how to start cycling

Fancy spicing up your cycling? Well, adventurer Sean Conway could help you out! He's revealed his top 5 UK cycle routes, ranging from shorter spins to longer rides. So, if you're set on jumping into the saddle and seeing some stunning sights, have a read and give a few of Sean's fave routes a go!

"You’ve been training hard on the bike for months. You’ve managed to get through a horrendous winter where your eyelids have frozen shut from long cold descents, your hands have lost all feeling and you’ve bought shares in a kitchen foil company because you’ve put so much in your shoes as insulation you’ve influenced the share price! All this for one goal: to get your legs and lungs as robust as possible. Nothing now stands in your way to go off and conquer that big cycle route you’ve always wanted to. But what route have you planned? Here are my top 5 cycling routes in the UK, from shortest to longest.

1) Box Hill Olympic Circuit

Distance: 12 miles
Time to ride: 1 hour

This is a fun little ride to get your heart racing and will almost always result in some sort of mad dash up the famous Box Hill as you try to catch the rider ahead of you (we all do it!). At an hour long, you can even do it twice while taking in the scenery of Surrey and feeling what it may have been like to be an Olympian back in 2012. Although, to feel like a true Olympian, you’d need to do it nine times and then cycle back to London.

2) Coast to Coast

Distance: 140 miles
Time to ride: 1-3 days

There is something quite heroic about cycling across an entire country. And what better way to do it than to follow the historic route along Hadrian’s Wall. It starts on the edge of the Lake District before crossing over the Pennines and then into the Yorkshire Dales. Sample some of Britain most spectacular landscape and you’re never too far away from a ye olde local pub.

The best cycle routes in the UK

3) Brian Chapman Memorial

Distance: 385 miles
Time to ride: 3-6 days

Wales has to be one of the best places to cycle and what better route than to cycle from the bottom to the top - Chepstow to Bangor. Enjoy famous Welsh hospitality while giving your legs a good run for their money as it is hilly - very hilly. Then, once you get to the Bangor, you turn back around and head back to Chepstow thus completing the ride. For those of you wishing to do it ‘properly’, there is a 40-hour time limit. Good luck!

4) North Coast 500

Distance: 500 miles
Time to ride: 5-8 days

I can think of no better way to spend a week. The NC500 starts and ends in Inverness and takes in the best of the coast of Scotland. Explore hidden crystal blue coves, breath-taking switchbacks and, because it’s Scotland, you can camp anywhere (which I highly recommend). You’ll also get to tackle the UK’s highest single climb (by elevation) and trust me, the downhill on the other side is well worth it.

5) Land's End to John O'Groats - West Coast route

Distance: 2000 miles
Time to ride: 4-6 weeks

LEJOG is a pretty popular cycle route. Thousands of people have cycled it and rightly so. It’s a wonderful adventure and makes you appreciate just how amazing this island called Great Britain really is. If you have a lot more time, then I highly recommend doing a west coastal route. I did it back in 2016 and even popped over to a few Scottish Islands. I can assure you reaching that signpost at John O’Groats after tackling the coast will be something you never forget.

The benefits of cycling

So, which route will you be tackling first? Be sure to tag us in your adventures over on Instagram. If you're after more cycling tips and adventurer tales, then Sean's Instagram is the place to go! You can also find out more about the benefits of cycling here.