Long distance ride in the UK – what to do about sleeping and eating?

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  • Long distance ride in the UK – what to do about sleeping and eating?
  • alfabus

    I’m thinking of going for a ride next week… most likely riding the wessex way from weston-super-mare to eastbourne.

    Not sure what pace I’ll be doing, so don’t fancy booking B&Bs. Should I just wing it and see if I can find places en route, or bivvy it and try not to die.

    I’m happy eating fish and chips, pubs, Chinese etc., or getting pre-cooked stuff from supermarkets to avoid having to carry cooking gear, but is this going to leave me spending more time searching for shops and takeaways than enjoying the ride?

    Experiences, advice and abuse, please.


    Bivvy it and try not to die.

    I’m doing a 1200 mile tour of scotland next month and that’s what i’m intending to do.


    Do some training and do it in a day? πŸ˜†

    Previous thread


    Do some prep before the ride so you know where youth hostels, travelodges etc near the route are, then pack the bivvy kit and make the decisions based on how much further you want to ride that day.

    Conversely, with the bivvy kit you have an emergency option if there’s no room at the inn.

    Having no particular goal for a day can be quite liberating πŸ˜€


    Damn you all , I going to have to pull my finger out and get on with my own Odessy
    Sorry slight off topic

    Good luck


    Yeah… 250 miles…. not going to do it in a day πŸ˜‰

    I think bivvy kit just in case seems sensible, then i can see if any b&b’s or travelodges make themselves obvious en route, or just kip in a field if the weather is nice.

    I don’t have any fancy bikepacking setup, was just going to do it on my cx bike with panniers… or better still, try to jam everything into a dry bag and bungee it on the rack for a better aero setup πŸ˜€



    Do some prep before the ride

    Did similar a few years ago but without the prep – it does cloud the day from about mid-afternoon once you start being pre-occupied about whether or not you’ll find somewhere to stay and/or eat.

    Before your trip, I would suggest compiling a list of places in the approximate areas where you think you might stop, then ringing to book early on the corresponding day of your ride, then you can be more carefree.

    Have also booked places all in advance, but that takes away your choices and I think it’s a bit less enjoyable.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    Have also booked places all in advance, but that takes away your choices and I think it’s a bit less enjoyable.

    Problem with that is you then *have* to make that destination. Crap weather, mechanicals, injury etc can all put paid to that or make it a total slog to reach your destination. Alternatively, you may find it’s a gorgeous day, tailwind, everything going well and you want to go a bit further.

    I’d go with the “wing it” approach. Compile a list of B&Bs, Travel Lodges etc in the rough area you expect to be, phone them at lunchtime-ish once you’ve worked out roughly where you’ll be or where you want to stop.

    Premier Icon cynic-al

    I’ve always toured “on the hoof”.

    A wee stove with you and shop en route, the evening cooking becomes fun and a time to reflect on the day.


    no prep (its cheating)
    and wing it.

    I rode to italy in that fashion earlier this year. The UK is not exactly the most remote places in the world.



    Are you doing the coastal roads ?
    Had this penciled in for the summer,but a dodgy knee is doing it’s best to knacker my training. πŸ™

    My plan was to borrow a trailer from a mate so I could haul more stuff. Then I could just stop where I collapsed at the end of the day. πŸ˜‰

    Well worth being completely self sufficient with a wee stove, pan and kettle. Just being able to stop and make a coffee when / wherever you like is a joy! A couple of bread rolls and a tin of macaroni doesn’t weigh too much and you can pick up stuff like that anywhere.

    Treat the night(s) in a B&B as an unexpected treat. I did a month meandering around NW Scotland like this and it was very freeing.


    if the weather is nice, then the idea of cooking and sleeping al fresco can’t be bettered…. if it is cold/wet/miserable, then I’d rather hole up and dry out ready for the next day (or go home).

    Does anyone reckon it is worth taking dry bag bungeed to a rack over ortlieb panniers?

    easy for lugging the bike on the train home and lifting over any stiles, plus probably more likely to stay still when riding.

