Cycling in Jersey
Cycling in Jersey
As the most southernly part of the British Isles, Jersey boasts more hours of sunlight than anywhere else in Britain. More importantly for cyclists, the island also boasts 96 miles of signposted official cycle routes and 48 miles of ‘Green Lanes’, which are 15mph country roads where cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians have priority.
Despite the island’s maximum altitude of 450ft, Jersey isn’t short on hills. Attempt a ride that takes in the numerous bays of the north coast and you will soon be feeling the effects. Although the sea views are delightful and most of Jersey’s 10 official cycle routes do visit a beach at some point, steering clear of the coast tends to offer the most relaxed cycling experience.
In terms of dedicated cycling facilities, there are traffic-free cycle paths along St Aubin’s bay linking the west of the island with town in St Helier; a new off-road cycle path has been constructed north to south up lush St Peter’s Valley; and then there's the original ‘Railway Path’, which turned Jersey’s pre-war train track into a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists (and which even predates Sustrans’ famous Bristol to Bath route).
In fact, in many regards Jersey is a cycling paradise, where, with a bit of local knowledge and foresight you can significantly limit your interactions with motor vehicles. However, venture onto the main roads and you will find yourself mixing with some of the 120,000+ cars, vans, buses, etc, homed on this 9 mile x 5 mile island. This high dependency on petrol and diesel power might partly explain why the States of Jersey introduced an ill-thought out helmet law in 2014, making it compulsory for all children under 14 to wear suitable head protection while cycling.
What to take with you on your ride
The only thing you really need for cycling is a bike. And maybe a phone, and credit card: even in Jersey you’re only a call away from any service you might need.
But unless money is no object, it’s wise to take a few things with you on a day ride. A saddlebag, panniers or bikepacking bags are best for carrying stuff. A front basket is second best. A rucksack is third best. Your sweaty back will soon tell you why.
Cycling short distances in jeans and t-shirt is fine, but on a long or strenuous ride – over ten miles say, or in hills – those jeans will rub and the t-shirt will get damp and clingy. Shorts or, yes, lycra leggings and padded shorts will be much comfier, and merino or polyester cycling tops wick away the sweat, keeping you dry and comfy. (They don’t have to be lurid colours.)
If rain’s in the air, pack a rainproof top. If it might turn chilly, take a fleece or warm top. But the thing you’re most likely to forget is the sunblock.
It’s remarkable how often you enjoy being out on the bike so much that you suddenly realise it’s getting dark. So take lights (which are legally required at night). They’re price of a sandwich, take no space, are easy to put on thanks to tool-free plastic clips, and the batteries last for ever.
Take a puncture repair kit (with tyre levers) and pump. Make sure it fits your valves, which will be either ‘Presta’ or ‘Schrader’ – realising they don’t match is a very common roadside discovery! Carrying a spare inner tube (make sure it matches your tyre size) makes puncture repair much easier: mend the old one back at home. If you do get in trouble, some kindly passing cyclist will probably stop to help.
Using a helmet is a personal choice – they’re not legally required (with the exception of riders aged under-14 in Jersey!)
Cycling makes you thirsty, so take lots of water. Long-distance riders talk about ‘the bonk’ – a sudden loss of energy rendering you almost stationary. It’s miraculously and instantly cured by eating something sweet. On short rides you’re unlikely to run out of energy, but just in case, take a snack like flapjack, banana, chocolate or jelly babies.
Taking a packed lunch or picnic will save you money, though that hot drink and cake in a cosy cafe could yet prove very tempting!
Your phone GPS could be invaluable for showing where you are when lost; you can download free detailed UK maps and GPS software before your trip.
Paper maps are still useful, though, so take one: no power source or wifi signal required, and they’re great for suggesting possibilities or changes of plan.
What have we missed? Let us know your favourite routes by leaving a comment below.
Cycling routes in Jersey
Fantastic signposted cycle routes, including the impressive round-the-island Route 1