Cycling Holidays in Britain

Mountainbike

Recent British success at international level has seen the popularity of cycling go through the stratosphere. Our roads seem to be packed with budding Sir Bradley Wiggins’, especially at this time of year when the Tour de France grabs the attention of the nation. Holidays are the perfect time to indulge our passion for cycling. Many of these days are not satisfied with sedentary breaks and are looking more from our time away from the daily grind and cycling ticks all of the boxes. It’s family friendly whilst getting the most of the great outdoors – not to mention the health benefits. Cycling is perfect for your next activities based cottage holiday. We are going to take a look at some of the best options for a great cycling holiday in Britain

Mountain Biking in North Wales

Wales is a magnet for outdoor sports enthusiasts with many drawn by the spectacular scenery of the Snowdonia National Park. The rugged Welsh terrain is perfect or mountain biking and the area is famous for having some of the best trails in the country. Apart from the stunning views, adventure seeking bikers are attracted by the range of varied mountain and forest routes available throughout the National Park.

The essence of mountain biking is the exhilarating challenge inherent within the off-road biking experience. It is the archetypal man/woman versus nature scenario that offers a sense of freedom combined with speed that makes mountain biking addictive for many. With Snowdonia such a popular and established mountain bike destination there is an established support network offering bike hire, guided tours and purpose built tracks for riders of all abilities. The expanse of wilderness and with such a high proliferation of mountain bike trails, you will more than likely be able to set off from your cottage door.

Where to mountain bike in North Wales:

  • Betws y Coed
  • Coed Llandegla
  • Hiraethog
  • Clywds

Search for accommodation in North Wales

Road Cycling in the Scottish Highlands

It is not hard to understand why so many cyclists are drawn to the quiet roads and lanes of the Scottish Highlands. Whether it be traversing majestic glens or exploring exquisite loch side routes, Scotland is simply great for cycling.  Many of the roads in the Highlands have very low traffic indeed, in fact a large number remain single track to this day. The rugged unspoiled terrain offers stunning panorama’s throughout the region, but the staggering scenery also means there are energy sapping assents but of course what goes up, must come down. Just keep thinking of the long descent at the other side!

In the summer month’s conditions are great for cycling in the Highlands. Often the climate is mild and the daylight hours extend way into the late evening, staying light longer than the most of Britain. Particularly on the west coast which benefits from the Atlantic gulf stream and in summer temperatures can rocket and the wind drops.

If you are looking for gentler and less challenging routes but wanting to make the most of the gorgeous scenery then maybe exploring the coast is the option you are looking for. With expansive sea lochs and delightful coastal villages, the route taking in Lochinver north to Ullapool takes some beating.  With regular ferry crossings available to the enigmatic Scottish Isles, there are great options for rewarding cycle holidays across the islands and mainland of the Scottish Highlands

Where to cycle in the Scottish Highlands:

  • The Great Glen
  • Kyle of Sutherland
  • Fort William
  • The Dornoch Firth Circular

Search for accommodation in the Scottish Highlands

Riverside cycling by the Norfolk Broads

In stark contrast to the mountains of Scotland and Wales, the gentle undulations and riverside cycle routes of the Norfolk Broads, whilst maybe a little less energetic, offer a fascinating network great for family riding. This unique area of rivers and small lakes is truly a special part of East Anglia. The tranquil surroundings provide a haven for wildlife and offer cyclists quiet trails across Norfolk and north Suffolk. The Broads themselves are protected wetland area covering over 120 miles of navigable waterway including the rivers Bure, Yare, Ant and Thurne. The landscape is peppered with quaint villages, windmills/windpumps and charming country inns.

Mixing country lanes and riverside trails, the Norfolk Broads has a well established network of cycle routes to enjoy at the pace of your choosing.  The ‘Broads by Bike’ network is collection of 14 routes ranging in length from five to twenty-five miles covering the picturesque Broadland countryside and extending to the Norfolk coastline. Taking in routes that pass delightful market towns, nature reserves and ancient churches, there something to entrance the whole family on your next cycling holiday in the beautiful Norfolk Broads.

