Summer evening cycling: five perfect post-work rides

group of friends
group of cyclists

The Great British Summer is here and what better way to spend the long evernings then on your bike? It's time to ride, to explore and to get outdoors!

We know what British summers can be famous for though, with rain showers interrupting the most carefully laid plans. But in our book that just means we need to embrace spontaneity.

So the next time the sun is shining, even if it is a work day, why not go for a ride? The evenings are long enough now to fit in a quick post-work cycle followed by a more leisurely post-cycle pint.

Below are our favourite rides on the National Cycle Network for getting out and about after work. So why not gather up some friends and enjoy one of these sunset rides?

1. Cardiff

Taff Trail, between five and 30 miles

There are lots of train stations along National Route 8 so you’ve got your choice of how long you want to make this ride. If you head to Pontypridd then the ride will be roughly 17 miles, you can easily make it longer by heading all the way out to Merthyr Tydfil (30 miles) or shorter by only going to Llandaff (five miles).

Start your journey outside Cardiff in the beautiful surroundings of nature before passing Llandaff Cathedral, Long Wood Nature Reserve and Pontcanna Fields on your way back into the city. Once you’re back in Cardiff you can pop into one of the bay side bars and enjoy a view out over the water.

2. London

Waterlink Way, approx. nine miles

This route allows you to escape busy central London for a few hours and calmly pedal through parks and green spaces and along the Pool and Ravensbourne rivers. You’ll reach the Thames near Greenwich, from where you can cross the Isle of Dogs on Route 1 before heading west along Route 13 towards trendy Whitechapel for a cocktail or further north to Spitalfields and Brick Lane where you can refuel with some tasty food.

To reach the start of the Waterlink Way take a train out to Kent House station.

3. Leeds

Aire Valley Towpath, 17 miles

You can reach the start of this route by taking the train to Crossflatts. With its gentle gradients and smooth surfaces the Aire Valley Towpath is perfect for a relaxing ride at the end of the day. The route takes you along the longest canal in the country, on the way you can see the 200 year old Five Rise Locks at Bingley, when they were opened thousands of people gathered to watch the first boats make the 60 foot descent. They’re still an impressive sight today.

You’ll also pass Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of the Saltaire Brewery. This fantastic spot produces high quality ales and has won several awards. They’re open Tuesday to Sunday, midday till 10pm, and are the perfect place to pause for a mid-ride pint.

4. Edinburgh

Edinburgh to the Forth Road Bridge, 11 miles

Hop on a train in central Edinburgh and head out to Inverkeithing. From here you can join Route 1, which takes you across the stunning Forth Road Bridge via traffic free pedestrian and cycle paths. Riding over the bridge is truly special, you’ll be afforded amazing views of the rail bridge as you cross.

After you’re across the water head east through Queensferry, following Route 76 up and around the coast and then re-join Route 1 to head back into Edinburgh.

You can then enjoy a well-earned whiskey in one of Edinburgh’s many fantastic bars.

5. Bristol

Ride to the North Somerset Coast, approx 33 miles

This is a bit of a longer one so you may want to save it for a little later in the year, depending on how fast you pedal. Starting in central Bristol head out south west along the Festival Way to Ashton Court, once you’re there follow Route 334 all the way to Sheepway. Once you’re there you can join Route 26 and head on to Portishead, a lovely spot to stop and look out over the Severn Estuary towards Wales.

When you’re ready to leave Portishead head back along Route 26, then join Route 41 and breeze back alongside the river towards Bristol. The path by the river can get muddy after rain so this is one to do after some decent weather. It’s also unlit so make sure you bring lights.

You’ll have gorgeous views across the river towards Clifton and Hotwells as you cycle back towards Bristol. You’ll pass underneath the dramatic Clifton Suspension Bridge, giving you an opportunity to admire this marvel of Victorian engineering from below.

The route is unsurfaced and can be quite rough at points.

Several of these trips offer options to get a train to one end of the route, saving you from having to double back on yourself. Before you plan a trip we’d advise checking any restrictions or booking requirements on the train line you intend to travel on. You could also cycle the route out and back rather than getting the train one way.

What’s your favourite post-work ride? Share your tips with us on Facebook or tag us in a photo of your ride on Instagram.

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