(Photo: 12th century fresco in Old Kempley Church, Herefordshire on the Welsh Borders Beano)
F.A.Q. – a few questions you might or might not ask!
- Who is Bicycle Beano Cycling Holidays?
- Who comes on Beanos?
- What happens each day?
- How are the rides organised?
- When are the first and last rides on each holiday?
- Will I be fit enough?
- I am an experienced cyclist, will the routes be long enough for me?
- What happens if I have a mechanical problem on the ride?
- What sort of bikes do people ride?
- What do I wear?
- What will the weather be like?
- I am not a vegetarian – will I like the food?
- I am a vegetarian
- Can you provide vegan food?
- What is a typical menu?
- Can you take people with disabilities?
- Where are the prices for the tours?
The following questions are answered on other pages:
- How do I get to the Beano venue?
- How do I book my holiday?
- How do I pay?
- What is included in the price?
- What about insurance?
- Are there discounts for children?
- Can I see your environmental policy?
- Where does the word 'BEANO' come from?
- How do you pronounce Welsh place names?
1: Who is Bicycle Beano?
We are Jane Barnes and Rob Green. We started organising cycling holidays in 1982 after working for Friends of the Earth etc. Bicycle Beano Cycling Holidays was set up to be environmentally-friendly from the beginning. In 1990, Bicycle Beano was nominated by Tourism Concern for the green tourism award at the Berlin Travel Show. VegNews magazine (USA) gave Bicycle Beano a Top 10 Vegetarian Destination 2005 award. We have remained true to our ethos for the last 30 years. Rob is co-author of Cycle Tours Around Birmingham, published by Phillips
2013 will be our 32nd season! We are only doing two beanos in 2013 as we have no desire to be a multi-national conglomerate. We live in Mid Wales and only want to run cycling holidays in Wales and the Welsh Borders of England. We enjoy the sociability and the cycling. We cycle along on all the Beanos, and have one or two helpers who 'sweep' at the back.
Check out our green credentials: Environmental Policy.
See our Meaning of 'Beano' page for a brief explanation of the word 'BEANO'.
and please bookmark and share
2: Who comes on Beanos?
All ages are welcome. There are usually 16 to 28 people on each tour, depending on the size of the venue. On average there are equal numbers of women and men. Usually about half the group are solo travellers, the rest are couples, and sometimes we have one or two families.
In our 31 years experience of running these cycling holidays, it does not seem to matter who comes on Beanos. The fact that we cycle together and socialise together creates a cohesive group. Some people have made life-long friends. For instance, one Beano reunion group has been meeting up every year since 1988.
3: What happens each day?
After breakfast we give everyone a specially designed map and written route instructions. We start the day's ride between 9.30 and 10 am, after a brief talk about the route options. We stop for rests, to visit something interesting en-route, to look at a view, or for morning coffee etc. Lunch is usually between 12 noon and 1.30 pm, mostly at country pubs where there is a choice of meat and veggie meals. After lunch, whether you are doing the short cut, main route or longer detour, we usually meet up for tea or a late afternoon drink before returning to base (between 5 and 6pm.) for tea and cake. Dinner is between 7 and 8pm depending on the ride. There is an optional bike-free day on Wednesday on the Welsh Borders Beano.
4: How are the rides organised?
Each day we do a circular ride of between 35 and 40 miles, returning to the same venue each evening. Mileage depends upon terrain; when it's flat we do more, when it's hilly we do less. Most routes have one or more short cuts. There are also longer detours for those who want extra mileage.
Everyone is given a specially designed map and written instructions. We are inclined to split into groups of people who cycle at the same pace as each other. You can choose whether to cycle with a group or on your own if you prefer. There is no pressure to keep up with the group. Whether you do the short cut, main route, or longer detour, we all aim to have lunch and tea together. This means that couples who cycle at different speeds do not have to cycle together, but can still meet up en-route. We have a non-macho approach to the rides.
We (Jane and Rob) join in the rides and we have one or two helpers who cycle along at the rear.
5: When are the first and last rides on each holiday?
- Welsh Borders Beano:
- People arrive at the venue any time after 4pm on Saturday afternoon for tea and cakes. Dinner is at 7pm. The first ride takes place after breakfast on Sunday morning. The last ride is on Friday. Everyone leaves after breakfast on Saturday morning.
- Ellesmere Beano:
- People arrive at the venue any time after 5pm on Friday afternoon for tea and cakes. Dinner is at 7pm (if you are going to be late, please let us know if you want dinner kept for you). The first ride tis after breakfast on Saturday morning. The last ride is on Tuesday. Everyone leaves after tea and cakes on Tuesday afternoon. If you want to stay over on Tuesday night, B&B can be arranged at The Grange.
