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Bristol to London

samg123samg123 Posts: 275
edited June 2012 in Tour & expedition
I'm planning a fundraising ride from Bristol to London for a charity I'm involved with and could do with some pointers on the route. The route I take also depends on another decision I'd like help with: do I do it on my normal road bike or my singlespeed conversion? I'm leaning towards the singlespeed because a lot of people do similar rides and I'd quite like to stand out from the crowd a little.
Is riding it singlespeed a realistic goal? Would I be able to take a relatively flat route?


  • rodgers73rodgers73 Posts: 2,626
    Cycling Active has exactly this ride as a feature in the current edition (April)
  • I'm planning to ride from London to Bath next weekend. I'll look for Cycling Active magazine next week. In the meantime, if anyone's got the magazine, is most of the ride along the A4? This seems to be the route on most website, and the National Cycle Route 4 doesn't look road bike friendly.

    The Google Maps satellite view of the A4 features a lot of bit roundabouts and lorries, so it would be good to hear from anyone's who's cycled on it (and survived) or who knows an alternative route that can be done in a day.

    Many thanks.

  • nlyallnlyall Posts: 1
    Hi, I am also looking to do the same ride in June. I guess you may have now done this, but would be very interested to know how you got on and what route you took in the end. I came to the same conclusion about route 4, in that it is too slow and not friendly for roaf bikes. On the other hand I cannot imagine the A4 to be much fun! I appreciate your input. Many thanks. Neil
  • holiverholiver Posts: 800
    Hope you don't mind me jumping in on this thread!

    I'm planning to do London to Bristol over the Jubilee weekend and am starting to research it.

    I'll be using my mountain bike to do it, fitted with slicks and it looks like route 4 would be a much more relaxed and scenic route than the A4, which is a big road! Thinking about travelling as light as possible, and using a B&B or two.

    Does anyone have any advice?

  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,533
    If following route 4, then download this guide ... eguide.pdf

    Following the canal towpaths from Reading to Bath, which are pretty good but not really for a roadbike, then an old railway line which has been turned into fantastic bike trail, on which a road bike would be OK. Its a fantastic ride - I did it with my 12 year old last year. holiver - I would definately go this way rather than A4 as its so much more scenic, no traffic etc. Note there are some points where route 4 takes you onto roads rather than towpath - do as they tell you as the towpath is really bumpy and rutted on those bits if you dont.

    I think on a roadbike you are stuck with the A4 unless you know the locality - I know how to avoid it and go on much nicer roads from Newbury to Reading, but west of Newbury I am not sure it is so easy.
  • crakercraker Posts: 2,060
    My take on London to Bristol is that the towpath is slow (and unsuitable for road bikes), the A4 is direct but not generally that pleasant. There's a plethora of minor roads that go the same sort of way if you're prepared to do some navigating.

    I've done Uxbridge -> Newbury and found it really hard to avoid the A4. Between Reading and Newbury it's OK (wide and flat) but I know from experience there's better routes the other sode of the river. A bit bumpier maybe..

    I've also cycled Newbury -> Wales; my route went something like Hungerford -> Marlborough -> Malmesbury -> Cotswolds (but I was aiming north of Bristol). Some lovely bits around Marlborough, although I think you have to climb out of the Kennet valley (but I reason you'd have to do that on the A4 too).

    I've got a GPS (a really basic one that just lead me from one preprogrammed waypoint to another) and that made the navigation a doddle, however if you rely on road signs you'll end up back on the A4.

    In summary, put some effort into the navigation and get off the beaten track.
  • holiverholiver Posts: 800
    Thanks guys. I was thinking about getting the following maps to help: ... -cycle-map ... -cycle-map

    I wonder if they will be detailed enough to help with minor routes that might be faster than the towpath, but much less busy than other roads?
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,533
    One possible route - I know many of the roads from Bracknell to Marlborough - much better than the A4. Bristol end is using the Bristol Railway route - you might prefer roads but this is great IMO.
  • samg123samg123 Posts: 275
    How not nice is the a4? I think I'd draw the line at dual carriageway...
    I'll be trying to get it done in a relatively good time, so im not sure how much time I'll be able to spend playing around on country lanes.
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,533
    Sorry - forgot to post the link:
  • holiverholiver Posts: 800
    That looks like a really nice route! Thank you so much! I also found this one, but it doesn't follow the canal at all.
  • holiverholiver Posts: 800
    OK, think I've finalised my route:

    My only concern at present is finding somewhere to stay over the first night. I genuinely have no idea how far I'll be able to cycle on day one. I cycled out to Windsor last weekend, which was ~60km and took about 3 hours, and was feeling pretty tired at the end. However that ride will have helped my fitness a lot, and the cooler weather may mean I'm able to go further. Not sure I'll be able to reach Newbury though? We'll see! I'll be calling up some B&Bs on the route to see what their availability is like...

    Does anyone have any recommendations though?

  • redveeredvee Posts: 11,921
    The only comment about the route is avoid Park Street when you get to Bristol, instead climb up past the BRI. A lot less steep.
    I've added a signature to prove it is still possible.
  • holiverholiver Posts: 800
    Cheers redvee. I'm actually from Bristol so know what I'm getting myself into! I was also on Park Street a few weeks back and was surprised at how small and less steep it looked now compared to how it seemed when I was a schoolboy!
  • holiverholiver Posts: 800
    OK, finished this yesterday evening after two days in the saddle. Yesterday's weather sucked massive balls! It rained pretty much the entire way in from Marlborough. I was not in a good mood when I reached Devizes and had some lunch!

    Anyway, here the data downloaded from the Garmin I bought to helped guide me. I have to say it was a massive help, as I didn't have to resort to my phone or a map once.

    Thanks for everyones help.
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