Lockdown has meant that most of us aren’t riding our usual trails. There are some lucky folk who live near trails which are still open but most of us simply don’t have them. Does that mean we’ve got to stop riding our bikes? I don’t think so.
Scotland has the advantage here with their right to roam. Within reason, just about anything that looks good could be a trail. I don’t live in Scotland. Drat. For the rest of us, we’ve got to do a little research to get our bike fix… unless, of course, you’re just hopping on the road bike or rolling on the turbo (which there’s nothing wrong with).
I love OS maps. And I don’t even mean the paper copies, unless you’ve already got them. The Ordnance Survey app gives you full online access to all regions for just less than £25 a year. I think it’s well worth the money, especially in the normal scenario where you can travel and still use it (although I suppose we’re ok for that now in England too!). I’ve had the app open on countless trips and days out now and, even at a charity shop bargain price of £2 a map, I reckon I’ve got use out of the subscription enough that I’ve saved money. Obviously, having a bit of a gander on a map can show you some bridleways or green lanes which are totally fair game for bikes. Avoid footpaths – there’s already plenty enough of a divide between bikers and walkers in most areas.
Strava is worth a look too, especially if you know of a few local folk who are already getting out on rides. It’s totally free so even if it ends up showing you nothing new then there’s nothing lost. If you do happen upon some local riders, you can follow their routes to show you something new. Alternatively, Strava has an interesting feature called ‘Heatmaps’ which show the most popular routes. It’s worth mentioning here that the most popular might not be a sensible idea to ride at the moment – y’know being that you’re supposed to be avoiding contact with people. Even so, it’s worth a look; if nothing else it might show you a few options to join together routes.
Komoot is another good app which helps you find new options for riding. It’s as simple as loading in your chosen destination, your current location and some options about how you want to get there – whether you’re up for roads, bridleways or footpaths. It will then work out a route for you to follow. Clever, eh? If you’re looking for a bit of a better look at it, Tim (who is coincidentally also from Wales – who would’ve guessed) has a short video showing you a brief overview.
With all of these high-tech app options it seems getting out on the bike at the moment requires some downloading before hand, right? Nope. I reckon the best way of finding new trails is actually to just go out. Whether that’s walking or riding, get out the house and go and explore. Get safely lost (where you can get back easily but you’re in an unfamiliar place) and find the trails yourself. Honestly, I think the reward for this is far greater and there’s always more options out there than you might first think.