Whether you ride to commute or for leisure, a new route can be a great way to liven up your routine and make you fall in love with your bike again.
It can be tempting to stick to the same roads and paths, especially when planning a new route to take can seem like hard work, but with there are plenty of resources to help you out.
Here’s a look at some of the best websites and guides that can help you plan your rides:
Urban Limits Guides
Before you go anywhere else, take a look at the route planners and maps we’ve got available here. We’ve brought together route maps for Braknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Wokingham to help you find your way around by bike.
These route maps are all designed specifically for cyclists and show safe routes where there are designated cycle paths.
Town maps, like this one that shows routes in Reading Town Centre are there to help you navigate busy roads, to show you where there are paths that take you off the road, and where there are cycle lanes.
If you’re looking to ride for leisure, we’ve also got maps of trails in beautiful and popular cycling areas, such as Swinley Forest. These leisure orientated maps show routes that most cyclists will be comfortable with, as well as marking out routes for more experienced bike handlers in search of challenge.
If you know a route we’ve not covered, why not let us know on Facebook – we always like to hear where you’re riding.
Map My Ride
If you’re going somewhere we haven’t covered, MapMyRide could be the place for you to plan your route, or to borrow one from someone else who has already ridden it.
This website can be used to plan your own routes, simply by clicking and gradually adding the miles to your route until you’ve accumulated the miles you wanted, or tracked yourself to your destination. You can undo a section if you find you’ve gone too far, and if you’re looking to go ‘out and back’, MapMyRide will reverse it for you.
The tool will also show you the elevation of your ride, so you’ll know if you’ve included some hills – if that wasn’t what you wanted, you can go back a few steps and try a different road to get to your destination.
This is only the beginning of the beauty of MapMyRide, however – doing this still relies on you to do the planning. The ‘Discover’ tab is what you want if you’re looking to gain some inspiration.
Here you can see cyclepaths, and routes planned by others members – each with a brief description, and information on the length and elevation of the ride. You can print the route out, or send it to your phone so you can track your progress as you ride.
MapMyRide have also created a ‘Groups’ section under the discover tab, where members of local clubs can share and discuss routes – so if that’s you, it’s a good place to congregate online, and if you’re interested in joining a club, MapMyRide could be a good way of finding out what sort of rides they do.
Strava is the competitive sensation that has been taking over the mentality of most local club rides over last year or so. However, used sensibly – Strava can be a helpful tool, and though it has competitive elements, you can dodge them if that isn’t for you, and use them well if you thrive on a bit of head-to-head rivalry.
The most social media savvy of our 3 route planning options, Strava allows you to share rides on other platforms (such as Facebook and Twitter),browse a dashboard of rides completed by people you “follow”, comment on rides, “give kudos” (the equivalent to a Facebook Like) and even share pictures from your excursions.
The basis of Strava is very simple: users create segments, and then Strava sets up a leaderboard for that segment, so that everybody that rides over it and uploads the ride to Strava is ranked in order of speed. If you have some local cycling friends this is good fun, provided you don’t take it too seriously.
If you’re not into competition with others, Strava also logs your own times over each segment, meaning you can set all rides to ‘Private’ and monitor your own PBs only and aim to get faster over time.
As well as competing on leaderboards, you’ll also have your miles calculated – so you can aim to increase your mileage if that’s your goal. The miles you’ve ridden are shown on a helpful bar graph, so you get a visual representation of you you’re doing.
For route sharing, Strava is incredibly useful because you can explore and search for local riders, and the site allows you to click on a users profile and see their entire ride, provided they haven’t set their account to ‘Private’. This means you can learn routes used by other local cyclists.
One rule of Strava use is that when setting up your account you set your home location by going to “settings” and “privacy”. Once you’ve entered your postcode, Strava software will blank out this part of your ride, so that you don’t lead thieves to your door.
If you’ve got some great routes, we’d love to hear from you on Facebook, or tweet us @Urban_Limits.