Weekends are precious when it comes to cycling. Whether you cycle to work or not, the feeling of gliding down a road with no pressure to reach a destination is far more rewarding than the onslaught of traffic on your daily commute.
I get out on my bike as much as possible on a Saturday and Sunday - part of this is to get me from A to B, but mostly it’s about setting aside a few hours to explore somewhere new on two wheels. For me, that’s where the joy comes from, the part I most enjoy - cycling along routes I’ve never been before leaves me with that warm fuzzy feeling when I finish.
As a Londoner I have to make a concerted effort to find a new green space to savour. So, I’ll open Google Maps on my phone, zoom out to where I can see greenery in a nearby radius and cycle to it. Last weekend, this approach took me to Morden Hall Park, a National Trust site, 30 minutes away from where I live. Navigating through traffic on the way was tedious, but as I turned right into the park I instantly felt my body relax: traffic was replaced by cycle paths, it was green and the air felt cleaner. I cycled around the park several times and it was bliss.
I’m not the only one who looks forward to the new routes I find on my weekend rides: here are a selection of photos from our readers’ favourite cycles (including mine), with everything from short, 30-minute rides to intensive 80-milers.
Ditchling Beacon, Sussex
Henry Willis, 26, from Hassocks, said: “Ditchling Beacon is one of my favourites - the well-known summit in East Sussex is a must-do for any cycling enthusiast, whatever their ability. I like to race up as quick as possible, but to simply say you’ve ridden the Beacon without stopping is a feat. The zig-zagging hill is a Mecca for cyclists in the Brighton area and offers stunning views at the top.”
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW LIFESTYLE
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more
Portstewart, Northern Ireland
Frances Wilson, 63, from Northern Ireland, said: “My favourite weekend ride is from our home in Portstewart on the north coast of Northern Ireland to Malin Head, the most northerly point of the island of Ireland. The first part of the route takes us to Magilligan Point from where we make the short ferry crossing to Greencastle in Co Donegal. We cycle through moorland to Malin village before following the stunning coastline to Malin Head. We spend the night here enjoying the music, food and craic in the local pub. Being so far north and west the sunsets are amazing. The next day we return home. The total distance is 100 miles crossing two countries and enjoying spectacular scenery.”
Liz Naven, 29, from Brighton, said: “I usually enjoy a casual half-hour cycle with friends after Sunday lunch, taking in the gorgeous sea views along Brighton seafront. It’s an easy ride and an absolute treat when the sun is shining. I use the BTN BikeShare bikes as I don’t have my own!”
Ragil Pembayun, 38, who runs cycling website legwork.guide, said one of his favourite longer routes on the weekend goes 50 miles through the Yorkshire landscapes. “We head out from York Millennium Bridge towards Haxby, a small village just on the outskirt of York. This route, quite simply, has some decent climbs, long enough to accrue some mileage on your legs and most of all, you’ll come across some stunning Yorkshire landscapes. It’s a combination of A roads and country roads, but on a Sunday morning, you won’t come across many cars about, which is perfect.”
Bealach na Bà, Scotland
Lynda Parkin, 62, from Scotland, said her favourite long weekend ride was a 90-miler she did at the end of March this year: “I cycled Kinlochewe to Loch Carron then up the Bealach to Applecross and back via Shieldaig in Scotland. It took me seven hours three minutes and was 7,348ft of climbing! It was beyond my wildest dreams that at the age of 62 I would ever be able to achieve this route.”
Loweswater, Lake District
Leigh Gravenor, 35, from London, recalled one of his favourite rides which was the coast to coast (C2C) from Whitehaven to Tynemouth - around 145 miles. “I have done this route a number of times. The photo [below] was taken on a one-day trip. It takes in some of the best scenery England has to offer. I had some lovely quiet roads through the Lake District and after breakfast there was a fair few hills to tackle across the Pennines. It’s along the river to Tynemouth to dip the wheel in the North Sea, and then have a celebratory beer.”
Manifold Valley, Staffordshire
Heather C, 55, from Derbyshire, said: “My favourite little bike ride is past Thor’s Cave in the Manifold Valley, Staffordshire. You can cycle down the Manifold Valley on the cycle paths (an old railway line) and they are very quiet lanes so it’s safe. There are lovely wildflowers including pink purslane and mountain pansies and butterflies in the summer. We go for tea and cake at Wetton Mill.”
David Andrews, 60, from south Yorkshire, chose a route starting in Sheffield as being his favourite. “It goes over the Strines (a village) and back - the Strines has been classed as one of the best rides in several magazines. It has it all, scenery and hills. The final climb is known as ‘deliverance’, and it does almost deliver you to a higher place. It even feels that it has its own micro-climate where you can get all four seasons in one day.”