Cycling in Lincolnshire
Cycling in Lincolnshire
Anyone who thinks Lincolnshire is flat clearly hasn’t tried cycling across the Wolds. It may not be a mountain biking haven, and down Spalding way it’s all ironing-board farmland, big skies and straight lanes heading off to the horizon. But north-east of Lincoln it’s pretty hilly. It’s a large, mainly rural county, stretching from the Humber down to Cambridgeshire, with lots of quiet lanes and small villages.
NCN1 winds its way down the county, and includes the fabulous (and family-friendly) Water Rail Way, a car-free waterside path that leads to the little-known gem of Woodhall Spa and ultimately gets you (on more pleasant cycle-only paths) to characterful Boston, 33 miles away. (As it happens, the village of New York is not far away.) Out west from Lincoln, NCN647 leads to Tuxford 15 miles away, most of it on a railtrail. There’s some other nice stretches of railtrail south of Newark (NCN64),
Much of the county lacks National Cycle Routes, but with such quiet roads it’s easy to follow a map, or your nose – many cycle tourists have been pleasantly surprised by how rewarding this gentle countryside is. On the bracing coast, Cleethorpes has a promenade, a Greenwich-rivalling Meridian marker, and Britain’s smallest pub (the Signal Box); Mablethorpe and Skegness are traditional bucket-and-spade beach resorts.
Lincoln – so easily accessible by bike or train – is the main draw, with its magnificent cathedral, quaint old town, cobbled streets, and Roman gate you can cycle under. From it, Britain’s longest straight road (mostly the A15, with one short detour) heads up to the Humber Bridge. A short side-trip near it to Horkstow reveals a hidden gem only cyclists ever see: a miniature 19th-century suspension bridge mimicking its larger neighbour.
Cycling groups and clubs in Lincolnshire
Cycling UK Lincolnshire (Lincolnshire)
Offers leisure rides and activities centred in Gainsborough, Lincoln and Louth
Cycling UK Louth (Louth)
Weekly rides plus occasional weekends away
Campaigns and offers bike rides
Cycling UK Lincoln Women's Group (Lincoln)
Barton Wheelers (Barton-on-Humber)
Caters for most racing disciplines, including time trials and veterans road races
Hzpc Riders (North Lincolnshire)
Lindsey Roads CC (North Lincolnshire)
Promotes cycling, both social and competitive locally
Brigg & District Cycling Club (Brigg)
Try the sport in all its forms, have a grin and encourage others along the way
Kirton Lindsey Cycling Club (Kirton-in-Lindsey)
Amateur sports team
Gainsborough Aegir Cycling Club (Gainsborough)
Leisure, mountain bike and family rides and has an active racing section
Skegness Bike Ride (Skegness)
Witham Wheelers (Grantham)
Promotes cycling in all its formats
Sleaford Wheelers (Sleaford)
Road club offering rides including for novices and time trial events
Pedals Cycle Action Group (Spalding)
The Wheelers of Hope (Caistor)
Alford Wheelers Cycling Club (Alford)
South Carlton and District Pedallers (South Carlton)
Lincoln Wheelers (Lincoln)
Inspire Plus (Grantham)
Tri3 Sleaford (Sleaford)
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, 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 ‘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 Lincolnshire
Getting around Lincoln, the Water Rail Way, lots of rural routes