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I am planning a biking holiday in U.K. next year and need some advice.

Where is the nearest respectable bike shop to Heathrow? This just in case there is some damage

to my Randonneur. 

Any comments about accommodation in the Heathrow area where I can assemble the bike would be appreciated along with any other local tips.

regards.  Bernie Renwick

31 comments

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BarryBianchi [419 posts] 8 months ago
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Heathrow and the surrounding area is an absolute toilet.  Put your bike together in/near the arrival hall as at least there is CCTV and security there, then ride for at least 30 mins out of the place before you even think of stopping anywhere, and for God's sake be careful or you WILL be mown down by some idiot on his 37th non-stop hour driving a while van/minibus on a licence issued in a place you have never even heard of.  Look on the CTC website for further info about where to stay - it's very good for that.

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CXR94Di2 [2110 posts] 8 months ago
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Why are you coming to a very congested country, when you can cycle around France on virtaully deserted roads.  I live in the countryside and its OK, near towns and cities in the south of England its Bedlam.  Cancel your flight and goto France for cycling.

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barongreenback [122 posts] 8 months ago
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Hi. I would stop at somewhere like the Holiday In. In Slough. There is a bus service from terminal 5 and it’s a much better location to start your travels. There are also plenty of bike shops that you can find on Google. 

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HenHarrier [12 posts] 8 months ago
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Do you have to fly into Heathrow? Just getting out of the one way system on a bike would be enough to make you want to go home. Almost any other airport would be preferable.

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Bernie77 [3 posts] 8 months ago
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thanks for the rapid responses. Further info -  I want to start in Cornwall and I thought that starting in Heathrow and getting a train would be the good option. From your comments though this is not the case. 

Maybe i should try for a connection to Exeter or somewher in the south west, head to Cornwall by train and then start my odyssey.

Thanks

bernie

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freespirit1 [269 posts] 8 months ago
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You could try going to Woking on the Railair link coach that drops you at Woking Station.

It is 150 yards from a Travelodge.

Woking also has direct trains to Exeter it certainly used to be cheaper from Woking to Exeter.

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Grahamd [955 posts] 8 months ago
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Would suggest that a direct flight to Bristol deserves consideration. Plenty of nearby bike shops, a number of comparatively good cycle paths, within easy reach of Cornwall.

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Canyon48 [985 posts] 8 months ago
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Bernie77 wrote:

thanks for the rapid responses. Further info -  I want to start in Cornwall and I thought that starting in Heathrow and getting a train would be the good option. From your comments though this is not the case. 

Maybe i should try for a connection to Exeter or somewher in the south west, head to Cornwall by train and then start my odyssey.

Thanks

bernie

Be VERY careful with the atrocious cycling policies that rail operators have (particularly in the South West).

If you book train tickets online you are meant to be able to reserve a bike space. You need a bike reservation to take a bike on an HST (when you book online it doesn't say if the train is an HST or not - so calling up might work).

I've had so many issues with the GWR cycling policy that I now no longer take my bike on trains - it's a real shame  7

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BarryBianchi [419 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes
Bernie77 wrote:

thanks for the rapid responses. Further info -  I want to start in Cornwall and I thought that starting in Heathrow and getting a train would be the good option. From your comments though this is not the case. 

Maybe i should try for a connection to Exeter or somewher in the south west, head to Cornwall by train and then start my odyssey.

Thanks

bernie

You would be very well advised to get as close to Cornwall as you can first off.  Getting there from London area is going to be 1. A pain in the arse, and 2. Very expensive.

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ConcordeCX [816 posts] 8 months ago
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Heathrow is inded the anus mundi. If you have to fly in there I would advise you not to try and cycle out, but take your bike still boxed onto the Heathrow Express train, which takes you quickly to Paddington Station in London, and from Paddington get the next train to Plymouth. Depending on the time of day, this will cost you from about £80 to £160, which is probably less than you'd pay for a hotel in Heathrow or central London, and you'll have to pay it anyway unless you plan to cycle to Cornwall. Unbox your bike in Plymouth.

There is some wonderful cycling down there.

I think (but you should check to confirm) that if you keep the bike boxed you won't have the hassle of having to book it onto a train, but you can still put it in the baggage carriage.

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Al__S [1288 posts] 8 months ago
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It isn't legal to cycle in or out of the Central terminal area of Heathrow- they have banned all cycling through the tunnel, ripping out the cycleway that used to exist.

 

If your bike is still boxed (a proper travel case? What will you be doing with the box whilst cycling?) I think you'd get away with claiming it as standard luggage on the trains and coaches.

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crazy-legs [1014 posts] 8 months ago
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If you can tell us your onward travel arrangements it'll be easier to advise.

What type of box have you got, is it just a cardboard one that you'll bin or a proper travel case? That'll affect things too.

The best option, seeing as you're already heading west) is to go to somewhere like Reading, stop in a Premier Inn or similar there and then train onwards to Cornwall from that point. There are buses/coaches to all sorts of places from Heathrow, it's well served by National Express and they're pretty reasonable about bikes most of the time, especially if they're boxed.

