Cycling in Scotland – Top 10 Tips
Scotland’s incredible natural resources and right to roam principles make it a great place for cycling. There is so much to see and appreciate in the northernmost portion of Great Britain that you could spend the better part of your life on a cycling adventure and still not experience it all. Sounds like a challenge, right? You might accept it as one if you are an avid cyclist.
Experienced riders know that, as with any other recreational activity, there are certain tips and tricks one can employ to make the cycling experience as enjoyable and safe as possible. The more you know about cycling, the better your experiences will be. We want to get you pointed in the right direction with the following 10 tips for cycling in Scotland:
10. Know Your Skill Level
Virtually anyone who can stay upright on a bicycle can ride around on less trafficked city streets and surfaced roads. However, getting away from these areas into high-traffic city locales or off-road environments requires a certain skill set. It is important you know and understand your skill level before planning any cycling trip.
For example, a challenging mountain bike trail is probably not a wise idea if you have never ridden off-road before. Stick with less challenging trips until you have had time to properly develop your mountain biking skills. This principle leads right into our next tip.
9. Work to Improve Your Skills
The more skilled you are on a bicycle, the more options you will have to enjoy the great outdoors. Maximising your options is a matter of constantly working to improve your skills. To illustrate this principle, let us talk about mountain biking once again. Mountain biking is one of the most challenging ways to enjoy riding.
There is a list of core techniques that every mountain biker should master for safe riding. These include the position you take on the bike, how to execute a berm, and how to lift the front or rear wheel. All of the techniques make for a safer and more enjoyable experience on a mountain trail.
8. Ride in Groups
One of the best things you can do for safety purposes is to ride in a group. This is something motorcyclists have been doing for decades. Riding in a group makes you more visible in traffic along country roads or in urban environments. The more visible you are, the less likely you are to be involved in an accident with a car or lorry.
7. Make Your Plans Known
It’s important that you and your group let others know your cycling plans in advance. If you should have a need to ride alone, making others aware is even more important. When others know your plans, they also know when to be concerned and when not to be. Making others aware of your plans could mean the difference between life and death if you find yourself in a dangerous situation.
6. Plan Your Trip in Advance
Some cyclists prefer to head off on a trip and go wherever the wind may take them. This may be okay for short trips around town or the neighbouring countryside, but it’s not a wise idea if you plan to be on the bike for more than five or six hours. Longer trips are made safer when you plan them out well in advance. Planning your trips lets you plan for rest breaks, meals, and potential emergencies.
5. Take Advantage of Technology
Technology is a beautiful thing – especially in some of the more remote areas of Scotland. Take advantage of it. One piece of technology every cyclist should have with him/her is a GPS tracker. A GPS tracker not only helps him/her know where he/she is, it helps others know where he/she is as well. Also, take a mobile phone with you. Although coverage may be spotty in places, it is always good to have a mobile phone where you do have reception. Most areas of Scotland enjoy decent coverage.
4. Know the Right to Roam Rules
Scotland has one of the most liberal right to roam policies in all of Europe. What is the right to roam? It is your right, as a Scottish resident, to walk across most public and private lands for the purposes of recreation. One exception to this right is accessing farmlands on which crops have been planted and are actively being cultivated. The right to roam lets you go virtually anywhere and, if you are so inclined, camp on most public lands in Scotland. Knowing the right to roam rules makes it possible to cover most parts of the country without the need for any hotels or other accommodations.
3. Be Prepared for the Weather
Summer is the best time for long bike trips in Scotland because of the warm temperatures and daylight that can last as late as 11pm. However, be warned that the weather can turn sour in a matter of minutes. You need to be prepared for warm sun, wind, and heavy precipitation whenever you venture out. The later in the year you go, the worse the weather can turn on you.
2. Prepared for Insects
Along with the potential for nasty weather, Scotland also has some interesting insects to worry about. Just one example is the Highland midge. This insect is the smallest of the fly species known to bite humans. Their bites can be quite annoying to say the least. Other insects to watch out for include mosquitoes, black flies, and clegs. Insect repellent does an adequate job most of the time.
1. Enjoy Yourself!
The first and most important rule for cycling in Scotland is to enjoy yourself. There is no point in putting yourself through the potential discomfort of cycling if it is not something you thoroughly enjoy. With that said, do not push yourself just for the sake of doing so. Cycle wherever you find it pleasurable and to whatever extent you find it comfortable. The more you enjoy cycling, the more you will want to do it.
Our boat trips take you to some of the most wonderful scenery in the world, perfect for cycling trips and holidays. Check out our Scottish boat trips and cruises for more information.