Probably the best bit of advice I could give anyone who is competing in the BCQ is to enjoy it!
The BCQ is deliberately organised in such a way that it’s not a race, does not have a specific route, and has no time limits. This means that you are free to start the quest at anytime you like, you only need to visit the checkpoints you want, when you want, and how you want (so long as it’s by bicycle).
Bearing this in mind I would strongly advise against trying to visit too many checkpoints in one day – in the early days of my Questing I fell in to the trap of planning rides to get in as many checkpoints per day as possible, this led me to riding around with the sole aim of getting from one point to the next without stopping to explore the places of interest that the Quest will eventually lead you to. I would suggest that around three checkpoints per day as a maximum would give ample exploring time. Of course there are smaller counties or regions where the points are all very close so four or even five may be possible on a long summers day. If you want to see what an over crammed day looks like read my account of Greater London here.
Planning – the first few rides I did were local to home and I essentially ‘winged it’ a bit as I knew roughly how to get to the checkpoints, but once you start to go a little further afield there’s no substitute for planning your route. If you’re a map user and collector then the O.S. map for the region you’re travelling in will be invaluable. If you prefer to go for the technological route (as I have), an O.S. online maps subscription and a Garmin GPS unit will get you around with the minimum amount of fuss. Planing your ride will also allow you to see places of interest that aren’t BCQ checkpoints but worth stopping at ‘while you’re passing’.
Equipment – make sure you’re bike is in good running order, and you carry some basic maintenance equipment to deal with things like punctures etc. I would also advocate carrying some lights, a mobile phone along with a spare battery / portable charger and a waterproof bag to keep it all in just in case. If your phone doesn’t have a camera or you want to take better quality pictures then a camera is also a must as the BCQ will take you to plenty of places that you’ll want to photograph. If you want to be fully prepared then a carrier on the bike with a pannier or top trunk to carry it all in.
Clothing – you could be riding a lot of miles in a shortish period of time, having the correct clothing will make it much more comfortable – invest a little in something that is designed for riding in and keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter if you intend to go questing all year round. Helmets are not the law in the UK but I’d recommend one along with some sun-block for the really sunny days. Also a good pair of cycling shoes would make those long days in the saddle a lot more comfortable than trainers.
If you want to see what equipment I use on my questing adventures then check out the ‘equipment’ page here