Hello! First stage, and one that can last as long as you like, is getting a route and an idea of the ride together.
We live in an amazing age where almost everything needed to plan an enjoyable and memorable ride is here at our fingertips!
Ask! Elders, Fellow riders, at a local bike/outdoor shop, at a visitor centre or reaching out to likeminded folk via social media is a great way to find the hidden gems and gain top tips!
MetOffice – First stop… the weather! Met Office gives you all you need on this, check out the charts and try to learn to read whats happening.
The wind has a massive effect on riding and route choice, no-one wants to ride into a headwind all day!
Never forget the forecast is a very well educated guess.. it can be wrong! Pack for change, trust your instinct and if it does turn, go with what feels best.
Sustrans – Our national cycle network is a great way of getting between points of interest or getting in and out of the wilderness.
Often traffic free and always better than the road, the network is great (brown signs mean less tarmac and sometimes steep) often following old train and canal routes with a little history on the way.
Ordnance Survey Maps – The definitive map.
Nothing beats opening out the map of the chosen area and chasing lines and contours over a Coffee or something a little more lively!
But now the online mapping (desktop and mobile) only has a small fee and gives you all types of maps for the whole of Britain but also gives route planning and offline use to plan and follow while out and about. The safety implications of being able to give a grid ref are invaluable. As Mountain Bikers we are looking for bridleways and permissible paths to help with our grand ideas, remember to respect walkers and close gates behind you!
Suncalc – Not sure how many people know or use this.. but for me a good sunset/sunrise really does it. This incredible website shows you the direction of the sun at any given time on any given day, anywhere in the world! great for planning those dawn Coffees or sunset summits!
Strava – Not for chasing your local bike track sprint, or showing off your KOM’s but to actually make your route. The desktop version of Strava lets you build a route, change by popularity and elevation and then follow on your phone when out an about.
I used this to roadbike-pack across Italy completely blind and it was spot on.
One of the best features is the elevation profile for the planned route.
See what you are in for, how long and how steep the hills will be. Use them to plan your stops… is the route better in reverse?
Make a little crib sheet with directions/path names/distances to keep you on track.
Now go make it your own! What do you want to do? Mountain ridgeriding to a sunset on the beach? Epic wilderness trails to a night in a bothy? Riding out and back to the trail centre? You have the tools and imagination! Make a route where the elevation suits your legs, the terrain suits your bike and the weather suits your clothes. Plan time for lots of breaks to keep the legs fresh and just go for it!