Seven ways to plan great new cycling routes

If you are tired of riding the same routes ride after ride, and want to explore new roads and climbs then these tips could be right up your street

This article is part of a series on getting ride ready, supported by Tredz (opens in new tab)

When we head out for a ride we are typically very set in our ways, riding the same roads, the same local climbs and perhaps only deviating when riding with friends or club mates who dictate an altered route.

However there is no need to make your routes stagnate into similarity ride after ride, so we've put together a few easy tips to shake up your rides for the summer months.

Research Strava heatmaps

Scanning through tens or hundreds of rides on Strava may be an enjoyable hobby for most people looking for new rides, but a more efficient and in-depth way of doing the same thing is looking at the sporting social media and activity tracking platform's heat maps.

This shows exactly just how popular certain roads and routes are, not only giving you an idea of where cyclists have ventured on their rides but where is safe to avoid busy, dangerous, and most importantly less enjoyable cycling roads.

Take side roads on the way to the country lanes

When we leave our house we are often on autopilot on where we want to head to, but even a slight diversion on our way can not only add a few extra kilometres to our route but give a fresh start to our ride.

Who knows, it may become your autopilot route the next time you leave the house or you could snag a unique Strava KOM as well.

Find new ways to get to country roads you use (Dan Gould)

Upgrade your GPS game

Cycling with a bike computer may be something you have done for years or maybe something you haven’t wanted or felt the need for before.

However they can be an extremely useful tool to not only devise new routes but also help improve your riding experience.

The Garmin Edge 530 GPS cycling computer for example has dynamic performance monitoring, giving insight into your VO2 max, recovery, training load, nutrition and hydration. As well as a battery life of 20 hours with GPS, devices like this are ideal guides for you on your long rides.

Explore VeloViewer’s max square and explorer tool

For all those data geeks out there VeloViewer may already be part of your riding arsenal. But for those who are uninitiated with VeloViewer, the program has a number of really useful tools to help you discover new routes.

One of these is max square which takes all of your rides from Strava and creates a heat map amongst a grid that covers the entire world, where the aim is to visit as many tiles as you can to create your biggest max square or max cluster.

It may require you to ride down cul-de-sacs, off-road and even into territory you would never expect to on two wheels, but it certainly is an addictive way to switch up your cycling routes.

Drive somewhere new to begin your ride

Now this idea may not be as satisfying as leaving your front door and returning without the use of an assisted mode of transport. But a short 20-minute drive can open up a whole range of route possibilities.

This may in particular be useful if you live in a valley and have to climb from your front door, live on the coast where the only option is to cycle in one direction, or if you just want to freshen up your routes.

Tick off the 100 Climbs

When you think about cycling, riding up climbs is one of the key things that all cyclists want to tick off their list.

The 100 Climbs (opens in new tab) series not only has a national list to cover, but also regional areas of 100 climbs as well as French, Italian and Belgian versions as well.

Basing your ride a well known climb can give you new ideas for rides (Dan Gould)

Prepare for the long haul

Being free and venturing out into the open world is one of the main reasons most of us fell in love with cycling in the first place. But ensuring you are prepared for what a long ride may throw at you is crucial.

Making sure you have nutritional supplies and mechanical spares in case you get into any mishaps far from civilization is essential, as is having clothing suitable for the weather you are riding in and any changes you can expect over a long ride.

All of these tips should give you the opportunity to explore new cycling routes for the months ahead.

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Paul Knott is a fitness and features writer, who has also presented Cycling Weekly videos as well as contributing to the print magazine as well as online articles.  In 2020 he published his first book, The Official Tour de France Road Cycling Training Guide (Welbeck), a guide designed to help readers improve their cycling performance via cherrypicking from the strategies adopted by the pros.