Ulster Cycling News


<< Leisure Cycling

Cycle touring is a very broad term and encompasses those who plan day trips away on the bike to full week trips. Some go even further and take off to do epic journeys around the world. Those who plan their tours do so to discover new places at their own oace. There is no pressure to be at anyone place at any particular time. There is time to stop and have lunch, enjoy a coffee or a beer and take in the ambience of a small village or a mountain vista. When you have cycled a fair distance you really enjoy your food. It tastes so much better because to have worked to get there.

Nowadays commercial cycle tours are big business around the world and many local cyclists have explored Spain and France for example through these companies. These companies can offer all the benefits of four star hotels, airport transfers with bike, and guided tours.  However there is nothing to stop you do it yourself. Whether it is a day trip around the Antrim coast, a week in the Pyrenees or a trans America journey the essential requirement is good planning. There is no point in heading to explore the Mournes if you find yourself hungry and unable to carry on and are many miles from the nearest shop.

With the internet the world is opened up for cyclists to decide where they want to go, what distance they think they could manage in one day, where to stay and what they would need for a day’s cycling. It is also important to enjoy the day so twenty miles along a major dual carriageway is hardly enjoyable. If you chose quieter roads and lanes, carry essentials in both tools and food, plan for stops, take in local beauty spots and know how far you can cycle then the trip becomes a journey of exploration and much more enjoyable.

Choosing a bike

You do not need to purchase a special bike for touring although those who are self sufficient and do not want the services of a luggage pick-up etc will choose a bike suitable for their purposes. A good touring bike will capable of taking panniers so that you can pack clothing and camping equipment for overnight stops. A typical touring bike will also have a more comfortable feel so that you can travel longer distances and it usually has mudguards.  As the site progresses we will add more information about choosing a bike for long touring.


However many cyclists, both competitive and leisure riders will use their normal bike if they do not need to carry excessive equipment. And although most touring is carried out on a road bike, mountain bikes can be used and there are also some routes which are more suitable for off road riding.

Anyone who has explored the Alps or the Pyrenees in a car for example and then manages to do it on the bike will tell you that it is a totally different experience.  You can stop and look down into the valleys or watch the eagles soar above you. You will be tempted to cycle through the narrow cobbled streets of a village where you would never bring a car and you can park your bike on a grassy slope while you lie in the sun and relax before heading on.

As the site progresses we hope to bring you more specific information, stories and routes related to touring.

In the meantime read Brian Shaw’s experience of touring in the Pyrenees in 2011. Brian Shaw and Kelly Donnelly are young members of Spires CC who have only recently got into cycling. More used to beach and city break holidays they decided to branch out and try a cycling holiday for a change. It was an experience neither will forget.

Cowbells and Bicycles by Brian Shaw Spires CC