Sunday, September 23, 2018

Long bike rides on local lanes are often the best way to spend your weekend, but sometimes familiarity can lend itself to boredom. Getting out and exploring somewhere new can be a surefire way to reinvigorate your love of two wheels, but finding the best places to cycle might require getting there on four.

We’ve pulled together some of the best places to ride in the UK – and a couple of locations a bit further afield – so all you have to do is pack up your SEAT Arona and start exploring.

1. Isle of Wight

A short hop across the Solent from the south of England, the Isle of Wight was rightly named the best place in the world to cycle by The Lonely Planet travel guides.

Rich with an abundance of road and gravel riding, a mixed-terrain route is the best way to see this fantastic part of the world but road only routes through the lanes and up testing climbs are in plentiful supply.

Relentlessly rolling, the roads will sap the legs but the views make it all worthwhile and the memories will live on long after your legs have recovered.

Consider tying in a lunch stop at one of the fantastic pubs or cafés to make a day of it, and an overnight stay allows for back-to-back days in the saddle.

2. Black Mountains, Wales

Deep in the Brecon Beacons National Park of southern Wales, the Black Mountains await any cyclist looking for a tough couple of days on the bike.

Within easy access of the Midlands, the South West and London, a short drive in the Arona will deliver you to the heart of this cycling playground.

Pack kit and clothing for all four seasons in one ride, and take home memories that will last long after you’ve got back to work.

3. The Somerset Levels

Windswept and prone to flooding, riding through the Somerset Levels in the winter and early spring gives a real sense of being on a Belgian Classics weekend without leaving the UK.

Loop in an ascent of the nearby Cheddar Gorge for a fantastic weekend’s riding.

Just brace yourself for that headwind.

4. Ullapool, West coast of Scotland

Traffic-free roads and stunning views await anyone who ventures to the far-west of the Scottish Highlands for a ride on the roads north of Ullapool.

Singletrack lanes will be (almost) entirely yours for a weekend of cycling in this remotely beautiful part of Scotland.

5. Two countries ride

Basing your weekend out of Chester, a loop across the nearby border will take you into picturesque North Wales. With lanes in all directions a longer ride could get you to the north coast or further into the interior.

Cross the border back at a point further south to cover some miles in England too before reaching your Arona where you left it in historic Chester.

6. Lake District

Best known among cyclists as the location of the Fred Whitton Challenge sportive, this is seen by many as the hardest event of its kind on British shores.

A trip up from elsewhere in England or down from Scotland should be on every cyclist’s to do list. But it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Brace yourself for some of the hardest climbs around, and aim to visit in the warmer months as roads such as the Honister and Hardknott Passes are often impassable in the winter.

7. The Chilterns and the Cotswolds

Separated by Oxford, these areas of green rolling hills are just a short drive out of London or over from South Wales, and within easy reach of the Midlands.

Ideal for a weekend away with a riding companion or two, some hard days’ riding here could be just the springboard you need to launch the rest of your cycling year.

8. Bealach na Bà, Scotland

Bealach na Bà – Pass of the Cattle – in the Scottish Highlands rises from sea level to over 600 metres up an Alpine-inspired road of hairpins and counts gradients in excess of 20% – this is the steepest ascent anywhere in the UK as it rises from sea level to over 600 metres.

This really is a location for riding somewhere new and doing your own thing. Leg-sapping and tough, it’ll be worth it for the achievement of reaching the summit.

9. Roubaix and Flanders cobbles

Alpine ascents are all well and good, but any true cycling fan should be heading for the cobbled roads of Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders first.

This area of greater-Flanders is near enough to drive over for the weekend, and the Roubaix velodrome is under an hour’s drive from the Tour of Flanders finish town Oudenaarde.

The proximity means you can take in all the famous secteurs of both races in the same weekend trip, and still be get back in time for the Sunday evening cross-Channel ferry.

These secteurs will test even the best bike handler and have you earning each and every café stop.

10. Girona

In the heart of Catalonia, this city has become a hugely popular home for professional cyclists from around the world. Take their lead and head down for the weekend, either driving your SEAT Arona across France or taking it on the ferry to Bilbao.

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