First cycle tour

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Re: First cycle tour

Postby Vorpal » 14 May 2016, 7:40am

Can you plan a route that leaves you some alternatives? I don't know that part of the country, but in most places, it's possible to plan for at least a couple of alternatives. If you are going to stay in B&Bs, you could pick one that is 50ish miles away, then plan a route with a scenic loop, perhpas with a tourist destination or a secondary goal? At or near the end is best. Then you can decide on the day if you feel up to the longer route.

I often do that sort of thing (at shorter distances) travelling with kids, because they make the day unpredictable :mrgreen:
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Re: First cycle tour

Postby Phileas » 14 May 2016, 8:35am

Since it will only be a short test-tour, not very far from home, I'm not too worried about things going tits up.

But really, barring injuries, the worst that is likely to happen is that it takes me an hour or two longer to reach my destination than expected and I get a sore backside. I'm more concerned about route-finding delays than getting physically tired.

As they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Anyway, the Devon C2C does look interesting (if a little boringly flat). I actually did the walking version in 2012 across Dartmoor and Exmoor between Wembury and Lynemouth (6 1/2 days with ankle tendonitis and other ailments for the last 4 days so I'm used to pushing on regardless :D ).

Are the NCN routes well signposted generally? I'll be taking GPS gadgets and maps with me but I prefer it when I can progress smoothly without spending much time orienteering.

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Re: First cycle tour

Postby mjr » 14 May 2016, 9:35am

I'd go east or west from Bristol as you're unlikely to see that on an end to end. South Wales seems attractive but heading to Wiltshire will be a gentler introduction to touring.

I've recently done my first tour and was doing 50-60 miles a day but I think 40-45 would be a better number for planning. It may well end up as 50+ after a few wrong turns and unexpected road closures anyway.

NCN routes are mostly well signposted but it does vary depending on how much volunteer time and council support Sustrans has in an area. They do also often go the long way round, which I think is in order to pass close to more houses, to meet their "within x miles of y% of the population" aim, but that may be less annoying for touring than transport.
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Re: First cycle tour

Postby Phileas » 17 May 2016, 6:58pm

Ok, I've come up with a plan.

3 day tour:
Bristol - Abergavenny
- Cardiff (or perhaps Caerphilly or somewhere in general area)
- Bristol

I can decide on the day how far to ride by making use of the various NCNs running up and down the valleys. I'll probably camp at Abergavenny.

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Re: First cycle tour

Postby Phileas » 27 May 2016, 3:26pm

I'm leaving tomorrow and this is my current plan:
Sat - Bristol to Abergavenny perhaps with an extra loop the the east depending on time etc.
Sun - Hay-on-Wye-Brecon-Merthyr (possibly not entering Hay and Brecon)
Mon - return via Newport.
(Merthyr Tydfil is a fixed point since I've now booked a hotel room.)

I'm guessing Sunday will be moderately challenging.

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Re: First cycle tour

Postby whoof » 27 May 2016, 3:47pm

The Gospel Pass is nice from that direction.
If you don't want to camp and are looking for somewhere cheap to stay in Abergavenny you could try here.

There's a yellow warning of rain (up to 20mm in an hour) in the Bristol/South Wales area for Saturday, well it is Bank Holiday.

Might bump into you are we are considering
Saturday- Bristol- Gloucester- Forest of Dean
Sunday Forest of Dean -South Wales- Chepstow-Bristol

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Re: First cycle tour

Postby Phileas » 27 May 2016, 4:19pm

Thanks for the hostel tip, although I probably prefer camping to hostels. (The hotel room rates are beyond my usual budget.)

I suppose our paths could cross - I'm guessing the NCNs are "busy" on bank holiday weekends?

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Re: First cycle tour

Postby bainbridge » 29 May 2016, 5:49pm

I think it's wise to do a day ride (or two) fully loaded to get a feel for what you want your daily target to be.

I did a 4 day tour back from Bodmin to Bristol for my first tour, staying in B and B's, really enjoyed it.

Winter storms had washed away the railtrack so I ended up hiring a car to take the bike down, then rode back stopping over in Bude, Umberleigh and Taunton.

Another lovely ride from Bristol is over the old Severn Bridge and up to Abergavenny, it's about 50 miles.

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Re: First cycle tour

Postby Phileas » 30 May 2016, 8:48pm

Home now.

It was very enjoyable trip and I learned a lot, such as:

I originally guessed I'd be able to cycle at an average of 10mph without too much effort but I now see that this is slightly optimistic, or at least when following NCN routes through hilly country and loaded up.
In the end, according to, my days were as follows:
1. Bristol-Abergavenny 53m 1100meters of climbing.
2. Abergavenny-Hay-Brecon-Mertyr (including accidental 8 mile detour) 73m 1600meters
3. Merthyr-Bristol 81m 900meters
I admit days 2 & 3 were a bit longer/harder than I would want frequently.

I think if I do JOGLE, I'll go for the non-camping option.

I found early on that I really needed a couple of lower gears. This wasn't very surprising - the bike I used is what I call my shopping bike, actually it's a CX style bike. Consequently I ran out of puff at the top of Gospel Pass and had to dismount and push for a few yards. Similarly on the way to Brecon, at one point I physically couldn't turn the pedals round and pushed for 50m or so.

I got a bit of neck ache while cycling and my upper body is everywhere sensitive to the touch.

My left knee was hurting towards the end of the trip.

Also my backside kept overheating - I was wearing Endurance Humvee shorts with liners. In future I might wear Lycra shorts and keep a pair of baggy shorts for modesty.

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Re: First cycle tour

Postby Heltor Chasca » 30 May 2016, 9:26pm

Well done. Some respectable mileage...b