Cycling in Scotland has never been easier to do, and it’s a fantastic way to discover remote places you’d never notice from a car or train. It’s no wonder that more and more people are choosing to explore the country on two wheels – so if you want to give it a go, what do you need to know?
If you’re used to cycling in places like the Netherlands, you may find that Scotland’s cities leave something to be desired, but they’re getting better. Cycle paths are being added at an increasing rate and Glasgow has just set up a public bike hire scheme that makes it easy for visitors who have left their bikes at home to pick up something on which to explore the urban landscape. These three speed machines, neat as they are, won’t cope well with the hills further afield, but it’s not hard to find cycle shops that hire out more suitable bikes for this purpose. From the centre of Glasgow, a ten minute ride in any direction will take you somewhere green, and a two hour ride at average speed will get you to Loch Lomond.
If you want to explore further afield, there’s no need to rely on the roads. Cycle routes beside canals and rivers and along old, converted railway tracks can take you to some truly amazing places. Scotland is celebrated for the diversity of its landscape and cycling can take you past mountains, through thick forests and out into bright, sunlit glens. You can explore the country’s lochs or take to the coastal paths for a sea view – just be warned that Scotland has more coast than the rest of the UK put together, so be ready for a lengthy trip! If you do find yourself exhausted, most trains will accept bikes, at least outside of rush hour, so it’s not too hard to get back to the place where you’re staying. Just remember to carry a repair kit in case you have problems in a remote area, and bear in mind that your mobile phone may not work everywhere.
If you’d like company on your bike trips, there’s always the Gay Outdoors Club, which organises regular trips into the hills and is a great way to connect with local people who can show you the best spots. It’s a fully inclusive group, not just for gay men, although Scotland does of course have one gay male cyclist it’s particularly proud of at the moment – Graeme Obree, the world pursuit champion whose success has inspired many young athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games.
Cycling can be a great ay to connect with Scotland and its people. It’s a means of turning your Scottish holiday into a real adventure.