What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Specific board for this popular undertaking.
nun
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Joined: 31 Dec 2019, 12:56am

What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby nun » 3 Jan 2020, 12:37am

I'm going to be flying from the US to the UK to do LEJOG this summer. I'm in no particular hurry as I will also be stopping on the way to visit with family. So with that in mind what do you think of the Sustran Route and this book. I want a good comprehensive guide to keep me straight and get the most out of my trip. I'll be riding a Specialized Diverge. Or do you have recommendations for another route an guide book?

https://shop.sustrans.org.uk/lands-end- ... le-network

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Paulatic
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby Paulatic » 3 Jan 2020, 8:00am

A search
search.php?st=0&sk=t&sd=d&sr=posts&keywords=Sustrans+route&fid%5B%5D=22
Gives 26 pages of opinion.
It’s long and at times, because it’s Sustrans, will be torturous. It will keep you off busy roads and it will test your navigation skills. The quality of Surfaces will uNdoubtably be variable.
If you’re in no rush and the right frame of mind then it could be very enjoyable. If you feel you need to get somewhere then that’s often not a Sustrans route.
Whatever I am, wherever I am, this is me. This is my life

https://stcleve.wordpress.com/category/lejog/

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robgul
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby robgul » 3 Jan 2020, 8:33am

Don't! For the reasons suggested - there are number of blogs online where people have started out on the Sustrans route and abandoned in frustration.

Many, many established routes are available in (other) published books, blogs and websites (including my own - see below)

Time taken to plan YOUR route (you mention seeing family etc) will be well spent and add to the enjoyment of what is a great ride. [When you stand astride your bike at LE or JOG it does look like a very long way!]

Rob

nun
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby nun » 3 Jan 2020, 1:42pm

robgul wrote:Don't! For the reasons suggested - there are number of blogs online where people have started out on the Sustrans route and abandoned in frustration.

Many, many established routes are available in (other) published books, blogs and websites (including my own - see below)

Time taken to plan YOUR route (you mention seeing family etc) will be well spent and add to the enjoyment of what is a great ride. [When you stand astride your bike at LE or JOG it does look like a very long way!]

Rob


When I rode from London to North Yorkshire a few years ago I tried some NCN routes and ended up crossing some fields and getting back onto the road through a hedgerow, so that experience is being confirmed by the comments. I'll look for another route.

I can't comprehend an entire tour when I'm riding it, just the next day or two. This is why I like to have a guide of some sort. In the US that might just be something on Google maps, but as I'm coming to the UK and using my phone will be expensive even with an overseas data plan I like to have an old fashioned paper guide book and map.

Jan Marten
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby Jan Marten » 3 Jan 2020, 3:24pm

Download an offline mapping app, Osmand or Maps.me. IMO Maps.me great for route planning, Osmand better for on-the-day use.

And of course Google Maps can be downloaded for offline use.
Ride, Eat, Sleep. Repeat

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 3 Jan 2020, 5:08pm

South of Carlisle I've probably ridden most of the routes selected by Sustrans for their LEJOG guidebook. They're fine on either of my usual steeds (Genesis Croix de Fer, Bike Friday NWT) so should be no problem on a Diverge. The only section I'd have particularly worried about is Bewdley-Bridgnorth and I was assured recently on this forum that it's not as bad now as last time I rode it; the guidebook does suggest a detour at nearby Chelmarsh Reservoir.

North of Carlisle the Sustrans route is mostly standard LEJOG fare anyway - maybe a bit detoury around Glasgow.

It's certainly a three-week (or even four-week) route rather than a two-week one, but that's fine - different strokes for different folks. If you've got the time then I wouldn't rule it out.

As with any guidebook, details can change - I've spotted locations in Manchester and Worcester where redevelopment means the mapped route isn't quite right. But as the new bridge in Worcester only opened a week or so ago I can probably forgive that. ;)
cycle.travel - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides

tim_f
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby tim_f » 3 Jan 2020, 5:14pm

On a tour in the UK I like to plan my own route combining bits of Sustrans routes with my own choice of roads.

Easy to do this on one of the open cycle map based online planners with shows the national cycle routes. Can also switch to satellite photo view to get an idea of the surface.

Often how viable a Sustrans route is will depend on the weather.

I did a trip around England and Wales this summer and some of the best bits were on canal tow paths and former railway lines.
Some good canal paths up from Runcorn to Preston and through to Lancaster. But some sections i rode on roads and some on the canal paths, variety add interest. Good to mix both during a day.

