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Top tips for cycling locally

“It’s as easy as riding a bike” – Top Tips for getting back on your bike and exploring locally.

Recent times have led lots of us to dust off bikes that may have languished at the back of our garages and sheds for many years. Cycling presents an amazing way to explore your local area and enjoy the great outdoors and you can build your ride to suit you, your bike and your interests. We’ve pulled together some top tips to help you get back on your bike and make the most of your time on two wheels.

​1. Have Fun

First and foremost, the golden rule of getting on your bike is to have fun! Whizzing along, exploring new places with the wind in your hair, the bicycle is a really great chance to escape and boost benefits for your mental and physical health. Whatever you choose to tackle on two wheels, make having fun the central part of it.

Using OS maps on GPS
Man on bike downhill

2. Find some inspiration

When planning your ride, why not add a feature or point of interest to add in some adventure or keep your ride exciting. You will be amazed what you might find in your local area and using OS Maps you can discover a feature or area to build a route around.

Add in a woodland and see what wild flowers are in bloom, head to a lake to catch up with the local wildlife, or find some elevation if you are after a physical challenge and fancy getting the heart pumping with some hill ascents.

3. Plan ahead

Taking a bit of time to plan ahead and decide on a route will allow you to enjoy your ride more. There are several options for plotting a route – the wonderful thing about a bike is it can just about take you anywhere.

Firstly, consider what terrain you want to tackle. Is that road, off road or a mix of the two? Then have a think about the format of your ride. You could try an out and back route, keeping it simple and easy. Or build a circular route where you can loop together some points of interest. As you get more confident you can add on additional loops to your ride and build your knowledge of the area and your distance.

If you don’t feel confident planning your own route, why not have a look at other people’s routes in OS Maps? Just search 'discover routes' and select cycling and a whole host of routes will appear. You can filter by premium routes or those with top ratings and by the level of difficulty, distance and duration.

Discover your local cycling routes Riding in the hills

4. Take your route with you

When you are out on your bike you don’t want to be worried about remembering whether your next turn means heading left, right or straight on. So why not look at how to take your planned route with you? There’s low tech and low-cost ways of doing this if you are just setting out on reigniting your relationship with your bike and don’t want to blow your budget.

OS Maps allows you to save a route offline, or alternatively if you like to have a physical copy with you, you can print out your plotted route straight from OS Maps or take an OS Landranger Map in your backpack.

5. Be prepared

Before you head out make sure that you gather some simple bits together to make sure you can overcome any challenges you might face out on the road or trail. Depending on how long you’re hoping to be out for consider taking some refreshments to keep your fuelled. Take some fluids with you (why not pick up an OS bottle from our shop) plus some mid-ride snacks! A banana, flapjack, malt loaf or a handful of jelly babies are all great to keep your legs spinning. If your riding in cooler weather, make sure you are dresses for the occasion. Our handy guide on Winter Riding will help you get prepared.

It’s also important to be able to keep your bike running as well as yourself. Carry a spare inner tube and pump, and a multi-tool so you can avert any mechanical mishaps.

Two people cycling
GPS showing route

6. Keep it simple

If you are starting off on your cycling journey again, don’t be drawn into rushing into massive challenges straight away. If you enjoy your riding your fitness and skills will quickly develop and will be able to venture further and wider.

But early on, keep your ride simple. Start local and short and make sure you enjoy it. You don’t want to exhaust yourself and retire the bike to the back of the shed for another 10 years.

Man holding bike in air
GPS on bike

7. Make use of the National Cycle Network

Discover quieter cycling routes with the free Sustrans National Cycle Network layer on OS Maps.

The Sustrans National Cycle Network includes 16,575-miles of traffic-free and quiet on-road cycling and walking routes throughout the UK. What's more, they all situated within a mile of over half of every UK citizen making it easier for people to get back on their bike and enjoy a great local ride. Maintained by over 3200 Sustrans volunteers and community members, these leisurely routes are a safe place to learn, disconnect and forget.

You can now access this vast variety of routes across the UK, using a FREE layer on OS Maps Web.

Discover the National Cycling Network

8. Celebrate YOUR adventure!

The wonderful thing about cycling is you can adapt it to you and your interests and level. From road riding on local lanes to an off-road adventure on nearby bridleways, a short family spin around the local park to a fast paced hill climbing session, you can change your riding from day to day to suit you.

Whatever you do, celebrate it. Share your adventure, and respect those of others.

Tag us in your adventures and #GetOutside

Plan your next cycling adventure with os maps More on cycling

Published 14/05/2020. Edited 17/08/2020