Where to cycle in the Norfolk Broads:

  • Horning
  • Hickling
  • Stalham
  • The ‘Bittern Track’

Search for accommodation in the Norfolk Broads


Jackie’s National Cyclo Sportive experience

Woke up Saturday, after a fitful sleep, very nervous but Mark was also feeling the same so we understood each others nerves! Managed to get some porridge down, heard this was a good option to have!

We got to the parking area in good time – 7.45am, pockets loaded and spare inner tube etc in bike bag wow was I going to need it! We met  up with the rest of the cottages4you team and Mark’s colleagues from Hope down at the start line about 1 mile from the parking area, noticing that we’d have a very steep hill to go back up once the ride was over.

Everyone was buzzing, the ‘long ride’ riders started setting off from 8am, people were queuing up to receive their timing chips and some were even still registering.  It was sunny and clear – we all stood together and set off from approx 8.35am, fully stocked up with fluids including free Gatorade!.

The adrenalin was working, I’d done the first part of the ride out of Barley on Monday – I wanted to get up the hill no slower than 5mph but found it so easy I was going at least 8mph. I caught up with Peter R and luckily stayed with him because at 3.5 miles I had my first puncture – going 35mph down the hill towards Downham – our MD, Geoff thought someone had shot at us!  I thought it was over but Peter stopped and so did Aaron, Pete and Matty – Peter R started to take my back wheel off as I was clueless but I did ask ‘why do you have to take that off when it’s the front’? LOL – the guys were great – I only had 1 spare inner tube and the ‘repair car’ gave me another – (Caroline got the bill, thanks!).  I can’t thanks these 4 enough for saving me and getting me back on track!

Next miss-hap was poor Wendy, within minutes of my stop – James had a problem with his gears and as he stopped Wendy didn’t and went flying over her handle bars – were we doomed – she picked herself up though and we continued on to Waddington Fell – passing Nic pushing his bike out of Downham…he really meant it when he said he hadn’t trained for this!

Straight up to the top of Waddy Fell, photo shoot at the top and wow it was fast going down the other side – a bit scary with the gravely edges of the roads – I was a little bit apprehensive with the speeds – touching 40mph when you don’t know the road is daunting – but my friend Doc Kenny told me later he went down at 58mph! Where was everyone else though?

Peter, Pete and I caught up with Geoff and we saw a sign for the feed station 1km,  but it was more like 5km till we got to Chipping – a chance to all catch up and refresh – and another photoshoot – sorry Matt again for dropping your camera.  Geoff fixed his shoes and we were off again!  It was boiling and we had some tough hills to get up, we motivated each other to keep going,  some hills made us curse, but I wasn’t getting off – up Longridge Fell, down the other side – I was pushing 40mph again – feeling great, another drink stop in Clitheroe to recharge.

The Nick of Pendle was OK, I had a gel drink at the bottom and got my head down, I saw the others behind me and thought I would get down the other side and wait at the bottom, I was going at 38mph when I had another puncture – I didn’t want to slow them down again so I went over to the side of the road and got the wheel off as I’d seen them  do before  – I did try and ring Mark as I thought he’d be wondering where I was – it was about 1pm.  No reply so I thought ‘sod it’ and I managed to get the inner tube out, tried to feel inside for anything and got the new one in and was fighting with it when a lovely lady rider stopped to offer her help.  She was the only one out of about a dozen riders who did.  By this point I was black from the rubber and so cross I managed to get it almost back on when Matty and Aaron, my knights in shinning armour appeared to save the day!  Peter had gone past and thought I was ahead of him still so Mark was starting to think something was wrong  when he got back before me.

