Cycling in Buckinghamshire
Cycling in Buckinghamshire
One of the classic Home Counties, Buckinghamshire’s status as the picture-perfect rural haven for London commuters – in affluent towns such as Amersham, Chesham and the Chalfonts – makes it a charming place to cycle round.
Trim villages in beautiful countryside abound, some of the best-known being Bledlow, Great Missenden, Hambleden and Turville, and you’re never far from a well-manicured pubs or cafes. It’s the home of Bletchley Park and Chequers, the country house of the Prime Minister, and stretches from historic Marlow down on the Thames up to the 21st Century town of Milton Keynes.
It’s a county of two halves: in the south are the hilly but gorgeous Chiltern Hills – a magnet for many a day-cyclist coming up from the capital – and in the north the flat Vale of Aylesbury.
There are many beautiful day rides. Wendover Woods, in the heart of the Chilterns, has several short family rides. The Phoenix Trail, a pleasant old rail path running five miles from Princes Risborough to Thame, is also perfect for families: here you can spot red kites and admire the artworks en route. For the more ambitious, the Chiltern Cycleway runs 170 circular (and rolling) miles through the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Milton Keynes is an underrated cycling town, and there’s much more to see than concrete cows. As well as the ‘redways’ – the network of well-maintained utility routes in the modern centre – there are many miles of routes and trails in the surrounding countryside, with woodland, parks, lakes and rivers. There’s a lively cycling club scene, too.
Cycling groups and clubs in Buckinghamshire
Aylesbury CTC (Aylesbury)
Led leisure rides on Sundays and some evenings, plus cycling holidays and monthly socials
CTC South Bucks (Buckinghamshire)
Choice of led rides around the county at a variety of paces including a road club for faster riders
Chiltern Society (Buckinghamshire)
Holds led on and off-rides several times a week at a varying pace
South Bucks Midweek (Buckinghamshire)
Weekly rides including easy-paced, moderate, medium fast, and faster longer
Swan Wheelers (Buckinghamshire)
Resurrected in 2015; the club’s focus is road cycling, but it also runs regular off-road rides
Summit Mountain Bike Club (Chilterns)
Social and weekend MTB rides, coaching and racing for adults and children
Beaconsfield Cycling Club (Beaconsfield)
Road cycling club created for social rides up and down the Chilterns
Marlow Riders (Marlow)
Small-group cycling in Marlow and surrounding areas of South Bucks and Berkshire
South Bucks Chiltern Hills (Buckinghamshire)
High Wycombe Cycling Club (High Wycombe/Princes Risborough)
Road racing, time trialling, cyclocross, track cycling, MTB racing, social, touring, etc
Handcycling UK (Stoke Mandeville)
Promotes and facilitates handcycling as sport and recreation
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: in Britain 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 or rear rack and panniers 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 ‘Schraeder’ – 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.
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 Buckinghamshire
Local routes, towpaths, the Phoenix Trail, and the 170-mile Chilterns Cycleway
Cycle A-way’s list of routes and resources
The Grand Union Canal Map (NCN6)
The Phoenix Trail Cycle Map (NCN57)
Cycling events in Buckinghamshire
Check out our events calendar to find a ride that suits you
Make sure your bike is working
(from our partners, Halfords)
Creaking cranks, wobbly wheels or slipping saddles are the last thing you want, but Halfords' guide to basic bike maintenance will keep you rolling smoothly. Whether you’re a regular commuter, a leisurely weekend rider, or prefer to tear it up on a serious MTB trail, signs of wear and tear might keep you off the saddle from time to time. Whilst we can’t promise to banish those roadside mishaps, we can help keep your bike tip top with our top tips!
You’re heading out on your lovely bike, with a pannier packed with your essentials. A glorious route lies ahead, but then you run into a spot of bother! Most of the time there are handy hacks you can do to tide you over whilst out and about, and we’ve taken a look into the most common bike problems and solutions…
Clicking saddle? Check that the bolts connecting the saddle to the seat post are not loose. Tighten until the saddle is firmly secured using an allen key from your trusty toolbox!
Squealing brakes? This could be down to dirt or oil on the brake pads. Give it a quick wipe down, then when you get home take the brake pads off and readjust.
Squeaky derailleur? A little lube should help. Remove any excess.
Creaky pedals? Dry pedal bearings, loose crank arms or a worn bottom bracket could be the culprit. Once home, remove and lube the pedal bearings, tighten and lube the crank arms, or replace the bottom bracket if it’s still making a fuss.
Some of the problems you find with your bike might need a closer look, and here’s where we can help!
Wobbling disc rotors, spongy brakes and rattling bolts needn’t be as pesky as they sound for long enough to keep you off your bike! Call and see us with your two wheels at your local Halfords, or with any other bike bothers you might have.
From as little as £15 a year, Halfords will take the labour out of looking after your bike. Halfords offer a range of care packages, they provide free fitting on all parts and accessories bought from Halfords, and even include an annual service worth £50 as part of the plan!