I was on 28 mm tyres with fenders/mudguards. Had to scrape out mud a couple of times of the mudguards. On a diverge you should be fine on any off road sustrans sections.

Sometimes whilst riding a route or looking at the map one thinks route looks longer than it needs to be, and then when one rides it and finds it goes that way to pass a place of historic interest.

ill be expensive even with an overseas data plan


You can pick up a UK Sim on a pay as you go basis very cheaply in the UK and get a lot of data for very little money. ASDA supermarket (owned buy Walmart) is one place to get one from. https://mobile.asda.com/

Having a data connection is so useful to check out weather, nearest supermarket, accommodation, cafe etc.

If you want a book I recommend "The End to End Cycle Route: Land's End to John o' Groats"

Paperback
Publisher: Cicerone Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1852848588
ISBN-13: 978-1852848583

On my End to End few years back I followed the route up to Scotland where I went via Aviemore rather then Fort William.

nun
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby nun » 3 Jan 2020, 5:27pm

I just downloaded Maps.me and it looks useful. That will take a lot of the pressure as online Google maps with a roaming charge can be very expensive. I think I'll get the Cicerone guide and use that as my foundation.

My usual mode of touring in the US is to use Google Maps and Booking.com a lot. I come up with a reasonable goal for the day based on weather, terrain and my schedule and book a motel, hostel or campsite the night before or in the morning. So I do plan to get a month's international phone plan, but if I can limit the data usage and book using phone calls that seems like a good plan.

hamster
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby hamster » 3 Jan 2020, 5:42pm

Forget about your US phone provider, they are an outright rip-off.
Buy a pay-as-you go SIM over here and enjoy our mobile charges which are around 1/3 of US prices. You can get mobile SIMs in supermarkets.

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CJ
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby CJ » 3 Jan 2020, 6:00pm

Viewranger is better app than Maps.me, because the free mapping is Open Cycle Map that depicts all of the bikepaths as blue dashes (plus bridlepaths in green, footpaths in red) and highlights the Sustrans routes - plus it has contours. Downloading sections of this mapping for offline use is tediously slow and you'll need a memory card, but it works and is also free.
Chris Juden
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nun
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Joined: 31 Dec 2019, 12:56am

Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby nun » 3 Jan 2020, 6:11pm

hamster wrote:Forget about your US phone provider, they are an outright rip-off.
Buy a pay-as-you go SIM over here and enjoy our mobile charges which are around 1/3 of US prices. You can get mobile SIMs in supermarkets.


I never know how much data I'm using or how much to buy. I have an unlimited plan in the US so I've never tracked how much data I use by opening and searching Google maps 10 or 20 times a day when on tour. Looking at this website that sells International SIMs it looks like 1Gig of data should be ok as I will use wifi whenever possible and as for the radio even though I use my iphone for that in the US as it gives me access to Radio4 I always use a small Sony radio on tour.

https://www.worldsim.com/uk-sim-card?___store=usa

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 3 Jan 2020, 6:50pm

You don't say whether you're Android or iPhone - if the latter, MapOut is an excellent mobile map viewing app, memory-efficient vector display (unlike Viewranger etc.) yet with all the detail needed for cycling.
cycle.travel - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides

mfpnl
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby mfpnl » 3 Jan 2020, 6:57pm

I did a LEJOG a couple of years ago with my son using a mix of the SUSTRANS route and the Cicerone route. We were grateful for the quality advice that we got from this board.

In short we used SUSTRANS for Land's End to Bristol, switched to Ciceone at Long Ashton (s/w Bristol) until we got to Glasgow (made side trip to Hay on Wye) and then switched back to SUSTRANS for Glasgow to John o'Groats.

We all make these journeys for different reasons - and we all have different constraints (time, money, fitness and so on). I just wanted to spend time riding/camping with my son and I wanted to see parts of the UK that I'd not seen before. Above all, I wanted to avoid was busy roads - hence my interest in the SUSTRANS route. However, I was also conscious that I didn't want to get drawn into the SUSTRANS-trap of being routed through an area because the track was funded out of some inner-city regeneration scheme. So for example, Manchester is a great Northern city, but why would I want to cycle through Moss Side and Whalley Range (SUSTRANS) when I could stay west and go over Belmont and through the Forest of Bowland (Cicerone)? Maybe there's more accommodation in Manchester - but our preferred option was camping anyway. We just used the cheap hotel chains when we needed/wanted to stay in a town or city.