Back on the bike I was just going through Sabden when my phone rang – Linda asking what time I’d finished – argh!
So we all decided to stick together going up Black Hill to make sure we all got back- oh what a hill!  My ‘cateye’ had stopped working – in my temper to change my tyre I’d knocked it, it was absolutely boiling now – and the hills were still appearing in front of us, we couldn’t wait to get back.  My friend Faulky rode on to meet us – nearly back, up the last little hill after Jinny Lane and on the flat back to Barley – I felt like we could carry on.

Matty, Aaron and I rode over the finishing line at 5:26hrs, Pet, Geoff and Wendy just behind us – I  hugged everyone in sight!  Geoff treated us all to a beer at the pub to celebrate whilst we waitied for the others to get back.  It was a very emotional day, we all enjoyed it and the company was amazing-  a great bunch of people to do it with and I will definitely be doing it next year!!
Honestly – you get over the saddle sores and it’s a fantastic feeling of achievement, so get on your bike and join us!

Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement, sponsors, Andrea for the day off work and Claire for working solo – plus Caroline for organising it and not laughing when I said I wanted to do it!

Jackie rode in the National Cyclo-Sportive at the recent Pendle Cycle Festival. Find more info on the event website.

The cottages4you team are raising money for Pendleside Hospice. You can sponsor the team on their Just Giving page and find more info on the hospice website.

Ben’s National Cyclo Sportive experience

Spot the cottages4you shirts.

Up at 6:00 so I have time to let a big breakfast digest, don’t want to be sick on the first climb. Realise it’s very hard to force a big breakfast down at 6, so I have a normal size breakfast and hope for the best. Being worried about my legs turning to jelly, I decided not to drive to the start in case I wouldn’t be able to operate the pedals later in the day. Consequently I enjoyed a really easy spin to the start on more or less deserted roads. If I could be bothered, I’d ride at this time more often.

After a bit of confusion in the start village over signing in details lost in the post I make way my way to the start line with colleagues Garry and Nigel who have also decided to do the 95 mile route (Nigel had only decided that morning, damn fool.) We by-passed the queue and went straight to the front, we weren’t being European about it, we just got lucky. We crossed the line first wearing our nifty cottages4you tops in an event sponsored by cottages4you. Nice

Immediately as we hit the first hill, which was only 100 yards after the start(!), came the first dilemma of the day. Do I carry on riding at the sensible pace that I started at, or do I sprint past the guy with incredible B.O. and tire myself out almost before I start? I chose the third way and slowed down.

It was all easy peasy for the next 20 miles or so. Then Garry crashed into his brother (who was riding with us) and broke his bike. This was a bad thing. Wayne (Garry’s brother) was our golden ticket. Unlike Garry and I, Wayne is a good cyclist and we were hoping to shelter behind him for pretty much the entire ride (and then sprint past him at the end, obviously.) Post crash, Wayne was left bleeding and with only 2 working gears. I was left with the prospect of having to ride in the wind for 75 miles. Oops.

After the initial excitement we could settle down and plod around the Lune valley. I’ve never been through it before, but I’ll go again. Wayne wasn’t enjoying it so much though. To add to his bike woes, he was getting cramp, probably from having to pedal twice as fast as everyone else, and our first feed stop couldn’t come soon enough. Luckily Garry’s wife Alison was waiting for us there with a stash of goodies, and we didn’t have to drink the same strange milkshake that everyone else did.

It was only after the feed zone that I noticed it was hot. Then the doubts set in, would I get cramp, would I go the way of Tom Simpson? Worse still, would I end up with cyclist’s tan? Luckily the terrain for the next 30 miles or so wasn’t too tricky (obviously it was tricky for Wayne, but we have to blame Garry for that) and I could enjoy the scenery and the sunshine and chat to a couple of the other riders.

