In British cycling, the Sunday ride really is an institution: Clubs meet outside coffee houses for an early start, weekend lycra lovers dust off their road bikes and families set out in mini bike trains.
Why Sunday? Well, for the cyclists who need to get the miles in, it’s often the day of choice.
Before 9 a.m. most town centres are empty. And other than the walk of shame’rs and road cleaners, you’ve pretty much got the streets to yourself.
British weather is ‘changeable’ but year round you get great cycling conditions. Spring and Autumn serve up crisp, clear mornings and even through winter there’s plenty of glorious days.
And with a decent alarm clock, a pile of cycling clothing at the foot of your bed and water bottles prepped the night before, you can get out, get on with it and get back before your partners even left slumber land!
If you’re buying a road bike, there’s a good chance you’ll keep it away from the potholes of commuting and save it for Sunday. Perhaps it’s this that makes the Sunday ride special?
Your hybrid’s done the hard work, taken the knocks and got you from A to B all week, and now it’s time to get on with your training. And getting your gear on and getting out there is its own ritual. Nothing better than being up before the rest of the world and getting those tyres rolling.
But for me it’s also about the moment. There’s no way I can get early miles in during the week. So to have the time to roll for a couple of hours is a luxury worth waiting all week for.
I’m currently training and have a Carrera Virago courtesy of Halfords. It’s the only full carbon bike around for under £1,000 and is giving me that step into road cycling.
Road bikes are so much more focused than hybrids. They tempt you to add miles and tease you to top speeds you should think twice about.
But this weekend the lycra bike was in for it’s free 6-week service, and I was back on the hybrid. So back off the pace for the morning, it was time for a break from the training and a ride out enjoying Spring cycling at it’s best.
Hybrids might feel heavy in comparison, but stick on slicker tyres and they are quick enough; low gears help the climbs and you can guarantee hours in the saddle.
I fitted a Brooks B-17 saddle two years ago, and despite initial reservations it’s now shaping up. And rather than stick on panniers, I opted for a Carradice saddlebag (pictured here with obligatory ‘cuppa’ and some classic carbohydrates).
British companies have a notable pedigree: Brands like Brooks and frame makers such as Roberts are world renowned for their quality – other names, such as Thorn (manufacturers of world tourers) and Brompton (folders) also have enviable reputations.
Yet it’s not all tweed and plus-fours – check out Charge for some great-looking cyclocross/road bikes and Enigma for ultratech bespoke titanium frames.
And there’s definitely a new-found respect and appreciation for the craft of bike making – as well as the hipster fashion for single speeders. A purist love of our rides. And it’s reflected in bike designs the world over.
The hybrid is a bike niche we all understand, and buying a hybrid is an excellent choice for an all-round-ride. But the hybridity we are seeing across styles is much more interesting (more on this sometime).
And as for routes, British cycling can serve up artery widening climbs as well as it can weekend wonders. Later this year, I’ll be looking at how to ride the London to Brighton and other classic Brit trips.
Mountain bike nutrition and road cycling nutrition offer pretty much the same advice; and neither say a good Brit brekky is the best source of energy!
But still, after a long cycle along the seafront – and a few Martin Parr moments in Worthing – it’s got to be done!
Keep up with The Evolving Cyclist Project by following @travelsportcopy and look out for the hashtag #evolvingcyclist
For more cycling blogs and guides, check out: Buying a road bike and living with it / Buying Bike Lights: Knog Blinder Reviewed / 5 cycle safety tips for commuters / Buying a Road Bike: Gears and losing your Megarange / Mountain Bike Nutrition: How to choose an energy bar
- Riding the London 2 Brighton Bike Ride: 5 Tips
- About The Evolving Cyclist Project
- The Evolving Cyclist Project
- Adventure Sports & Travel Thoughts
- New Adventure Travel Ideas
- Our Experts
- Top 10s
- Travel Gear
- Adventure Sports Insurance: What Does The EHIC Actually Cover?
- Kayaking Challenges: Paddling 1300km in handmade kayaks
- Child-Free Sports: Time to reclaim the wave?
- New Zealand: Spiritual Home of Adventure Sports
- 5 Things Cyclists Never Do
- Kevlar Swiss Socks that Rock!
- Adventure Race Events: Trying the Toughest Challenges on Earth