Five of our favourite UK cycling challenges
We’ve enjoyed some amazing cycling challenges in the UK during 2023 and they are becoming increasingly popular with cyclists across the nation as they look to get fit and enjoy themselves while doing it.
Given the range of disciplines out there, there really is a test for anybody which is why we’re going to be taking a look at a selection of our favourite cycling challenges in the UK today. We’ll be explaining why they’re so fantastic and how you can get involved during the 2023/2024 seasons.
A Welsh cycling challenge – the Wales Sportive
Taking place in the summer of each season, the Wales Sportive is the only race of its kind to be televised in the UK. A tough route sees the riders set off along the undulating south-Wales coastline over the course of three different routes, the longest and most popular of which takes in over 180 kilometres of wonderful Welsh roads.
One of the main draws of the Wales Sportive is that it takes place on closed roads, a rarity for many similar cycling challenges in other parts of the country. This makes it one of the safest events to undertake as a relative beginner – and a great one for veterans who like to push their boundaries or are looking for something that little bit extra.
The off-road option – Cotswold Cross
If off-roading is your thing, there are no shortage of mud-filled cycling challenges taking place in the UK. One of the best however, is the famous Cotswold Cross race that is set to take place once more in March 2024.
Setting off from the town of Cheltenham, riders do battle with a 75 kilometre long course that sees them face gravel trails, boggy farm tracks, uneven bridleways and a hefty1,500 metres worth of elevation gain. With over half the route taking place off-road, you certainly won’t end the day with a clean body or bike.
Competitors are permitted to use cyclocross, MTB and gravel bikes in the race, making it a brilliant way for fans of each discipline to ride together (or face off) in the Cotswolds.
The iconic UK cycling challenge – London – Brighton Charity Bike Ride
One of the oldest and most famous UK cycling challenges is the London to Brighton route that was first ridden in 1869 by a man named John Mayall using a rudimentary velocipede bicycle. At this point in time the 87 kilometre trail took over 12 hours to complete, however these days it can be managed easily by riders of most fitness levels in about four.
While this is a challenge that can be undertaken at any time, the best way to experience and train for it is to enter one of the supported charity events that runs each year. Traditionally taking place in the UK summer, these mass participation events typically attract thousands of entrants. The route itself isn’t too difficult, however the famous Ditchling Beacon climb presents a stern test to each competitor with its testing 9% average gradient.
The ‘something completely different’ choice – British Cycle Quest
While many UK cycling challenges have a predetermined route or date on which they occur, the British Cycle Quest is something quite different. Designed as something anyone can take part in regardless of their ability or fitness level, it was established by the good folks over at Cycling UK and is based around locating checkpoints across the UK and logging your discoveries on a mobile phone app.
When you decide to try and find some checkpoints is up to you, however riders are rewarded with cycling UK challenge ride certificates for reaching certain milestones in their hunt for them. In total there are more than 400 sites to find scattered across the country; locate them all and you will be rewarded with an engraved medal to cherish forever.
The British Cycle Quest is perhaps the most unique and enjoyably laidback events on our selection, and is sure to have you scouring the map for your next great adventure.
The stay-at-home cycling challenge – virtual cycling challenges
In this day and age, it isn’t always easy to find the time to get outside and take on a wild cycling challenge. Thankfully, the rise of online applications such as Zwift allow for you to create your own virtual cycling challenge from the comfort of your own home.
One of the most popular virtual cycling challenges is known colloquially as ‘Everesting’. This incredibly challenging mission will pit you up against the various climbs of the virtual Zwift realm until you rack up enough elevation gain to equate to the height of Mount Everest - the highest peak on Earth. For reference, this means you’ll need to climb 8,850 metres in order to successfully complete the challenge and earn bragging rights over your friends.
The beauty of Everesting is that you don’t have to do it all in one go (that would be a truly remarkable feat, however). There are also plenty of other virtual challenges you can get stuck into, some with physical rewards such as jerseys and medals.
Whether you decide to do battle with the coastal roads of Wales, muddy farm tracks in the Cotswolds or simply your indoor trainer, make sure you choose the right Lapierre bike for the job. Browse the full range online or visit your nearest Lapierre dealer to take the first step in your journey towards completing a cycling challenge in the UK.