Holidays and bicycles
By Andy Chivers
It’s holiday time, and though our travel options are more restricted than we might like, many of us are choosing British destinations for a holiday. No doubt hotel and B&B owners hope the experience is positive to encourage us to continue with local holidays, but my interest is in what we do when we are on holiday. For many it is a chance to explore a local area, do different things and enjoy a break from routines. A bicycle is a perfect companion in this situation, especially for families with children where the combination of off-road trails and novel scenery with the independence and excitement of riding a bike is hard to beat.
UK holidays are usually be reached by car so taking bikes is more practical, but often there are bike hire companies at popular sites such as the Forest of Dean or the Camel Trail. For those travelling by train, there are hire shops close to many holiday railway stations, such as Windermere, Penzance or Brighton. A little internet searching will soon find what is available in your area. But bikes can offer more than a leisure ride. In the relaxed setting of a holiday, using a bike to go to the shops turns the trip into an adventure rather than a chore. It’s easy to stop at interesting spots on the way, and avoids the hassle of parking in an unknown town. Again, a bit of research before hand may help you decide if such an option is feasible for you and your family.
Some people plan day bike rides from a central spot to explore the area around them and with a fixed base there’s no need to be heavily laden. Converted disused railways offer long flat routes which allow all abilities to enjoy the ride. In the summer many have cafes open along the route and there are always nice spots to stop for a picnic. Being in a single place means that you can stay at home if the weather is bad. I have stayed in many B&Bs and self-catering places and without exception there have been safe places to leave bikes, usually under cover, but it’s worth asking in advance to be sure. E-bike hire is now almost as popular as hiring ordinary bikes and the number of shops offering this has increased a lot in the last 12 months. Again this allows people of different abilities to ride together – and it’s impossible to ride an e-bike without a smile on your face.
At the end of the scale are holidays that are moving on bike rides. Again this is much easier than it used to be, with companies providing bikes, planning routes and transporting your luggage to the next day’s destination. Some people like to plan their routes and carry all their stuff, compromising on those smart evening clothes or the number of books they travel with.
Whatever your holiday, a bike will add enjoyment and companionship. For children riding along a Sustrans path may be their most exciting achievement of the holiday. Think about how a bike could fit into your next holiday – you won’t regret it.