There is an amazing range of cycling opportunities in the UK. For a long time the focus in Scotland and Wales has been mountain biking – and rightly so. These small but stunning countries boast a huge network of off-road trails to ride. Yet Scotland and Wales also have a wealth of road cycling, which is all too often overlooked. Many of the tarmacked routes are family friendly and follow mostly traffic-free cycle paths.
This summer why not get out and explore on a road bike?
Bikes and clothing for road cycling
The kind of bike that you would want for road rides is a hybrid or a road bike, which boast smoother tyres. Mountain bikes are fine but their chunkier tyres can be slow-going on tarmac. Why not swap knobbly mountain bike tyres for a smoother tyre option? Ask at your local bike shop for advice.
If you are simply heading out for an enjoyable ride with the family you don’t need any special cycle clothing apart from a safety helmet. For added comfort, you could wear padded
shorts or fit a comfy bike seat to your bike. A waterproof jacket is a great asset for our fickle weather! A technical baselayer will also help to keep your skin dry if you sweat a little. Treat the kids to an active t-shirt, too.
Three great places for cycling in Wales
1. Castell Coch, Cardiff
A 14-mile return riverside ride along the Taff river with the fairytale-style Castell Coch attraction en route. The route is on tarmac and mainly traffic-free. There’s a café in Castell Coch.
2. Mawddach Trail, Snowdonia
A spectacular 19-mile return route from historic Dolgellau to the beach at Barmouth. On either side are the foothills of Cader Idris and the beautiful Mawddach estuary. Tarmac and traffic-free. Refreshments in Penmaenpool and Barmouth.
3. North Wales Coastal Cycle Route
A wonderful 14-mile return seaside ride along a promenade extends from Rhos-on-Sea to Prestatyn. You’ll enjoy beaches and piers and ice-cream stops in Colwyn Bay. Tarmac and traffic-free. Refreshments in Colwyn Bay.
Three great places for cycling in Scotland
1. West Loch Lomond Cycle path
Cycle along the western shore of fabulous Loch Lomond in central Scotland. The 15-mile route is from Balloch to Tarbet, or vice versa, with a train ride to return. The view of the mountain Ben Lomond across on the eastern shore is stunning. Tarmac and mainly traffic-free. Refreshments at one of numerous small villages on the banks of the loch.
2. Union Canal bike ride
Seven miles from Linlithgow to Falkirk (return by train or bike) on a smooth, flat and traffic-free route. You’ll cycle alongside the picturesque Union Canal finishing at the popular tourist attraction of the Falkirk Wheel. Café at the Wheel.
3. Loch Katrine steamboat and cycle outing
You’ll love the adventure of catching the SS Sir Walter Scott steamboat from Trossachs Pier, near Brig o’ Turk and Aberfoyle. Take your bike on the boat and then disembark to cycle back along a 10-mile traffic-free tarmac road. The SS Sir Walter Scott is the only such steamer boat providing regular passenger services in Scotland and has been sailing Loch Katrine since 1900. The cycleway stays close to the side of stunning Loch Katrine. Take a picnic and make a day of it. The reward is at the end with refreshments at the Captain’s Rest café. To avoid disappointment phone ahead for steamboat sailings on tel: 01877 376 316.
Tell us about your favourite road cycling trips.