Bristol-Bath cycle path

“Ha, your bikes are smaller than mine,” chuckled G as J and I retrieved our Bromptons from the lockers outside Bristol Temple Meads Station.

Two Brompton bikes and a child's Islabike lean against a wall on the Bristol-Bath cycle path.

He had a point. At five years old he was riding a bike with 20-inch wheels; his parents’ rented folders had 16-inch wheels. He clearly thought we were a bit mad to try and ride these bikes to Bath. We wondered that too.

We’d ridden hire Bromptons before, trying out the system by renting a couple in Birmingham and going on a tour of the canal paths. Now we were putting them to a bigger test: nearly 25km along the traffic-free route to Bath.

The folders enabled us to travel to Bristol unencumbered by adult bikes – we just needed to bring G’s little Islabike. Then, the plan was, we would simply use our booking codes to get the Bromptons from their lockers, pedal to Bath and catch the train back to Bristol. It sounded simple enough. But would it work?

Not surprisingly, since it follows a former railway line, the Bristol-Bath cycle route is pretty flat. Bromptons and Islabike alike coped pretty easily with any gentle inclines. G coped well with 25km distance, thanks to frequent snack stops. But we found the Bromptons unforgiving on our bodies and missed the handling of full-sized bikes.

Yes, we were glad we came – the trip was an adventure, pushing both our cycling horizons as a family and the distance G could ride in a day. We were pleased to have completed our challenge. Yet, as we stood on the platform at Bath Station waiting for our train, we were also pleased our next ride would be on full-size bikes.