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Bernie77 [3 posts] 8 months ago
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Hi All again,

My cunning plan is to arrive in Heathrow. This was recommended by a friend who also travelled with a bike in a box and found out on arrival that the flight to Bristol was in fact a bus on his ticket. The bike box was not acceptable on the bus! He had to go to another terminal and book a flight to Bristol but the bike box cost almost as much as his ticket. So, my Plan A is to arrive at Heathrow, taxi to Hillingdon near the Hayes and hillingdon train station, put the bike together, fix any damage, book a ticket (with a bike) to Penzance and then start my ride. My two month ride will start from Lands end and finish somewhere else. I have been in touch with Sustrans and purchased some maps. Its a bit of an odyssey, visiting friends and relations. Sustrans have helped with avoiding busy roads and locating bike paths, bridle tracks etc.

The box will be cardboard and probably disposable.

Note I had assumed that trains will take a fully assembled bike. The GWR website doesnt show how to book a bike unless you telephone the day before to find out what sort of carriages make up the train!

Any comments?

Bernie

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arfa [859 posts] 8 months ago
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Hi Bernie, good luck with your travels and not wanting to put a downer on things, friends have ridden lands end to John o groats and loved every moment of it.
Others have highlighted challenges which I won't repeat.
You do however mention Sustrans and bridleways which rings alarm bells with me. If you are on a road bike and attempting to ride an unsurfaced bridleway, it will be an impassable mud bath in the rain. If you have factored this in, all's well and good and good luck.

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peted76 [1105 posts] 8 months ago
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Bernie, that sounds like a brilliant trip. 

Have you considered the Kings Cross, London to Penzance (Night Riviera Sleeper Train)? Which does take a bike (booked in advance).

You could avoid fyling and Heathrow totally that way, get a Eurostar from France, then hop on the sleeper train to Penzance - wake up, voila!

If you're using the NCN routes for the first time around Britain, be aware they can very massively in quality, a few being farm tracks or across fields. 

Still, as long as you have reasonable sized tyres, you'll have an amazing time exploring some of the best countryside in the world, I am very jelous.

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Capt Caveman [17 posts] 8 months ago
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Did LEJOG a couple of years ago – flew into the UK (Southampton rather than London) with the bike carefully wrapped in a cardboard box, hired a car to drive down to Penzance and ditched the box in a recycling bin. Stopped at a Halfrauds somewhere along the A30 to pick up some bits, so my advice would be forget about stopping at LHR (other than checking the bike is OK), and finding a decent LBS en route.

Have been in & out of a few UK airports now and assuming that, as you’re arriving at LHR, you’re coming long-haul so I'd recommend looking at flying into somewhere like Amsterdam, Paris or Frankfurt and getting a connecting flight to a regional airport in the South West as the difference in air ticket price will probably be less than the saving in travel costs out of London.

I don't ride in the UK that often, but everytime I'm always shocked at the truly dreadful condition the roads are in. As for using Sustrans routes, I rode from Portsmouth ferry port to Oxford this summer which was mostly along the NCN and it was properly shit – totally unrideable even on 38mm gravel tires in places and even barricaded off by building sites at times. Ironically I bailed at Reading and caught the next GWR to Oxford no problems whatsoever without any pre-booking!

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. . [192 posts] 8 months ago
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Can I ask where you are coming from?   It might help us suggest some alternative air routes

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niceguysean [120 posts] 8 months ago
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Ciao Bernie

Did LEJOG some years back with a friend and we flew into Heathrow. We reassembled the bikes in the Arrivals area, and simply put the bike boxes next to a rubbish bin. We then caught the Heathrow Express with the bikes and connected to the overnight train to Penzance.  Woke up the next morning in Penzance and cycled down to Lands End to start. Couldn't have been easier, and I personally would recommend this over a more complicated route with flight connections where your bike will be moved around.

Depending on where you intend to finish I'm certain a local bike shop will be able to fix you up with a bike box for the return journey.

Good luck!

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Al__S [1288 posts] 8 months ago
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Don't go to Hayes & Harlington. If you're wanting to get a GWR trains you can book your bike on if you book online- but you do have to book for a specific service. The services to Cornwall don't stop at Hayes & Harlington, their first stop is Reading, so you might as well take a local train (Heathrow Connect, not Express, unless you're proper minted) to Paddington; unless the RailAir coach services to Reading take bikes or bikes in boxes.

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Grahamd [955 posts] 8 months ago
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Wish you well with your odyssey, I am sure you will receive a plethora of advice of where to cycle; noting your sustrans comments would recommend the Camel trail from Padstow. It is a simple route, buts needs to be as you cannot take your eyes off the scenery.

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Miller [117 posts] 8 months ago
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> unless the RailAir coach services to Reading take bikes or bikes in boxes.

Railair to Reading will take a bike in a box, those buses have a lot of storage underneath. You can get the bus from LHR Central Bus Station if arriving into T2/T3/T4 or direct from T5 if you're on BA and arrive there. There's three buses per hour in daytime and it'll cost under £20 for a single. You get deposited outside Reading railway station. Reading is the first mainline stop for fast trains out of Paddington so a good place to catch a train heading West. Just round the corner from the station, in Friar St, there are some chain hotels if timings dictate an overnight stay in Reading.