Reading through the responses you've had so far, they all make sense to me. Like you, we didn't have a particular time-window. We also wanted to call in at friends and family along the way so we flexed our route to include places like Appledore, Hay on Wye and Grassmere). I agree with what's been said about phones/SIM cards. I pay £7 a month from Tesco and didn't get anywhere near my data allowance on LEJOG. I'd recommend installing the apps for chains like Travelodge and Premier Inns on your phone. It makes searching and booking simpler. We also found Wikicamps app useful for finding and booking 'hostels' (particularly good in Scotland where we enjoyed being amongst fellow travellers - rather than gangs of contract plasterers/pipe fitters).

Bike-wise, I'm sure your gravel-style bike will be fine. We were on Airminal Joeys with 24" wheels and 1.5 tyres. The forest tracks in Scotland where a bit rough in places but nothing they couldn't handle.

One final piece of advise. I told my son before we set off that my customary "no mid-week drinking" rule would still apply. This turned out to be was a rubbish idea! We drank wonderful local beers in Sennen and John o'Groats and in every stop in-between. Best pint? Goldfinch, Black Isle Brewery Inverness.

nun
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Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby nun » 3 Jan 2020, 7:48pm

Richard Fairhurst wrote:You don't say whether you're Android or iPhone - if the latter, MapOut is an excellent mobile map viewing app, memory-efficient vector display (unlike Viewranger etc.) yet with all the detail needed for cycling.


I have an unlocked iPhone so I'll look at MapOut right now. Some sort of offline map and a few gigs on a UK SIM seem like a good solution to my navigation issues.

nun
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Joined: 31 Dec 2019, 12:56am

Re: What's your opinion of the Sustran Route

Postby nun » 3 Jan 2020, 7:56pm

mfpnl wrote:I did a LEJOG a couple of years ago with my son using a mix of the SUSTRANS route and the Cicerone route. We were grateful for the quality advice that we got from this board.

In short we used SUSTRANS for Land's End to Bristol, switched to Ciceone at Long Ashton (s/w Bristol) until we got to Glasgow (made side trip to Hay on Wye) and then switched back to SUSTRANS for Glasgow to John o'Groats.

We all make these journeys for different reasons - and we all have different constraints (time, money, fitness and so on). I just wanted to spend time riding/camping with my son and I wanted to see parts of the UK that I'd not seen before. Above all, I wanted to avoid was busy roads - hence my interest in the SUSTRANS route. However, I was also conscious that I didn't want to get drawn into the SUSTRANS-trap of being routed through an area because the track was funded out of some inner-city regeneration scheme. So for example, Manchester is a great Northern city, but why would I want to cycle through Moss Side and Whalley Range (SUSTRANS) when I could stay west and go over Belmont and through the Forest of Bowland (Cicerone)? Maybe there's more accommodation in Manchester - but our preferred option was camping anyway. We just used the cheap hotel chains when we needed/wanted to stay in a town or city.

Reading through the responses you've had so far, they all make sense to me. Like you, we didn't have a particular time-window. We also wanted to call in at friends and family along the way so we flexed our route to include places like Appledore, Hay on Wye and Grassmere). I agree with what's been said about phones/SIM cards. I pay £7 a month from Tesco and didn't get anywhere near my data allowance on LEJOG. I'd recommend installing the apps for chains like Travelodge and Premier Inns on your phone. It makes searching and booking simpler. We also found Wikicamps app useful for finding and booking 'hostels' (particularly good in Scotland where we enjoyed being amongst fellow travellers - rather than gangs of contract plasterers/pipe fitters).

Bike-wise, I'm sure your gravel-style bike will be fine. We were on Airminal Joeys with 24" wheels and 1.5 tyres. The forest tracks in Scotland where a bit rough in places but nothing they couldn't handle.

One final piece of advise. I told my son before we set off that my customary "no mid-week drinking" rule would still apply. This turned out to be was a rubbish idea! We drank wonderful local beers in Sennen and John o'Groats and in every stop in-between. Best pint? Goldfinch, Black Isle Brewery Inverness.


Thanks v much for this detailed response.

I never make rules about not drinking on tour and when I did my cross US trip a few years ago I really enjoyed a couple of cold beers after the day's ride, nothing too heavy, just a generic American larger which was cold and refreshing.

Mow much data do you get for that 7 quid from Tesco. I can get 2Gb on a UK SIM for $20 from an online store which I like as it's just one less thing to do when I get to the UK.