Then we had the next 10 miles which went over Jeffrey Hill (never been  up it before, don’t want to go up it again) which were hard. I cursed the sunshine. Then we had the last 10 miles which were just horrid sadistic torture. I cursed the organisers. Wayne had to stop at the top of the Nick o’ Pendle climb as the cramp was stopping him from turning the pedals. Garry stopped with him and I rather selfishly carried on (sorry fellows, but if I’d stopped I wouldn’t have got going again.) I finally got cramp on the very last incline about a mile from the finish but thankfully was able to just ride through it.

When I turned the corner to cross the finish line I was amazed to see Warren from I.T. (let’s just say he’s not a cycling fan) applauding me in. Cheers Warren. Thanks to the other colleagues who turned up to cheer us on too. I was feeling pretty good about myself, cocky even. Then my son asked: ‘Daddy, why did you finish so far behind all those other riders?’ Fair point Felix, fair point.

Ben rode in the National Cyclo-Sportive at this month’s Pendle Cycle Festival. Find more info on the event website.

The cottages4you team are raising money for Pendleside Hospice. You can sponsor the team on their Just Giving page and find more info on the hospice website.

The National Road Race Championships

Sunday  saw the men’s and women’s National Road Race Championships as part of Pendle Cycle Fest, both of which contained levels of excitement, drama, grit and determination severely lacking from a certain other sporting event that day.

Things got off to a bad start in the women’s event as a large crash involving several competitors took place on a 50 mph descent between Roughlee and Barley. The race was stopped for over an hour as ambulances arrived on the scene to tend to the injured.

The race restarted with the original 8 laps now trimmed to 4. A shorter race seemed to buoy the competitors into an aggressive ride with a lot of attacking. Cervelo team member, Emma Pooley eventually made her move, seizing the lead and going on to win the race. Her teammate, Lizzie Armistead took the Silver medal with Nicole Cooke taking Bronze.

The men’s event was equally electrifying with a dramatic early break for Jeremy Hunt. However, like most of the other competitors, Hunt was soon feeling the heat on the hills and was eventually bested by 3 members of the Sky Pro Cycling team. Geraint Thomas took Gold, with teammates Peter Kennaugh and Ian Stannard taking Silver and Bronze respectively.

Photo by Larry Hickmott from British Cycling.

Jackie’s final Cycle Fest training diary

The last week or so has been a bit of a blur with bike and work training
so here’s my last blog….

As I write this there’s just 2 more sleeps to go……
My belly does somersaults at the thought of Saturday, I have visions of
my legs being so wobbly that I won’t be able to set off or get off when
I’m on it!!!!

Been doing lots of 10/15 mile bike rides, making sure there are plenty
of hills, not pushed myself too much as I’ve read what the pros do to
prepare.  Everyone is offering advice, my friend Faulky has given me a
gel pack and glucose sachet to mix with my drink for when I ‘bonk’???
(cycling term)!!  My husband Mark is also doing the ride with his
company ‘Hope’ so he’s constantly telling me what to do/not to do, he
knows I am so competitive that I’m at risk of starting too hard so that
I’ll have an empty tank at the end.

Do I stay in the saddle to go up a hill or stand up? Eat pasta the night
before, have a Guinness as well, try and eat something first thing, eat
every 20 minutes on the ride??

Do I wear shorts with or without,  trainers or cycling shoes – I have
decided definitely trainers as those of you who know me know how clumsy
I am, I can’t get my head round the quick release action of the shoes
and don’t want to cause a pile up!

We’ve all had lots of support from family, friends and colleagues, I am
sure everyone will be glad when it’s over but if one more person asks me
if I’m doing the ‘long’ or ‘short’ option I may swing for them – what’s
short about 50 miles of climbing steep, windy roads???  If you think
it’s short get your bike out and join us!!!
Still waiting for offers from volunteers to push me up the last hill,
you can email/text me or just be there on the day!

