham then please specify what place you are wanting to cycle to, what time of year and whether you mind whether there are busy roads or not. I will try to personally make a route for you and might even test it myself depending on whether the route or the destination interests me or not.

Nottingham - Manchester

So far, I have only done this once and it was a very challenging ride taking me through the Peak Districts. The route goes up into Bulwell town centre, through Bulwell Hall Park into Hucknal. When you arrive in Hucknal you carry on towards the North of Nottingham through Sutton in Ashfield and carry on to Chesterfield. It is recommended that you do not stop when you get to Chesterfield and keep a steady cycle on into the Peak Districts.

The Peak Districts as the name suggests has loads of ascents and descents, when you are cycling it seems like there are more ascents rather than descents but as the saying goes what goes up must come down. During the winter this route is not advised by me, I might just try it some time in the winter though just to see what it is actually like, although my Racing bike may need to sit this one out. The hardest part I found of the journey myself was getting into the Peak Districts from the Nottingham side.

I do not mind ascents that are steep and short, but when they go up fairly steep and go on for miles that is when the hill gets tiring. If you can make it into the Peak Districts then you should be ok. Although saying that, you may get stuck on Winnatts Pass which is the Steepest road in the Peak Districts, personally I found this road quite easy, it is really steep but the whole road only goes on for 1 mile. I wouldn't be suprised though if the majority of people actually disagreed with me saying it is easy though. After all that hill is famously used in most races that go through the Peak Districts as an elimination hill to filter out the good cyclists. If you are doing the cycle leisurely and not in a race you may want to get off and push up hill, if you stop peddling for a split second you will be back down the hill again.

Once you have got up Winnats pass it is all pretty flat from there until you go down hill into Hyde and on to Manchester city centre.

On this ride I do highly recommend that you take some food with you and also some liquid. You can never really count on any of the shops in the Peak Districts being open when you want them to be. Also be very careful with the traffic, it may not be a very busy route but one mistake with the traffic in the Peak Districts could easily cost you your life.,-1.702881&spn=0.564979,1.234589&t=h&z=10

As with all my routes that I put on this blog please ask any questions that you may have and I will try my best to answer them as soon as possible.

Nottingham - Grantham

The Nottingham to Grantham rout takes you down to South Nottingham over the Trent Bridge, on through Holme Pierpoint water sports centre into Radcliffe through some small villages onto Belvoir castle. The route is an easy route with a few tough hills to climb along the way but nothing too tiring. Belvoir castle is a good halfway milestone to let you know how far you are with the journey to Grantham and is also a very good resting point after a steep climb just before you get to the castle.

I sometimes still cycle this route more for a quick bit of exercise more than anythings, although there is some hard parts the route as a whole is a fairly simple route and is more for the beginner cyclists or to be used for a leisure route.

The cycle from the Castle is a fairly flat surface, I mainly created this journey as I going to be doing a trip from Nottingham - Edinburgh sometime very soon and this takes me onto the route that goes from London to Edinburgh.

If there is anything you want to know about the route then just feel free to leave a comment and I will try to answer as soon as possible.