How to plan a bike adventure

Emma Frampton By Emma Frampton

Emma Frampton gives you 12 steps on how to plan the perfect cycling adventure!

When it comes to planning an adventure, people generally fall into one of two camps - the avid planners or the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pant-ers.

Both are valid ways to roll, and there’s no right or wrong. But depending on how far away or complex your adventure is, sometimes a bit of a plan can be useful.

OS Maps makes it easy to plan an epic bike adventure and navigate when in the saddle.

Here are 12 steps to help you on your way.

Bikes leaning against a bench

12 steps for planning a bike adventure

1. Decide if you’d like to go on your own for a solo challenge or share the experience with friends or family

2. Choose when you want to go - is it a specific time of year/season you'd like to see, or prefer it to be more spur-of-the-moment

3. Decide where you want to go - leaving from your front door or jumping on a train to explore another pocket of the UK?

Find cycling routes with OS Maps

4. Suss out how long you’d like to go away for - an overnight trip, weekend excursion or longer

5. Agree what kind of terrain you'd like to cycle - road, friendly off-road, mountain biking - and the level of difficulty

6. Decide if you’d like to camp or stay in accommodation (so that you don’t need to carry camping gear with you although, it will cost more)

7. Decide if you’d like to cook along the way or eat out (so that you don’t need to carry cooking gear with you although, it will cost more)

8. Suss out how you’d like to carry your gear - panniers or frame-bags. There’s no right or wrong, and you can do a combination9. Once you’ve decided the type of cycling you’d like to do, the level of difficulty, and style of eating and accommodation (so you’re aware of the amenities you’d need to pass through), research routes.

Let your fingers work the magic! The researching can be exciting and overwhelming, as there can be so many options. But don’t let choice paradox put you off; any other routes can go on your cycling list for another adventure. Browse the internet for popular cycle touring/backpacking routes and head over to OS Maps to find thousands of tried and tested cycle routes. If there's a particular place you'd like to visit, or facility you'd like to reach (like a campsite), you can create your own route in OS Maps. Use the Aerial 3D feature to fly-through a route and get a good understanding of the terrain, viewpoints, and points of interest. If you're after a more leisurely ride, use the Sustran National Cycle Network to find traffic-free routes across Great Britain.

Bikes at the coast

10. Once you’ve decided on the route, book anything as needed - train ticket with space for bicycle, campsites etc

11. Prep your gear, making sure your bike has been serviced and you have everything else you may need

12. Depending on where you found your route, load it onto your phone with OS Maps to you can navigate on the move. If you're likely to be out of phone signal, consider taking a paper map, as well as a portable phone charger, and for safety purposes make sure someone else knows when you’re going...

Other things to consider before heading away

If there’s any kit you’re missing, don’t let this stop you! There are so many communities out there, with people willing to lend you kit. And even local outdoor shops can rent you equipment.

Consider attending a bike course if you haven’t been on one for a while. Most local bike shops offer a basic bike course which cover changing tyres etc. Read our bike maintenance guide here.

If you’re planning to head away for a few days and not likely going to be close to towns, but haven’t been on a bike adventure before or are just using a different set-up to usual, consider going on a test ride first.

It doesn’t have to be far, just a couple of hours from your front door to check everything works and feels comfortable.

Bike outside a castle wall

Now, it's time to cycle off for an incredible bike adventure, enjoy!

When riding, please be a considerate cyclist.

Plan and navigate with OS Maps More on cycling National Cycle Network

Edited: 23.03.2021

Emma Frampton By Emma Frampton


Emma is a co-founder of Adventure Queens, explorer of London & beyond, hiker and cyclist.

Find out more about Emma Frampton.