    @fasthaggis – I rode the SDW with a mate who had a heavily laden bob trailer once; some of the hills it took both of us to push his bike/trailer up them! Light is right!



    Just wing it with a bivi. Half of the adventure is not knowing what is going to happen so just go with the flow. Ride when you want, sleep when you want.

    A bit of planning enroute so you know where your next opportunity to get food/water(if natural methods arent available) and just take it one pedal stroke at a time.

    The less gear you take the more fun you’ll have, so just take a bivi/sleepingbag/mat/cash and you’ll be fine

    Are you doing the coastal roads ?
    Had this penciled in for the summer,but a dodgy knee is doing it’s best to knacker my training.

    Edinburgh, Annan, round the coast all the way to Tongue and back via Inverness and the old A9. Maybe extend it round the Aberdeenshire coast if time allows.

    Considering doing it on the SS CX bike as that is the only bike i have that takes a pannier racks easily.

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    Long distances are not about the bike, it’s all about getting a decent feed IMO. I always found that to be the most important thing. Once you’ve had a good tuck-in details like somewhere to camp become less pressing.

    Getting your eating arrangements sorted makes doing big mileages easy.

    When I was young I had very little money but used to go off for a week at a time – I could come home with change from 10 bob.

    I preferred to avoid towns so the only time I would look for a cafe was in the morning.

    I used to use 2 Thermos flasks. One full of hot food, and the other hot water. When I stopped I made myself some tea right away and ate without having to wait for cooking. While I was eating, the next batch of water was getting boiled and also the next meal to go in the Thermoses. BTW cheap canned stew tastes really good after about 3 hours in the flask – mix in some oats or powdered spud and it’s even better. πŸ™‚

    I usually slept under something with a bit of shelter sooner than unpack the tent unless it was raining.

    Breakfast was just a cup of tea and the remains of yesterday’s loaf, the idea being to get riding asap to get the chill out of my bones. If I was feeling flush, I’d stop at the first transport cafe for for a proper cyclist’s breakfast of eggs, bacon and lashing of tea. I’d pour some of their milk into my little bottle for later use, and use the bog to get myself and eating gear clean. Otherwise I’d just stop and make some porridge and tea.

    Shopping was done just before lunch. Whatever tinned food I bought was emptied into the thermos so I didn’t have to cart the tin around – it was binned right away. If I could get a loaf of French bread, that would get tied to the bars and eaten on the move (it’s not such a great idea when it rains πŸ™‚ ), otherwise an ordinary crusty loaf with several of the slices in a handy pocket.

    As user-removed said – it is very freeing to travel like this.

    b r

    also take a lock (and cable) for when you’re stood in the take-away πŸ™‚


    When you say “bivi”, if you mean in a bivi bag and you haven’t done that before, you might not get much sleep. It takes a while to get used to sleeping without even a tent around you. Don’t get me wrong, I love biving and spend more time in a bivi than a tent, but it takes some getting used to.

    If I were you, I’d take a tent and get my hot meal during the day. You’re bound to pass somewhere where you can get decent food somewhere along the route. Go for that nice hot meal the first chance you get. Then carry the other food you need on the bike. Psychologically, one hot meal a day is nice, whether that turns out to be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. By not having cooking kit, you’ll save a load of weight, bulk, and faff.

    From a practical point-of-view, if you’re taking a bivi bag and a tarp to guard against the weather, you’re into the same sort of weight as a tent anyway but the tent will be easier to pitch than the tarp.

    I always figure that you spend most of your time riding, so having a light bike is worth skipping a few home comforts. But I am normally at the fairly ascetic end of these things.


    I’m used to bivying, but I won’t be taking a tarp – I’d probably just bivvy if the weather is nice and make more of an effort to find a room somewhere if it is raining since my kit will be wet as well.

    If I was going to sleep out whatever the weather, I’d take my little tent (terra nova laser) and some proper cooking stuff. I think cooking on the trail will be the exception on this trip, rather than the rule.


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