Cycling in Tyne and Wear
Cycling in Tyne and Wear
Tyne and Wear is a mostly built-up area, and Newcastle, with its patchy infrastructure and busy roads, isn’t always the most relaxing place to cycle around. But there’s some fabulous city cycling to be had in Tyne and Wear, too. Indeed, the traffic-free jaunt along the Tyne through Newcastle and Gateshead – the end of the Coast-to-Coast route from the east – rivals London as Britain’s most exciting urban river route.
You get the best views of the bridges. Pick of the bunch is the iconic, must-cycle Millennium Bridge, crossing from the bars of the north bank to the snazzy Baltic art gallery on the south – though all of them are worth crossing by bike. The riverside paths also give you access to all parts of the north east’s vibrant, sociable capital. NCN72 runs along the north bank and NCN14 along the south, with many parts great for family riding.
Further downriver, the Tyne Cycling Tunnel is one of Britain’s great experiences, a tiled 1950s gem that takes you under the water from Jarrow to North Shields. Dogged by maintenance issues, though, it’s closed for refurbishment until mid-2018.
Along the North Sea coast, NCN1 is a thriller, giving splendid seafront views all the way up from Sunderland (an alternative Coast to Coast ending) to Whitley Bay and beyond, almost all traffic-free and child-friendly.
The ‘reverse C2C’, the Reivers Route, (NCN10) leaves Newcastle northwards on its traffic-free start back towards the east coast, and tourers wanting an unbeatable selfie with bike in front of the region’s mighty symbol, the Angel of the North, can reach it just south of the city by NCN725 or (off-road) NCN11.
Cycling groups and clubs in Tyne and Wear
Houghton Cycling Club (Houghton-le-Spring)
Social, road racing, time trials, touring, mountain, Audax and cyclocross
Tyneside and Northumberland (Tyne and Wear)
North Tyneside Riders Cycling Club (Tyne and Wear)
Ridley CC (Tyne and Wear)
Newcastle Cycling Campaign (Newcastle)
Campaigns for better cycling conditions and more dedicated space for cycling
Tyne Valley Cycling Club (Tyne and Wear)
Encourages, promotes, and develops the sport of road cycling
Choose2Ride BUG (Tyne and Wear)
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 Tyne and Wear
Getting around Newcastle and Sunderland, Hadrian’s Cycleway, and countryside rides