Whether you are planning to take on a 100-mile adventure or just trying to get to work, knowing the best route to take can be a challenge.
Local knowledge is invaluable and asking around your local bike shops is a good place to start for that. We may also be able to help or at the very least put you in touch with someone who can. However, there are a number of online and offline tools at your disposal that can steer you in the right direction.
Ordinance Survey Maps
The trusty old OS map is a mine of information, particularly with regards to country lanes and B-roads. Country lanes can be an excellent alternative to the main highways, as they are usually quieter and may even cut through farm land or forestry.
However, some lanes have been adopted by motorists as rat-runs and can be a bit dicey in poor light, but this is where the local knowledge can help. That being said, you never know what routes you’ll find with a keen eye and an OS map spread across your table.
If you are looking for a way to spend a day out on the bike, a book full of routes may be a way to go. You may remember that we talked about Jack Thurston’s Lost Lanes Wales, which is full of routes that have been tested out by Jack himself.
There are no doubt other books around that serve the same purpose. If we find them, we’ll let you know!
The number of mapping options available online these days is mind-boggling. If you have a cycle computer that’ll let you follow GPX files, you could use Garmin Connect, Strava, RidewithGPS or any of the other mapping tools out there.
However, one we quite like at the moment is Cyclestreets, for which there is even a Cardiff homepage. You simply enter your start and end points and it’ll give you three options, including the quickest route, the quietest route or a compromise between the two. It’s entirely possible that all three routes will be the same, but then “spin it out an extra 20km and throw in some hills” isn’t an option on there…yet.
Where Cyclestreets excels is in the additional information it gives you for each route, including turn-by-turn directions; calories consumed; journey time and how much CO2 you’ll have saved by taking that journey by bike.
Why not give it a go by putting your usual commute into the planner and seeing what options it gives you? If you don’t currently cycle to work, maybe it’ll give you a route that you’d feel comfortable riding?
It uses the OpenStreetMap data, so it is worthwhile getting the hang of editing OSM, as we talked about before in our latest parking update.