Make the most of summer on two wheels

Be prepared for whatever the weather on Yorkshire's roads.
Be prepared for whatever the weather on Yorkshire's roads.

With the sun shining down on Yorkshire (at least some of the time!), it’s a great opportunity to take to two wheels and venture out for a longer cycle ride and enjoy some of the region’s breath taking scenery. Tony Booth of All Terrain Cycles gives some advice to help you make the most of summer cycling.

Enjoy a day on your bike – but be prepared!

Fortunately, we’ve enjoyed relatively good weather so far and with months of summer still ahead, why not make the most of it and plan a day out on your bike? In Yorkshire, we’re lucky that for many of us, it’s easy to get into some beautiful countryside, even if you don’t reach the Dales, there are lots of rolling hills and pretty villages just a short ride away.

But a word of warning, planning is key to enjoying your rural adventure. The starting point, of course, is your trusty bike. No doubt, you regularly have it serviced professionally as well as keeping it clean and in good working order yourself, so it should be in tip top condition and ready to go – if not, get it checked out at a reputable bike shop.

If you really feel that your bicycle is past its best and actually you need to invest in a more up-to-date, efficient model, there are literally hundreds to choose from. Again, visit a decent bike store with plenty of choice and well-informed staff who can guide you – and ideally go to one which offers the option to go for a spin on your chosen bike before buying. Don’t forget that the Government’s Cycle to Work scheme is a great way of helping to offset the cost of buying a new bike with employees at many places of work able to benefit from tax exemptions on their purchase.

So, having checked your tyres and lubed your chain, you’re ready to set off, but what else should you have with you? While space on a bike is limited, a small under saddle kit bag will give you room to carry essentials such as a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a pump plus some basic tools. It’s well worth investing in a small CO2 inflator which makes the job of changing a tyre much quicker and easier.

In terms of what you need, as with any sport, having the right kit will really pay off. Good quality, padded cycling shorts are a must; and so is a high performance waterproof jacket which can easily be packed away – it doesn’t matter how sunny it is when you set off, always take a waterproof with you, we are in Yorkshire! Another good option for our changeable weather is to buy some ‘warms’, lightweight arm warmers which are perfect to slip on or off as needed. Cycling leg warmers are also really useful, particularly as they can be stuffed into a pocket.

Always put on plenty of sun cream before you set off, and ideally take a small tube with you. As you tend to be in pretty much the same position on a bike and have the breeze cooling you, it’s easy to get burnt. You could also wear a cap under your helmet to help keep the sun off your face and, of course, some good quality cycling sun glasses are essential.

Finally, don’t forget to refuel. Cycling uses up lots of energy and, like the guys on the Tour, you need to make sure that you drink and eat frequently – little and often is the key. Take two bottles of fluid with you, ideally one containing a specific energy drink for sports as these are specially designed to provide the sugars, carbohydrates and electrolytes you need. It’s also a good idea to take a couple of energy gels, these are basically a concentrated form of sugars which provide a quick energy hit in a very compact form. You can also take along energy chews to graze on while riding, or energy bars, these are cereal bars designed to be easily absorbed and digested. Another tip is to supplement these snacks by making sure that your ride takes in one of Yorkshire’s many tempting tearooms.

With a bit of planning, you can enjoy the wonders of cycling in God’s Own County.