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Blog: Gearing up for Tour de Devon

Thinking of taking on our Tour de Devon cycle challenge this September and not sure which routes to tackle? Worry not - here, our very own events fundraiser and keen cyclist, Martin, shares some of his top routes.

Planning your route – eight of the best!

For Tour de Devon, 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 we’re so lucky in Devon when it comes to beautiful and dramatic cycle routes and if you’re at a loss or need inspiration, here eight of my personal favourite routes…

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).

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.

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.

Kennford: Haldon Forest Park  

Haldon Forest Park offers a fantastic opportunity for off-road cycling, with multiple trails of various lengths for cyclists of all abilities. Situated a 15 minute drive – or a lovely 6 mile cycle –  from Exeter, the trails have beautiful views back across the city and the surrounding countryside.

Dartmoor: Haytor Hill Climb

Possibly the most famous of Devon’s hill climbs thanks to its inclusion as a summit finish in the 2016 Tour of Britain, the Haytor Hill Climb follows Haytor Vale from Bovey Tracey to the famous rocks of Haytor. The steepest gradient on the 3-mile ascent is 14%… But just imagine the joy of the ride back down!

Moretonhampstead: Wray Valley Trail  

This 11km, mainly traffic free route links Moretonhampstead and Bovey Tracey, following an old railway line that closed to passengers in the 1950s. The best place to start the trail is from Court Street Car Park in Moretonhampstead – the first short section is on the road, with the off-raod section starting off Pound Lane. The route will take you through glorious countryside, via Lustleigh village and the National Trust’s Parke estate.

Exmouth to Exeter: Exe Estuary Trail

On this popular route you’ll travel 10 miles from the mouth of the Exe, along the river to the quays of Devon’s cathedral city,  via some of Devon’s most handsome waterside villages, including Topsham, Exton and Lympstone, It’s rider’s choice at Topsham whether to continue along the north bank of the river Exe or to hop on the Topsham foot ferry to continue the last stretch via the Doublelocks pub and Riverside Valley Park. Happy days!

Other tips for Tour de Devon…

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 but you can use any bike for this challenge – including static bikes and electric 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.

Strava An easy way to track your miles, either via the app or on the internet. We’ve set up our own Hospiscare group so, as well as tracking your miles, you can see how your fellow challengers are doing.

Safety  is always our top priority. Here are 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 other road and trail users
  • When route-planning, please do choose a cycle route that is a safe and sensible distance for you. 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 be sure to plan a route that’s open to the public, easily accessible and well-lit.

And finally, your Tour de Devon checklist!

  1. Sign up for Tour de Devon here
  2. Once signed up, join our Strava Club
  3. Setup your JustGiving page to fundraise online (click here to start)
  4. Plan your miles and route
  5. 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 and their families
  6. Check over your bike and ensure it is suitable for the challenge.
  7. Check you have all the safety kit you need, e.g. helmet, water, mobile phone
  8. 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 for supporting patients and families across the heart of Devon!

> Click here to sign up or to find out more about Tour de Devon