Yesterday I was told to expect temperatures of 30, today the BBC said highs of 22 with sunny
intervals…wind 6mph, so that’s ok’ish.  My mum has suggested I take a
little bag with a sponge in to keep myself cool…

Thanks to everyone who has sponsored us and offered words of
encouragement – why didn’t you try and talk me out of it??  No seriously
I have started a hobby I will keep going for a long time, hopefully. A
very big thank you again to Hope and Ian for my fantastic bike and to
Angelene for the 4 pack of ‘Pepperoni’ to enjoy with my curry Saturday
evening!!!  I will be thinking of you too x

Good luck to everyone and remember if you have to go up a hill – you’ll
be able to enjoy the descent – but think of what’s happened to Sir Steve
Redgrave and don’t go too fast!  It’s a ride not a race.
(and Duffy – I have tried to check for spellings/grammar!!)

Jackie is training for the National Cyclo-Sportive at Saturday’s Pendle Cycle Festival. Find more info on the event website.

The cottages4you team are raising money for Pendleside Hospice. You can sponsor the team on their Just Giving page and find more info on the hospice website.

Good luck to Jackie, the cottages4you team and all the other entrants.

Jackie’s Cycle Fest training diary pt 6

Saturday 6th Simple ride to work and back – 6.5 miles only today.

Sunday 7th Walk to Foulridge with Mark – only 1 pint of Guinness today!  I can’t stay off it – great iron provider! Got 1/2 way home and the heavens opened – totally drenched again – 2nd time in 2 days!  Don’t want another cold!

Monday 7th Bike ride to Rylstone again with Mark first thing – same route I did on 23rd May – drenched again and windy!  Managed to improve my time to 15.2mph.  Feeling more confident – just worried about that last assent at the end of the ride on the 26th June as even Ben is telling me it’s horrendous!  I think my colleagues should offer to push us up it or have a relay team of pushers???  Would that be allowed?

Tuesday 8th 12 mile ride around the local roads, saw my nephew Jacob who wanted to know what all the gadgets did on my bike – wanted me to show him how the quick release levers work on the wheels but I was worried I might have a wheel drop off if I tried.  Still need to learn how to change a puncture – I have all the gear but haven’t done one since my dad showed me as a child…….

Wednesday 9th 3 mile jog before work – seem to have slowed down, can really tell a difference now as my legs aren’t used to carrying the load anymore!!  Back to 10 minute miles!

Thursday 10th My daughter Katie’s 14th birthday so no exercise today!

Friday 11th 9.5 miles Greenberfield to Brogden then met Mark down the bar – even had a curry, read not to do this before a big ride and I know why…

Saturday 12th Nothing today – as working.

Sunday 13th Took Katie to Manchester shopping! I hate shopping and I’d heard the forecast was supposed to be good – guess what – great English summer it rained again so for once I was glad not to have to dry the bike down again – I am looking after it better than my family – they are starting to get fed up of it being in the dining room! 13 days to go …..

Jackie is training for the National Cyclo-Sportive at this month’s Pendle Cycle Festival. Find more info on the event website.

The cottages4you team are raising money for Pendleside Hospice. You can sponsor the team on their Just Giving page and find more info on the hospice website.

Ben’s Cycle Fest training diary pt 6

Wed 9th June - Not quite recovered from the weekend, seem to have picked a cold up in the big smoke, but managed an easy hour.

Thu 10th June - 1.5 hours. Went quite well despite feeling as rough as rats. Got up the nasty hill out of Carleton without having to get out of the saddle too often.

Sat 12th June - 2 hours – I figured the roads would be quiet whilst England were playing / chasing the ball around. They were, and I had probably the best ride of the year.

Sun 13th June - 3 hours – Got soaked, but didn’t care as my legs felt good. Got up to 47mph down Waddington Fell, but it did take 20 minutes to get up it first!

Tue 15th June - 1.5 hours – Hilly, still feeling good, but will it last…?

I think I may have found a secret weapon for getting around the course http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Nd13ARuvVE (Watch from about 1:40)

Ben is training for the National Cyclo-Sportive at this month’s Pendle Cycle Festival. Find more info on the event website.