Cycling in Fife
Cycling in Fife
The gentle countryside, quiet lanes and characterful fishing villages of Fife – plus, of course, the university-and-golf town of St Andrews – make for delightful leisurely cycling.
Families might have to search a bit for child-friendly routes, but one excellent option is the recent 13-mile path around Loch Leven, centred on Kinross (which is on NCN1). Not completely flat, but you don’t need a mountain bike either. From Dunfermline – once the capital of Scotland, and having some fine historic buildings to see – a railpath suitable for any riders or bikes (NCN764) runs 14 miles to Clackmannan.
For tourers, that NCN1 route is part of the Coasts and Castles North route, 172 miles from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. It passes through St Andrews – a must-stay place, as interesting as Oxford or Cambridge but small enough to walk round. From there it winds round the coast with several car-free stretches (some through forest) to cross the Tay Bridge to Dundee. NCN777 meanwhile runs alongside the Tay itself. Another popular route follows part of Route 76 from Edinburgh to St Andrews, a challenging ride of roughly 57 miles. The annual June charity ride in aid of Lepra Health in Action uses this particular route.
Fife’s south coast is a good area to explore slowly by bike. Once over the Forth Bridge, a mix of quiet roads and car-free paths gives you views of Edinburgh and takes you alongside the water to Kirkcaldy (part of NCN76). From there, follow quiet roads and lanes all alongside or parallel to the coast, and visit lovely little fishing villages of the East Neuk such as Elie, Anstruther, St Monans, Crail (perhaps the prettiest) and others, each one-of-a-kind and all with atmospheric places to eat (sometimes with fish straight out the water) and drink.
Cycling groups and clubs in Fife
CTC Fife and Kinross
Taycoasters (North Fife Community Cycling)
CTC Tayside (Tayside)
Caters for members from a large area comprising Angus, Dundee and Perthshire
Coupar Angus Cycling Hub (Coupar)
Parent and Child Community Cycling Club (Fife)
Belles on Bikes Fife (Fife)
Promotes and encourages women's cycling for all ages and abilities
Belles on Bikes Tayside (Tayside)
A group for women in Tayside that welcomes all ages and abilities of cyclist
CLEAR Buckhaven (Buckhaven)
Mukyriderz Cycling Club (Glenrothes)
Charity rides, cyclocross, mtb racing, sportives and recreational riding
Filles a Velo (Burntisland, Fife)
Provides framework to support female cyclists from all disciplines in Scotland
The Vat Pack (Rosyth)
Cycling Dalgety Bay (Dalgety Bay)
Facebook page for cyclists in and around Dalgety Bay
Assisted Cycling Events (Dunfermline)
Promotes cycling for health and well-being and helps people have fun on bikes for free
Dunfermline CC (Dunfermline)
Road racing, time trails, cyclocross, mountain biking and recreational rides
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? Recommend your favourite routes using the comments box below.
Cycling routes in Fife
Coast path, mountain biking, and other local routes
Cycle A-way’s list of routes, maps and resources for Fife
West Fife Way, Clackmannanshire to Dunfermline
Cycling events in Fife
Weekend Cafe Cycle Rides (Newport on Tay) Suns 10am
Mixed on and off-road rides of 15 miles for beginners, families and leisurely riders
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!