How to safely cycle in the countryside
As we venture into Spring and the weather begins to improve, the sun starts to emerge, and the rain clouds roll away, it’s the perfect time of year for a cycle through the countryside. Whether you choose to cycle with the family or go solo, it’s an ideal, environmentally friendly way to get out, about, and explore the world around you.
Regardless of whether you’re an avid cyclist or new to biking, it’s important to be clued up on bike safety guidelines before heading out on the road. In our latest blog post, we cover the road safety rules for cyclists, and how you can safely cycle in the countryside.
Plan your trip
As with any outdoor activity, the key to success is all in the planning. If you’re planning a day of cycling in the countryside, it’s important to know where you’re going. Whilst there are plenty of GPS route planners and apps available that will keep you on the right path, not every countryside location will have a strong phone signal.
Although there are certainly worse places to be, no one wants to be lost in the countryside, aimlessly pedalling down winding roads and hitting dead ends! Before you set off, plan your route ahead of time. There are plenty of online resources and apps available, such as the National Cycle Network or Strava. Then, plot out your route on a physical map and bring this along with you, should you lose GPS connectivity during your journey.
Make sure your bike is roadworthy
You wouldn’t head off on a long car journey without checking your petrol, tyres, and oil – the same applies to your bike! One of the most important, and often neglected, factor of road safety for cyclists is checking if your bike is safe for use before starting your journey. This includes checking:
The wheels are fitted securely
All spokes are intact and none are damaged or missing
Tyres are free from punctures and do not need pumping up
The bike saddle is adjusted for your use and feels comfortable
The bike frame is not rusted, cracked, or otherwise damaged.
The brakes, gears, and pedals are all in good working order and function smoothly.
Of course, even the best-laid plans can run into bumps in the road (literally!) Exercising good bike safety isn’t just about how you behave on the roads, or how you prepare your bike for the journey, it’s also about what you bring in your backpack.
A travel puncture kit and a compact hand bike pump are two essentials for any cycling trip, especially when cycling in the countryside. Country roads can involve rougher terrain, including rougher pieces of gravel that can easily cause wear and tear to your tyres.
Although there’s nothing quite like a leisurely cycle, biking can be a strenuous activity, especially when combined with the inclines and uneven terrain that is common in the countryside. Don’t forget to fuel your body as you go, bring along a good lunch, plenty of water, and some high-protein snacks for the road.
Be mindful of traffic
If you’re used to cycling in a city centre, you will have to be extra wary of the decreased visibility that comes along with countryside cycling. Due to the winding roads and higher speed limits, motorists may not see you until they have fully turned the bend.
To stay out of harm’s way, stick to the side of the road and regularly check behind you. Even if your bike has mirrors installed, a regular, quick glance over your shoulder will ensure you stay alert and aware of any oncoming hazards.
The number one rule for all outdoor activities is to ‘leave as you find’. This includes parking up your bike, whether you’re stopping for a quick picnic or a night of wild camping. Never obstruct access to gateways, pathways, or roads.
Whilst it might be enticing to get closer to any livestock you encounter, remember that at the end of the day, your bicycle is a machine and is likely to startle them. Give horses, farm, and wild animals a wide berth, and move slowly and cautiously around them.
Our final thoughts on cycling in the countryside
Countryside cycling is the perfect pastime, especially as we move into spring. If you’re looking to explore the rural landscapes near you, but would like to cover off more ground than you would usually do with a walk or hike, then cycling is the solution for you.
We hope our guide to road safety for cyclists will help you to approach biking safely! For more of the latest outdoor tips, check out the UK Outdoors blog.