What do you need to get into gear for the first ever Tour de Devon cycle challenge? Our very own events fundraiser and keen cyclist, Martin, shares some top tips.
Treads The age old debate of road bike vs mountain bike vs hybrid! It’s like the jam or cream debate for cyclists. Tour de Devon is envisioned as a road and cycle trail-based challenge, rather than off-road, but you can use any bike for this challenge – including static bikes and electric aided bikes!
Threads In terms of clothing, any clothing that is suitable for the type of exercise and the weather on the day is fine. If you have lyrca, great, if not, normal shorts and leggings work too. You may find gloves (and saddle padding!) a godsend and – of course – appropriate shoes and helmets are a must.
Planning your route
We’re so lucky in Devon and the South West when it comes to beautiful and dramatic cycle routes. For TdD, you don’t need to follow a set route or an established national cycle route, you’re totally free to plan the course that works for you. It could be an old favourite or even your commute! But if you’re at a loss or need inspiration it’s definitely worth checking out the National Cycle Network to see if anything takes your fancy – here are four of our favourites:
From Okehampton: The Tarka Trail, Granite Way and route 27: The traffic-free Tarka Trail runs for over 30-miles through landscapes little changed from those described in Williamson’s in classic novel Tarka The Otter. It starts at Okehampton and passes through beautiful coastal and inland towns and villages including Braunton, Barnstaple and Great Torrington. Or, travelling south from Okehampton you can join the Granite Way to Lydford (home of the famous gorge).
From Tiverton: The Grand Western Canal: An 11-mile, family-friendly route running alongside a tranquil section of the Grand Western Canal from Tiverton to Holcombe Rogus, with stunning views of the Blackdown Hills.
Dawlish Warren to Exeter: The Exe Estuary (route 2): This beautiful 12-mile ride along the Exe Estuary is relatively flat and offers stunning river views. You can also enjoy spotting wildlife as you cycle and there’s no better route in the country for bird-spotting.
From Sidmouth: East Devon AONB: A 27-mile, circular route starting and ending in Sidmouth via Branscombe, Salcombe Regis, Colyton, Southleigh and Sidbury. The East Devon AONB is a nature reserve known for its hilly (we repeat, hilly!) and wooded landscape and quiet roads.
When route-planning, please do choose a cycle route that is a safe and sensible distance for you – remember you can choose either 50, 100 or 250 mile options. If you’re a newbie cyclist, or coming back to cycling after many years off the saddle, please don’t be tempted to bite off more than you can chew! And do plan a route that’s open to the public, easily accessible and well-lit.
We recommend Strava as a user-friendly and easy way to track your miles, either via the app or on the internet. We’ve set up our very own Hospiscare so as well as tracking your miles you can also see how your fellow challengers are doing! Steps for joining our Strava club are in our participant information pack. But if you would rather track your miles another way, then simply send us proof of your miles; this could be a screenshot of your activity tracker or simply a written tracker.
The safety of our supporters and all road users is our first priority. We have a few pointers to help you prepare for your challenge and stay safe on the road.
- Wear something bright – it’s important to be seen, especially if you’re cycling on the road.
- Cycle in good light – and use bikes lights if there’s a chance the light levels will reduce while you’re out
- Carry a mobile phone in case of emergency
- Only cycle in appropriate weather (avoid rain and very hot weather) and appropriate clothing and footwear
- Avoid alcohol consumption
- Be respectful of social distancing at all times
And finally, your Tour de Devon checklist!
- Sign up for Tour de Devon here
- Once signed up, join our Strava Club
- Setup your JustGiving page to fundraise online (click here to start)
- Plan your miles and route
- Tell your friends and family that you’re taking part in Tour de Devon and encourage them to sign up as well. We need as many people as possible to take part so we can care for more patients across Exeter, Mid and East Devon.
- Check over your bike and ensure it is suitable for the challenge. Perhaps put it in for a service if you haven’t used it in a while? (If you sign up before 21st August, you could win a free service from Silk Cycles!)
- Check you have all the safety kit you need, e.g. helmet, water, mobile phone
- Remember to take photos when you are out on your challenge and share these on your social media platforms along with your fundraising page using #TourdeDevon
Enjoy the ride – and thank you!