Cycling in South Yorkshire

Cycling for health in Sheffield
Looking for information about cycling in South Yorkshire? Cycling UK's guide to cycling in South Yorkshire gives you routes, events, clubs and advice to inspire you to cycle in the county.

South Yorkshire can feel a largely industrial place, from the hilly urban areas of Barnsley and steel city Sheffield in the west to the flat marshy plains around Doncaster, where the horizon is dominated by power station cooling towers. There’s still some good cycling to be found, though it takes a bit of research.

Busy Sheffield isn’t always the easiest place to cycle round, and getting out the city usually involves a long climb – plenty of practice for its many active cycling clubs. The moorland country round Bradfield, northwest of the city, at least has quiet roads, most of them a challenge for fans of hills. The woods to the north of Sheffield have some good mountain biking, and are crossed by NCN627/67.

But Sheffield has two traffic-free escapes: one southwest along NCN627/67 towards Rother Valley Country Park, and another northeast along part of the Transpennine Trail (TPT). Indeed, the TPT is South Yorkshire’s big route, crossing the county from Penistone, south of Barnsley, across to Doncaster. Most of it is traffic-free, and there are some fabulous family-friendly sections of a mile or two (west of Penistone; the NCN6 canal towpath by Magna centre from Sheffield to Rotherham; or the Elsecar Greenway for instance).

In fact, the TPT is rather a piecemeal affair, with legs and arms heading out in various directions; it’s best ridden in instalments rather than as an in-one-go coast-to-coast. 

Cycling groups and clubs in South Yorkshire

Sheffield District CTC (Sheffield)

Non-competitive club covering South Yorkshire and beyond; also campaigns

Doncaster (Doncaster)

Non-competitive club covering South Yorkshire and beyond; also campaigns

Sprotbrough Cyklists Group (Sprotborough)

Barnsley Mountain Bikers (Barnsley)

Cross-country rides in Penistone, Barnsley and Peak District for all abilities

Sheffield Mountain Bikers (Sheffield)

Parks and Countryside Sheffield CC (Sheffield)

University of Sheffield (Sheffield)

Common Lane Occasionals (Sheffield)

Cycle Sheffield (Sheffield)

Campaigns to make cycling inclusive and easy, not limited to the quick and the brave

Ride Sheffield (Sheffield)

Advocacy group working for local mountain bikers

Porter Valley Bike 4 Fun (Sheffield)

Trikes 4 Transport (Sheffield)

Classico Bici (South Yorkshire)

Business that buys, sells and rents classic bikes; also links to Eroica events in UK and Italy

Cycling4everyone (South Yorkshire)

Whirlow Wheelers Cycling Club (Sheffield)

Road club offering Sunday rides

Porter Valley Tour de Force (Sheffield)

Shipshape Mums Cycling Club (Sheffield)

Sheffield Cycling 4 All (Sheffield)

The Princess Alexia Fund (Rotherham)

Cycle Penistone (Penistone)

Penistone Cycling Club (Penistone)

Birdwell Wheelers (Birdwell)

MTB For Mental Health (Sheffield)

Elmsall Road Club (South Elmsall)

Yorkshire Peak Riders (Doncaster)

HRS Services Ltd (Sheffield)

Yorkshire Cycling Federation (Yorkshire)

Pontefract Cycling Club (Pontefract)

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 saddlebagpanniers 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? Recommend your favourite routes using the comments box below.