6: Will I be fit enough?
You do not have to be super fit. As long as you can cycle at least 30 miles a day without falling apart you will enjoy a Beano – and remember you have got the whole day to do it. Cycling with other people gives you energy – it's easy to forget the miles when you are busy chatting and enjoying the views. We have lots of breaks en-route so you can have a rest from cycling. The beauty of cycling with a group is that there is always somebody else who cycles at the same pace as you.
Staying at just one venue for the holiday means that our routes are flexible. Our rides are roughly circular and return to the same venue each day. We usually have a moderate main route of between 35 and 40 miles a day depending upon terrain, with short cuts and longer detours available if necessary.
7: I am an experienced cyclist, will the routes be long enough for me?
Usually about a third of Bicycle Beano guests want to do a bit more than the average 35 to 40 miles a day, so we provide detours off the main route to accommodate them. On most of the beanos you can choose to do 50 to 60 miles a day. Even if there is not an official Beano detour, we can suggest one.
8: What happens if I have a mechanical problem on the ride?
We have one or two helpers who cycle along at the back of the group and will be on-hand to help if anyone has a mechanical problem.
9: What sort of bikes do people ride?
Most people bring road touring bikes, hybrids, folding bikes, or mountain bikes fitted with road tyres. Occasionally people bring tandems or recumbants – we've even had a unicyclist. All our routes are on tarred roads (apart from a few short sections of easy-going off-road). Your bike needs to be suitable for on-road riding. Bike rental is not available.
10: What do I wear?
It's usually warm enough to ride in shorts and t-shirts, May to September. Cycling shorts with a padded insert are more comfortable than ordinary shorts. Wear layers so you can peel them off when necessary. Carry a fleece, and a lightweight waterproof (preferably breathable). Lightweight long stretchy trousers are useful. Shoes should have a hard sole, but ordinary trainers (sneakers) will do. Cycling mits with padded palms keep your hands comfortable. Do not cycle in jeans – they have uncomfortable seams and are inflexible. Other suggestions are a hat with a small peak and sunglasses. Helmet wearing is not a legal requirement in the UK – it is your choice whether you wear one or not.
Top (Photo: Bikes in sheep's clothing)
11: What will the weather be like?
Average weather in spring and summer in Wales and England is temperate, not too hot, not too cold – mostly benign and ideal for cycling.
Here is an example. In 2002 we ran 3 week-long cycling holidays and 4 weekends. During those holidays we had 2 mornings (on different holidays) when it rained softly for a couple of hours, one day when it rained intermittently, and one afternoon when it was very misty. The rest of the time it was dry, with a mixture of sun and cloud. By the way, it was warm enough for us to swim in the sea.
And remember, as Shakespeare once said...
There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
12: I am not a vegetarian – will I like the food?
Yes. The food is so delicious, you won't even notice the lack of meat. It is home-made, freshly-cooked, and often uses organic vegetables and fruit from the venue's own garden (see a typical menu below). Lots of meat-eaters return to Bicycle Beano Cycling Holidays again and again because they like the food. Even though all the food served at our venues is exclusively vegetarian, we don't ostracise carnivores! A choice of meat and veggie meals are available at the lunch stops.
13: I am a vegetarian
All the breakfasts, afternoon teas, and dinners provided by our venues are vegetarian. Vegetarian food is also available from the lunch stops on our routes.
14: Can you provide vegan food?
Our venues are happy to provide vegan food as long as they are given 2 weeks notice (to allow time to obtain some items in more remote areas).
15: What is a typical menu?
All the meals provided by our venues are vegetarian. They are home-made and freshly-cooked, using organic fruit and vegetables whenever possible. All the venues have their own organic vegetable gardens.
Breakfasts are self-service veggie buffets of cereals, muesli, yoghurt, fresh fruit, toast, spreads and jams etc. A range of drinks are available including fruit juices, herb teas, ordinary and decaffeinated tea and coffee. At some venues we have free-range eggs etc.
Vegetarian evening meals are lip-smackingly designed to satisfy cyclists' appetites – delicious, nutritious, and plenty of it. Main meals can be anything from Greek moussaka, roasted vegetables, Chinese stir-fry and noodles, Hungarian goulash, to hazelnut roast with all the trimmings. Puddings include fresh fruit crumble and custard, home-made fresh fruit trifle, bread and butter pudding, and chocolate roulade with cream. Yummy!!
16: Can you take people with disabilities?
Yes, as long as you can cycle you will enjoy a beano. Wheelchair access is available on the Ellesmere Beano. Please contact us to discuss practicalities.
17: Where are the prices for the tours?
The prices appear at the end of each tour description page, which can be reached from the cycling tours page.
A simple text-only programme of our holidays is available to download.
and please bookmark and share