Adding the –D to “Gran Fondo:” Biking in Devon

Adding the –D to “Gran Fondo:” Biking in Devon Picture 1

Written by Emily Stewart, App for Devon contributor and Director of BASEDtraveler Books & Media

Plymouth, one of Devon’s brightest cities, is proud to host the first Gran Fondo in Devon at the end of May 2015.  According to Gran Fondo guide (, Gran Fondos are “both a sporting event and cultural experience. And it’s truly Italian.” This Italian tradition has been brought to Plymouth through a partnership between Rockets & Rascals, a local bike hire and coffee shop, in conjunction with Sutton Harbour Experience (a PR and marketing organization that directs most of what happens in the Sutton Harbour area). While this event is doing a lot to bring attention to Devon’s cycling scene, it is only a small highlight of the many cycling opportunities Devon has to offer.

Within the last decade Devon County Council has ramped up its efforts to promote cycling in the region. Its website of cycling-related information aptly titled Cycle Devon provides ample information on everything from cycling basics to family-friendly route maps (the groups Facebook name is “Travel Devon”). Most Devonians and visitors will have noticed the blue and red National Cycle Network route notices posted throughout the county; Cycle Devon provides details on these routes and others. It lists cycling clubs, an excellent opportunity for all ages and cycling abilities to meet fellow cycle-minded folk. Not only are these groups a fun way to keep fit but they also lead novice bikers on interesting routes with café and pub stops. Cycling can be intimidating to new roadies. Cycle Devon helps to ease the transition by providing basic details for maintaining your bike, riding on trails, and commuting, with resources for developing skills.

Another resource for new and old cyclists are cycle hire shops. You might find use of these shops when traveling through Devon. Or, you might be interested in testing a new type of bike. Asking visitors to enjoy a day out biking Devon’s trails and streets is a fabulous and healthful way to show them the countryside. Most cycle shops provide bikes, maps, and gear for such events. One option is Saddles & Paddles, an Exeter-based shop on the Exe Estuary Trail Cycle Route. This portion of the National Cycle Route is a traffic-free way to ride from the city to the ocean. As a 25-year old company, Saddles & Paddles is recognized by locals and visitors alike.

If you find yourself further North in Bideford, you might visit the Bideford Bicycle Hire. Like Saddles & Paddles, it’s located on a National Cycle Route trail that connects ocean with city. In the Bideford area revellers can enjoy 34 miles of traffic-free cycling in and around Barnstaple, Torridge, and Appledore along the Tarka Trail. These spaces are so easily to casually tour, dotted with Devonian pubs and produce shops oceanic scene (Appledore’s coast is a highlight). If you fancy 2/3 of a triathlon (ha, ha, ha…).

True to Devonian form, both Saddles & Paddles and Bidefore Bicycle Hire connect visitors with resources for cycling and beach-combing. Be sure to use all the coast and these fantastic companies have to offer by renting kayasks, canoes, surfboards, and other water sports items.

For more information on Saddles & Paddles and Bideford Bicycle Hire, visit the “Activities” section of the App for Devon page.

For more information on the Gran Fondo, including details on the distance of its two routes and details for entry, visit its website:

Saddles & Paddles also recommends the Devon County Council's "Cycle Devon" website as the best resource for beginning to advanced cyclists: