Cycling in the Black Country
Cycling in the Black Country
The Black Country is an area with a strong industrial heritage and is definitely worth a visit by bike. The hidden gem of the region is its extensive canal network that spreads through the heart of the region, giving access to green space whilst giving a glimpse into the regions history. Towns such as Stourbridge, Walsall, Brierley Hill and Wolverhampton are just a few within easy reach of the canal network providing excellent places to stop for a rest while you explore. Much of this network has been resurfaced and is excellent for cycling for leisure or commuting. National cycle routes 5, 81 and 54 all make use in parts of the canal network and some on road quiet routes.
There are many cycling clubs across the area including several of Cycling UK’s Community Cycling Clubs which have been set up in partnership with Transport for West Midlands details of which can be found below.
Cycling groups and clubs in the Black Country
Cycling groups in Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton Wheelers CC: Road racing, cyclocross, mountain biking, time trials and monthly lectures
Aldersley Stadium on Mondays, Wednesday's and Friday's for all ages and abilities.
Wildside Community Cycle Club: Family led rides off road routes, South Staffordshire railway line and canal pathway.
Wolverhampton Bike Shed: A community based project offering bicycle repair and recycling.
Cycling Groups in the Dudley area
Stourbug Cycling Club: Offering rides almost every day of the year at different times to suit riders needs. The rides cover a range of distances and speeds to suit ability.
Stourbridge CC: Off road Saturday Rides, Sunday Touring rides to gruelling days out with the faster, fitter groups.
Brockmoor Community Cycle Club: Thursday mornings 09.30 – 11.30am Advance Booking required. Learn to Ride for Adults, Get Back into Cycling. Bikes can be provided.
Halesowen Athletics and Cycling Club: Halesowen A&CC is one of the leading cycling clubs in the West Midlands, a club with a proven track record of developing world class cyclists.
Get Cycling For 50 plus: Offering a range of short and longer rides to cater for different levels of ability. Everyone is welcome!
Cycling Groups in the Walsall Area
Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club: Adult only sessions, ideal for beginners and people that want to get back into cycling with Led Rides and bikes available for use on a first come first served basis.
Walsall Bike Project Maintenance Club: Beginners maintenance meetings for people that want to look after their own bicycles.
Palfrey Park Community Cycle Club: Women Only cycle skills sessions from Learn to ride, Get back into Cycling to Led rides.
Cycling Groups in the Sandwell Area
Smethwick Beat The Streets community Cycling Club: Weekend and midweek sessions for adults and children – Learn to Ride , Get Back into cycling!
What to take with you on your ride
The only thing you really need for cycling is a bike. And maybe a phone, and credit card: in Britain you’re only a call away from any service you might need.
But unless money is no object, it’s wise to take a few things with you on a day ride. A saddlebag or rear rack and panniers are best for carrying stuff. A front basket is second best. A rucksack is third best. Your sweaty back will soon tell you why.
Cycling short distances in jeans and t-shirt is fine, but on a long or strenuous ride – over ten miles say, or in hills – those jeans will rub and the t-shirt will get damp and clingy. Shorts or, yes, lycra leggings and padded shorts will be much comfier, and merino or polyester cycling tops wick away the sweat, keeping you dry and comfy. (They don’t have to be lurid colours.)
If rain’s in the air, pack a rainproof top. If it might turn chilly, take a fleece or warm top. But the thing you’re most likely to forget is the sunblock.
It’s remarkable how often you enjoy being out on the bike so much that you suddenly realise it’s getting dark. So take lights (which are legally required at night). They’re price of a sandwich, take no space, are easy to put on thanks to tool-free plastic clips, and the batteries last for ever.
Take a puncture repair kit (with tyre levers) and pump. Make sure it fits your valves, which will be either ‘Presta’ or ‘Schraeder’ – realising they don’t match is a very common roadside discovery! Carrying a spare inner tube (make sure it matches your tyre size) makes puncture repair much easier: mend the old one back at home. If you do get in trouble, some kindly passing cyclist will probably stop to help.
Using a helmet is a personal choice – they’re not legally required.
Cycling makes you thirsty, so take lots of water. Long-distance riders talk about ‘the bonk’ – a sudden loss of energy rendering you almost stationary. It’s miraculously and instantly cured by eating something sweet. On short rides you’re unlikely to run out of energy, but just in case, take a snack like flapjack, banana, chocolate or jelly babies.
Taking a packed lunch or picnic will save you money, though that hot drink and cake in a cosy cafe could yet prove very tempting!
Your phone GPS could be invaluable for showing where you are when lost; you can download free detailed UK maps and GPS software before your trip.
Paper maps are still useful, though, so take one: no power source or wifi signal required, and they’re great for suggesting possibilities or changes of plan.
What have we missed? Recommend your favourite routes using the comments box below.
Cycling routes in the West Midlands
Getting around Birmingham and Wolverhampton, and canal routes galore
Cycling events in the West Midlands
Make sure your bike is working
(from our partners, Halfords)
Creaking cranks, wobbly wheels or slipping saddles are the last thing you want, but Halfords' guide to basic bike maintenance will keep you rolling smoothly. Whether you’re a regular commuter, a leisurely weekend rider, or prefer to tear it up on a serious MTB trail, signs of wear and tear might keep you off the saddle from time to time. Whilst we can’t promise to banish those roadside mishaps, we can help keep your bike tip top with our top tips!
You’re heading out on your lovely bike, with a pannier packed with your essentials. A glorious route lies ahead, but then you run into a spot of bother! Most of the time there are handy hacks you can do to tide you over whilst out and about, and we’ve taken a look into the most common bike problems and solutions…
Clicking saddle? Check that the bolts connecting the saddle to the seat post are not loose. Tighten until the saddle is firmly secured using an allen key from your trusty toolbox!
Squealing brakes? This could be down to dirt or oil on the brake pads. Give it a quick wipe down, then when you get home take the brake pads off and readjust.
Squeaky derailleur? A little lube should help. Remove any excess.
Creaky pedals? Dry pedal bearings, loose crank arms or a worn bottom bracket could be the culprit. Once home, remove and lube the pedal bearings, tighten and lube the crank arms, or replace the bottom bracket if it’s still making a fuss.
Some of the problems you find with your bike might need a closer look, and here’s where we can help!
Wobbling disc rotors, spongy brakes and rattling bolts needn’t be as pesky as they sound for long enough to keep you off your bike! Call and see us with your two wheels at your local Halfords, or with any other bike bothers you might have.
From as little as £15 a year, Halfords will take the labour out of looking after your bike. Halfords offer a range of care packages, they provide free fitting on all parts and accessories bought from Halfords, and even include an annual service worth £50 as part of the plan!