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Rod Marton [107 posts] 8 months ago
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Miller wrote:

Just round the corner from the station, in Friar St, there are some chain hotels if timings dictate an overnight stay in Reading.

There's also a bike shop next to the station in Forbury Road. I've never used it, so can't say how good it is, but it's there if you need it.

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Miller [117 posts] 8 months ago
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Rod Marton wrote:

There's also a bike shop next to the station in Forbury Road. I've never used it, so can't say how good it is, but it's there if you need it.

Cycle Republic, the posh arm of Halfords, lol. It's new there. It seems ok in an Evans-ish sort of way.

 

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BudgieBike [20 posts] 8 months ago
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Miller wrote:
Rod Marton wrote:

There's also a bike shop next to the station in Forbury Road. I've never used it, so can't say how good it is, but it's there if you need it.

Cycle Republic, the posh arm of Halfords, lol. It's new there. It seems ok in an Evans-ish sort of way.

 

There is also an Evans in Reading

Agree with most here. Rail air to said town, train down or National Expess coach. Free bus to park and ride where it starts. About £40 coach fare. 

 

 

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LastBoyScout [448 posts] 8 months ago
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Heathrow Terminal 5 is a nightmare with a bike. First time I flew through there was with a bike in a proper bike bag. None of the lift doors are wide enough to take a trolley with a bike bag across it, so you have to summon lift, take bike bag off trolley, put bike bag in lift, then trolley then at the next floor, take trolley out, then bike bag and put back on trolley. Ridiculous. I also had another bag, hence the need for the trolley.

Stuttgart airport with a doddle in comparison - just a bit of a walk to drop bike off once checked in.

Don't bother going to Evans for a bike box on the way home - all the bikes are delivered to store pre-built. Might be worth phoning ahead and asking a local bike shop to hold onto a box for you - otherwise, you might be stuck if the recycling has taken them before you get there.

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BarryBianchi [419 posts] 8 months ago
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BudgieBike wrote:

 

There is also an Evans in Reading

Agree with most here. Rail air to said town, train down or National Expess coach. Free bus to park and ride where it starts. About £40 coach fare.

More important.y, there is a Decathlon about 10 mins from Reading station.

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LastBoyScout [448 posts] 8 months ago
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Miller wrote:

Cycle Republic, the posh arm of Halfords, lol. It's new there. It seems ok in an Evans-ish sort of way.

Never knew that - will have a look next time I'm in town.

Also AW cycles is only a short ride from the town centre.

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Bernie77 [3 posts] 8 months ago
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Thanks all,

the advice/ suggestions have certainly given me something to consider and rethink my cunning plan.

plan B is looking like bus to Reading from Heathrow. Assemble bike (fix as required) train to Penzance and start pedalling.

FYI. I am flying from Perth Western Australia via Doha with Qatar. I have no set route other than Taunton, Bristol, Worcester, Nottingham, Bradford, East Kilbride and Glasgow to visit friends and rellies. Total estimated time two months starting in May next year.

thanks again for all your comments, concerns and suggestions.

Bernie

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kil0ran [917 posts] 8 months ago
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Bernie77 wrote:

Thanks all,

the advice/ suggestions have certainly given me something to consider and rethink my cunning plan.

plan B is looking like bus to Reading from Heathrow. Assemble bike (fix as required) train to Penzance and start pedalling.

FYI. I am flying from Perth Western Australia via Doha with Qatar. I have no set route other than Taunton, Bristol, Worcester, Nottingham, Bradford, East Kilbride and Glasgow to visit friends and rellies. Total estimated time two months starting in May next year.

thanks again for all your comments, concerns and suggestions.

Bernie

That makes a lot of sense. As others have said there's a big Decathlon about 5 minutes walk from the station. I can also highly recommend Sweeney's for a meat pie/decent pint if there's a bit of a wait for your train. Decathlon have in-store mechanics who are usually among the best of the big retailers. Best avoid Halfords. There's also an Evans Cycles about 10 mins from the station who are pretty good.

Weather should be perfect for cycling in May. Make sure you've got a good lock. When I lived in Reading 10 years ago I had three bikes stolen in just over a year.

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Tiredlegs [1 post] 2 months ago
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Hi Bernie.  This might be a bit late for you but I'm too going to travel from Australia to ride LEJOG, but in June/July.  I came across your post as I was also looking for ways to escape Heathrow with a bike in a carton.  In the end I've resolved to book a taxi to take me to Windsor or Slough, where I'll stay a couple of nights to recuperate from the flight & get into the time zone  (I'm then going to ride a circuitous route to Swindon or Bath to get the train to Penzance).  Quotes have been in the £30 to £35 range, which is more than the bus of course but avoids the hassles of finding the bus stop and loading/unloading the bike, especially if the destination bus stop is some distance from where you want to park yourself for the night.  My two cents for what it's worth.

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