Monday, 13 February 2012

Guided Cycle Touring

A large appeal of cycling for me is cycle-touring. It is one of the many facets of cycling that encouraged me back on to two wheels in 2008. I had have visions of taking off on an extended cycle trip to far flung areas for weeks or even months. Something I would will organise myself and be as self sufficient as possible.

Such a trip remains an ambition I may never achieve but in the meantime I do enjoy the little cycle tours I can fit in around other commitments. On these multi-day trips (rather than multi-week or month) I carry a fair bit of kit including camping and cooking stuff, plan the route myself rather than just follow a signed way and like to set my own pace for the most part (for 'own pace' read travel alone!). I want adventure not cosseting.

I know these kind of trips are not everyone's cup of tea and I am certainly not averse to other versions of cycle touring. Currently I am trying to bring together family, friends and dates for a four day trip following the Way of the Roses (WotR) from Morecambe to Bridlington this Summer. This will be a lightweight cycle tour, carrying just the minimal kit, covering less than 50 miles per day and staying in pre-booked B&B/hostels. I'm really looking forward to it.

I have been guided on a cycle tour myself in the past and thoroughly enjoyed it. This was back in 2010 in New York and it was a cycle tour of lower Manhattan lasting a few hours. I loved it. I also hope to go on a guided tour of London at some point. I have even toyed with the idea of setting up my own guided cycle tours of Manchester but I think I would struggle trying to compete with the attractions of the Big Apple and London!

So I am quite intrigued by what Will, a fellow cycle blogger (of WillCycle) is setting up in Devon where he lives. He is offering guided cycle tours lasting 2-3 days following the Devon Coast to Coast cycle route (AKA National Cycle Network 27). This runs north-south (or vice-versa) from Ilfracombe to Plymouth, utilises some picturesque cycle paths such as the Tarka Trail, Granite Way and Drake's Trail and follows old railway lines through gorgeous countryside for large parts - always a winning combination in my book. 

He knows other companies offer cycle tours in the area that provide directions and a baggage carrying service but his is different. These will be escorted trips by a cyclist who lives in the area and knows the history and geography well. What I really enjoyed about my guided trip in New York was the guide who escorted us and gave our little group a rich insight into a fascinating place in a short period of time. Get this right and you are halfway there IMO.

I wish him well with his venture and will follow his progress with just a little envy*. If you have ever fancied dipping your toe into the cycle touring lark but aren't ready for or don't fancy solo touring then what better place to start than with an escorted trip through one of England's most beautiful areas. This is his company website.

*The MiddleAgeCyclist has not received any payment (monetary or otherwise) for this blog post and genuinely just wants to help out a fellow cycle blogger with a great sounding business venture. Thank you.


  1. I believe that Manchester is the third most visited city in the UK by overseas tourists, although the more cynical side of me expects that this is due to it being a convenient layover point between London and Edinburgh. Still, there might be enough demand for your venture to pay off

  2. Interesting. I rode the Devon C2C last year as part of a longer 'credit-card' tour with my regular riding buddy. Travelling light and staying in B&Bs has always appealed to me, partly due to the possibility of doing bigger mileages each day, and partly due to the shower and nice warm bed at the end of the day!!

    I can see how having accommodation pre-arranged and lots of local knowledge (for sneaky diversions to see stuff you would otherwise miss) might be attractive. Good luck to the guy; it is a beautiful route.

    As an aside, I like the idea of a tour of Manchester that would culminate in a trip to see a track meeting (Revolutions etc) at the velodrome, followed by a few pints of, erm, shandy!