How To Plan And Follow Local Cycling Routes
The last thing you want to do when you go for a bike ride in the Yorkshire countryside is find yourself cycling on the hard shoulder of the M62, or walking your shiny bike through a muddy field. Planning a good bike route requires a little preparation, but once you’ve started to find good routes, you’ll quickly find great paths and roads you didn’t know existed.
Finding The Right Roads And Cycle Paths
Ideally, the perfect road to cycle on is either totally or partially free from cars and traffic. While sometimes it’s unavoidable, having lorries speed past you is never enjoyable. At the same time, you don’t want to end up too ‘off-road’, where you can’t even cycle. Using google maps to see what kind of road/path is always a good idea if you don’t know the road.
A good place to start is hunting down your local cycle paths. Towpaths are ideal and often double up as cycling hotspots. Canals are flat, and also easy to follow, plus you won’t have cars whizzing past you.
The Rochdale Canal features the highest broad canal lock in England (600ft above sea level!), and is a good local waypoint to aim for. Plotting this on a map and either driving to your start point or setting off directly from home, you can find out the total mileage and make sure it’s within your ability/fitness level. It’s worth checking your total elevation too, i.e. the amount of hills you’ll be pedalling up.
One well known local off road route is the Mary Towneley Loop, which takes you from Warland across moorland to Todmorden, continuing through the Calder Valley to eventually bring you out at Hebden Bridge.
Some will prefer to keep it simple and use a physical map, but why do that when you have GPS and map planning available on almost any smartphone? There are plenty of handy mounts out there to attach your phone to your handlebars (word of caution here, look for a ‘quadlock’ system), making it easy to follow your pre-planned route. Google maps offer basic route planning, and a quick google reveals plenty of other apps out there specially designed to find cycle friendly paths.
If you’ve got a little more budget, modern cycle computers will feature turn-by-turn directions meaning you can keep your phone safely stowed away.
Think About Cafés, Too
When you’re planning your route, you never want to forget lunch, coffee and cake, or even a pint at the end of your ride. Pay attention to cafés and pubs on your route, which will double as comfort breaks, too. It gives you a chance to break up your cycle and cake is always a good incentive to keep pedalling. One of our favourites in Sowerby Bridge is the Alma Inn where you’ll find some handy bike racks sponsored by Happy Days Cycles.