Cycling in Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire has a range of cycle routes, from easy family railpaths to hilly road workouts. As you’d guess, there’s mountain biking in Sherwood Forest – Sherwood Pines, specifically – ranging from family trails to challenging singletrack.
Other child-friendly traffic-free trundling is at Bestwood Park, on the outskirts of Nottingham; Clumber Park up to the north; or Cotgrave’s towpath (on the Grantham canal) and park in the centre of the county. A smooth railtrail runs a few miles south from handsome Newark, with its castle and traditional market square, down to Cotham, again great for families.
Tourers might start their route planning with NCN6, which threads its way up through the county and includes a lot of traffic-free sections. On its way from Nottingham 40 miles north to Worksop, for instance, it passes through Mill Lakes Country Park and Sherwood Forest – past the famous Major Oak and those mythical Robin Hood haunts – finishing on one its the many car-free sections en route, the Chesterfield Canal into Worksop.
Free-ranging tourers can enjoy exploring quaint off-radar market towns (such as Tuxford) and villages (such as Gotham, which ultimately gave its name to Batman’s home town).
Nottingham itself has its share of unpleasantly hectic car-centric main roads – and the tram tracks can be a menace; ask Pedals, the local cycle campaign – but canals and riverside paths offer some peaceful and enjoyable ways to get round the centre. After a drink at the Olde Trip to Jerusalem, one of Britain’s oldest and quirkiest pubs, take the traffic-free ‘Big Track’ route through the centre. It links the station, the cricket and both football grounds, and takes you grandly alongside the Trent.
Cycling groups and clubs in Nottinghamshire
Notts CTC (Nottinghamshire)
Non-racing group that organises rides to suit most abilities
Non-racing branch of Notts CTC that organises rides to suit most ranges of cycling ability
Notts MTB Outlaws
C2C For Gareth Lewis and Kit Taylor (Hucknall)
Gillian Domleo Fundraising Events (Arnold)
Notts All Terrain Bike Club (Nottinghamshire)
Innes England (Nottinghamshire)
Sherwood Cycling Club (Nottingham)
Open TT and cyclocross events, road races and full calendar of time trials
Pedals: Nottingham Cycle Campaign (Nottingham)
Nottingham Bike Works (Nottingham)
Velo Club Flintham (Flintham)
Vale of Belvoir Cycling Club (Bingham)
Manor Nifty 50s (Mansfield)
Phoenix MTB Club (Nottinghamshire)
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.