Be certain of your level of fitness, or at least be prepared to cut the route into smaller stages as certain sections of the route can be very demanding. Use this guide, browse the Sustrans map, plan ahead and try to set yourself a realistic daily mileage target.

Do not underestimate the amount of liquid you will need to carry. The norm should be two bottles in the morning and two in the afternoon,        but a lot more if it’s hot (not a problem in 2008!) One cyclist who rode the route in the heat of an uncommon British summer (2000) got through 7 bottles in the morning and another 7 in the afternoon!

By all means take a mobile phone with you but for some of the  route the reception will be non-existent or poor at best, especially in the hilly central areas.

If you plan to ride road sections late in the day then take some lights with you because even in summer the mist can come down very quickly in the hills or unforeseen punctures etc. can slow you down. It is still a good idea to carry lights with you regardless.

It is a good idea to take a bike lock with you, whether going into shops or just visiting a site of interest, as it makes it a lot less daunting for you leaving your pride and joy in the reasonable certainty that it will be there on your return.

You will find that your bike handling skills quickly improve during the ride; hills that were near impossible at the start of the ride will seem a lot easier at the end; and you will very quickly learn how to pick the best line between the dog deposits.

Oh yes and don’t forget – enjoy yourself!

The Bike Bit

Bike Bit

You might have got yourself into shape to complete the route but have you thought about your bike and how it will cope with the extra demands you are about to place on it?

Below is a basic (very basic) list of checks you should carry out on your bike before you start and don’t do them the night before you set off! If you are in any doubt as to your competence regarding cycle maintenance then take your bike into the local bike shop to get it serviced.

Brakes – Make sure that the blocks are not rubbing on the tyre when you apply your brakes, also check that the blocks hit the rim squarely and do not slide under the rim. Check that the blocks are not overly worn and that they connect with the rim cleanly.
Cables – Check that neither the gear or brake cables are frayed. If they are, replace them.
Tyres – The tyres should be inflated correctly to manufacturers recommendations and check the amount of tread left. If in doubt, replace them.
Lubrication – Apply lubrication to front and rear mechs, brake holder pivots, all entry and exit points on cable outers, chain, brake lever pivot points and reapply lubrication at the end of each days riding
Spares – Check out the spares list on the right hand side of this page for a basic list of kit to take with you.