Get on your bike for National Tea Day

Stopping for tea and cake is almost as important as the ride itself
Tea, cake and cycling – what could make for a better day? Cycling UK's digital officer, Rebecca Armstrong, has all the advice you need to plan a ride for National Tea Day

It’s fair to say that we love a nice cup of tea in the UK, and what goes together better than a bike ride followed by a slice of cake and a cuppa? Today is National Tea Day, making for the perfect excuse to get out on your bike and support your local cycle-friendly cafe.

Tea is easily the most popular hot beverage in Britain, with Brits consuming around 100 million cups daily, which is almost 36 billion per year, according to the UK Tea & Infusions Association. Coffee trails behind, on 70 million cups per day.

In celebration of all things tea, National Tea Day was launched back in 2016. The date was chosen as 21 April to coincide with Cycling UK's patron, Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday. This year, National Tea Day marks its seventh anniversary as well as the queen’s 70 years as monarch.

Anyone who’s ever planned a bike ride – whether that’s solo or for a club or group – knows just how important it is to include a stop at a cycling-friendly café. Tea and cake provide essential fuel for your ride and the break gives you the opportunity to have a chat.

Even the gold-medal-winning Team GB cycling team understand the importance of café stops, as one unsuspecting cycling fan found out in 2016. Tim Bishop was at Morris’s of Usk garden centre when he saw Sir Bradley Wiggins, Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Owain Doull and Mark Cavendish enjoying tea and cake at the garden centre’s café during a training ride ahead of Rio 2016. The table they sat at has since been painted gold to mark the team’s success at the games.

Route planner

So it would seem that today is the ideal time to plan a bike ride which takes in a local tea shop – or two! If you happen to live in or near the village of Llanbadoc, Monmouthshire, you could even arrange a ride to Morris’s to check out that iconic gold table.

You might already have the ideal route in mind, but if not, Cycling UK has got all the tools you need to get started. First off, decide who will be taking part in the ride. Is it just you, a select group of friends or your local cycling club? This will help you plan where to go, how far and how fast, as you can tailor your ride to the needs of the participants.

Now you can plan your route. If you’re not sure where to go, Cycling UK has more than 200 rides, complete with an interactive map and downloadable GPX file, across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – there’s even one on Jersey – so you’re sure to find one near you.

The rides go from just a few miles in distance to hundreds of miles. They’re rated as Beginner, Regular and Expert and by type of bike, making it easy to find the right one for your needs.

This eight-mile circular route around Cambridge by Vanessa Kelly, cycling projects officer for Cambridgeshire County Council, for example, goes via the Round Church, close to Crêpeaffaire. This café serves a stunning variety of sweet and savoury pancakes along with a range of loose-leaf teas.

Another way of choosing a route is to find a cycling-friendly café nearby and head to that. Using a route planner such as cyclists’ favourite Komoot will help here. We’ve already identified a long list of venues that welcome cyclists, so that’s a good place to start.

Or you could try Café Network, which aims to list all the cycling-friendly cafés in the UK and Ireland. As of 2018, it had almost 4,000 places on an interactive Google map, along with location and contact details. It lists cafés everywhere from the Isles of Scilly to Shetland and everywhere in between.

If you do happen to be up in Shetland, you might want to plan a ride taking in the famous Cake Fridge – an honesty bakery fridge which is restocked daily with cakes and bakes. It even featured in the ITV TV show Shetland. Tea isn’t provided, though, so remember to take a flask!

Both these services rely on user-generated content, so if you know of any cafés that deserve a mention, or have additional information on any of those listed, please do get in touch.

Group riding

If you’re still not sure where to start, you don’t have to plan your own route. Cycling UK’s member groups offer thousands of rides across the country, all of which are open to all members. Many also welcome non-members, so if you’ve been thinking of joining an organised ride now could be the perfect time.

Alternatively, you can always get touch with your local group to find out if they’ve got anything planned that they haven’t publicised yet.

Your National Tea Day ride doesn’t have to be about going to a tearoom. You can always get together with a few friends and organise a post-ride afternoon tea, with everyone contributing something tasty to eat. We’ve even got some great recipe ideas to help you get baking.

The weather forecast as I write this is looking good, so if you’ve got access to a garden you can make the most of the sun. You could even indulge in a refreshing post-ride G&T – so long as you’re not driving of course!

You now have all the tools you need to plan your ride, and we’d love to hear all about your National Tea Day adventures. If you go out on a ride, whether it’s an epic journey or just down the road to a local tearoom, please do share a photo on social media and don’t forget to use the hashtag #wearecyclinguk so that we see it.