Cycling in the West Midlands

Cycling in the West Midlands

Cycling in the West Midlands

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

Whether Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice or not, as the cliché goes, it certainly has a lot more cycleways. The towpath network – ranging from superb surfaces to bumpy muddy tracks – can take you from the smart redevelopment of Gas Street basin to many parts of the city.

A few on-road routes exist, too – getting to Edgbaston cricket ground from the station is pretty well signed, for instance. It’s part of NCN5, which runs roughly north-south through the city, mostly car-free, on its way from Reading to Holyhead.

Britain’s second city may be something of a sprawl, with a lot of busy roads, but there are lots of short (1-3 mile) family-friendly cycle tracks, easy to get to by train, that you can cycle with even small children. Examples include Bournbrook Route, from Selly Oak to Woodgate Valley; Merritts Brook Greenway, from Ley Hill to Bournville, celebrating the city’s chocolate heritage; the Rea Valley Millennium Route from Cannon Hill Park to Cotteridge; or Perry Hall Fields at Hamstead.

But West Midlands cycling is often about canal towpaths (so narrow-tyred road bikes aren’t always the best choice). For instance, NCN81 branches off that NCN5 north of Birmingham and leads all the way to Wolverhampton on a canal towpath; NCN54, meanwhile, links Stourbridge with Dudley traffic-free and utilising more towpaths. Over in Coventry, a towpath stretch of its canal is the NCN52, while at Dudley’s Netherton Tunnel you can try one of the most psychologically challenging bike rides in Britain: surviving two miles of dark, narrow, spooky towpath in Netherton Tunnel. 

Cycling groups and clubs in the West Midlands

Dudley CTC (Dudley)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/dudley

http://ctcdudley.org/

Varied and vibrant programme of half and full-day rides on two Sundays per month

North Birmingham Cycling UK (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/north-birmingham

http://www.northbirminghamcycling.uk/

Over a dozen rides each week mainly in the lanes of Warwickshire and beyond

Earlsdon Wheelers (Earlsdon)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/earlsdon-wheelers

http://www.zen180727.zen.co.uk/earlsdonwheelers/earlsdoncycleclub.html

Offers rides of 20 to 50 miles in and around Coventry and Warwickshire

Royal Sutton Cycling Club (Sutton Coldfield)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/royal-sutton-cycling-club

http://www.royalsutton.co.uk/index.shtml

Helps experienced and novice cyclists join in the local cycling scene

Wolverhampton Wheelers CC (Wolverhampton)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/wolverhampton-wheelers-cc

http://www.wolverhamptonwheelers.co.uk/

Road racing, cyclocross, mountain biking, time trials and monthly lectures

Team Gallagher (West Midlands)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/team-gallagher

Joyful Bellas and Fellas (Solihull)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/joyful-bellas-fellas

Pathfinders CCYW (Solihull)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/pathfinders-ccyw

Npower Bicycle Users Group (Solihull)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/npower-bicycle-users-group

Solihull Cycling Club (Solihull)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/solihull-cycling-club

http://www.solihullcc.org.uk/

Diverse club which promotes all aspects of the sport from racing to social activities

Saheli Cycling Club (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/saheli-cycling-club

Ashiana (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/ashiana

Green Bike Project (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/green-bike-project

Pushbikes (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/pushbikes

http://www.pushbikes.org.uk/

Campaigns for better cycling in Birmingham and Solihull and organises social events and rides

Beacon Roads (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/beacon-roads-cc

http://www.beaconrcc.org.uk/

Broad-based club active in south Birmingham and north Worcestershire

Hopwood Ladies CC (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/hopwood-ladies-cc

http://hopwoodladiescyclingclub.co.uk/wp/

Meets three times a week for rides of varying lengths

Longbridge Ladies Cycling Club (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/longbridge-ladies-cycling-club

Cycle South Brum (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/cycle-south-brum

Stourbug Bicycle User Group (Stourbridge)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/stourbug-bicycle-user-group

http://www.stourbug.org.uk/

Offers rides most days of the year covering different distances and at different speeds

Stourbridge CC (Stourbridge)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/stourbridge-cc

http://www.stourbridgecyclingclub.co.uk/

Supports competitive and non-competitive, on and off-road cycling

Halesowen Athletics and Cycling Club (Halesowen)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/halesowen-athletics-cycling-club

Saltley Community Association (Saltley)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/saltley-community-association

B10 CCC (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/b10-ccc

Balsall Heath CCC (Balsall Heath)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/balsall-heath-ccc

Cycle Chain Ltd (West Midlands)  

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/cycle-chain-ltd

Bike West Midlands Network (West Midlands)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/bike-west-midlands-network

Centro (West Midlands)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/centro

https://www.tfwm.org.uk/development/

TfWM supports and develops walking and cycling as attractive and practical options for getting around the West Midlands

Hoare Lea Cycling Club (West Midlands)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/hoare-lea-cycling-club

The Sikh Helpline (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/sikh-helpline

Gear Up (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/gear

IVC Members (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/ivc-members

Bike North Birmingham Community Cycling (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/bike-north-birmingham-community-cycling

Boldmere Bullets (West Midlands)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/boldmere-bullets

http://www.boldmerebullets.com/

A collective celebrating cycling, walking, running and socialising

Pathfinders (West Midlands)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/pathfinders

Chapter 2 (West Midlands)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/chapter-2

Bike2life Cic (Sutton Coldfield)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/bike2life-cic

https://en-gb.facebook.com/bike2life/

Christian community cycling project encouraging use and recycling of bicycles.

Walsall Area Cycling (Walsall)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/walsall-area-cycling

The Giro (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/c-c-giro

http://www.ccgiro.net/

For young and old, returnees and new riders and recreational and competitive riders

Handsworth Beat The Street CCC (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/handsworth-beat-street-ccc

https://m.facebook.com/Handsworthcyclingclub/

Builds a fun active cycling club together and to bring a sense of unity

Warwickshire Road Club (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/warwickshire-road-club

https://warwickshirerc.wordpress.com/about/

Road races, time trials, leisure and general fitness rides for members

I-Cycle (Birmingham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/cycle

http://icycle.biz/

Bike shop: social enterprise run by Queen Alexandra College

Heart of England Cycling Club (West Midlands)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/heart-england-cycling-club

http://www.heartofenglandcyclingclub.org.uk/

Road cycling club open to over 18s from south Birmingham, Warks and Worcs

CTC Coventry (Coventry)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/coventry

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 the West Midlands

Getting around Birmingham and Wolverhampton, and canal routes galore

Cycle A-way’s list of routes, maps and resources for the West Midlands

Journey Planner

West Midland Towpath

Cycling Routes in Dudley

Birmingham, Top Tube Map of Traffic-Free Cycle Routes

Cycling events in the West Midlands

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.

Problem areas

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!

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