9 epic rides to put on your bike-it bucket list for 2019
Planning your cycling goals for 2019? Want to stick a belter on your list? From taking on the Tour de France to climbing Ventoux, Jessica Strange rounds up the seriously amazing rides you need in your 2019 calendar…
It’s that time of year where you’re dreaming of warmer days, longing for big biking adventures and planning your cycling goals for 2019. Whether you want to really test yourself, tick off an icon or rally a crew to take on something epic together, we’ve rounded up a selection of rides to get your training programme tingling and your Facebook Groups all fired up. Here’s to making 2019 your most memorable year on the bike yet!
Ring Road, Iceland
What: Let’s start with one of the more out-there and epic rides on our bike-it list: Iceland. You can cycle the full 828-mile ring round around the island, taking in all the stunning natural wonders – such as glaciers, geysers, volcanoes and huge waterfalls – as you go. Known as the island of fire and ice, there is only one main ring-road in Iceland, and it’s fully paved. Alternatively, if you fancy more of a gravel adventure, you can head inland, where the terrain across luna landscapes can be quite a challenge.
Why: Iceland has become quite popular for cyclists in recent years, gaining a great deal of coverage in the media and Hollywood. It’s incredibly beautiful, and you can take the route entirely at your own pace.
How: As with any unguided and unsupported ride, planning is essential. Be sure to map out your stopping points and accommodation and be prepared for the weather. Being a small island in the north of the Atlantic, weather can be fierce, which is why it’s best to head out in the European summertime. And don’t forget your waterproofs, as showers and quick-changing forecasts are expected.
Ride the Tour de France with Le Loop
What: Have you ever wanted to ride all stages of the most famous cycling event in the world? With Le Loop, you can! With this brilliant event, you can choose to ride all or selected stages of the Tour de France one week ahead of the pros. You’ll get to ride the same roads, stay in the same hotels, plus you’ll enjoy professional treatment, such as feed stops, luggage transfers and a team of mechanics, medics and physios on hand.
Why: It’s the Tour de France! Plus, you’ll be fully supported, so all you need to worry about is riding your bike.
How: Just because there are no cut-off times, you still need to be realistic about your ability to ride these stages, especially if you’re not used to the heat. All information about bookings and riding with Le Loop is found on their website.
Tour of Flanders Sportive
What: The Tour of Flanders is back for the 103rd edition in 2019, with non-professional riders of all abilities able to race those infamous, tricky cobble sections the day before the professionals take to the roads. You can choose to ride the full 230km distance, or shorter route options of 174, 139 and 74km. All feature those iconic bone-shaking cobbled highlights.
Why: Cobbles are a sticking point for many cyclists, so what better way to hone your skills than on the Tour of Flanders course. Ride the sportive on Saturday, April 6th, and stay to watch the professionals on Sunday.
How: If you’ve never ridden cobbles before, it’s best to get some practice in beforehand, even if it’s a short section of road. Ensure you keep your body firm and flexible on the bike, maintaining a reasonable pace and keeping your eyes peeled for any missing cobbles. To enter the Tour of Flanders Sportive, sign up via We Ride Flanders.
Mont. Ventoux, France
What: This is possibly one of the most famous road climbs out there, boasting an average gradient of 7.5% and spanning over approximately 21km. You can see Mont Ventoux from almost anywhere in the Vaucluse-Provence, and although it’s technically a part of the Alps, it stands entirely alone from peaks of similar height.
Why: Mont. Ventoux occasionally features on the Tour de France route, making it an instant must-do for testing yourself against the professionals. However, it’s gained worldwide notoriety for another reason, and that was the death of British cyclist, Tom Simpson, who died from exhaustion on the slopes of Ventoux during the Tour de France in 1967. On a more positive vibe, journalist and cycling explorer, Maria David, smashed Mont. Ventoux 15 years ago, as she recalls: “It was like an unofficial sportive - many folks riding and cheering you on... Lovely ride. Highly recommended. I must go back!”
How: There are three routes up Ventoux, with the most popular being the Tour de France option via Bedoin. From here, it’s a 21.5km journey, covering 1,600m of ascent with an average gradient of 7.5%. To add to the intensity, it cheekily spikes at 12% in some sections. On the other side of the mountain, there is the Malaucène route, which is said to be equally difficult. Lastly, there’s the easier option, which starts in Sault, is 26km in length and has a far smoother gradient. Choose to do just one or take on all three. But whatever you decide, rest assured that you’re ticking off one of the cycling greats.
What: Spanning the length of the UK, Lands End to John O’Groats is perhaps one of the most famous long-distance rides a cyclist can do. The route itself is approximately 900 miles in length (depending on which way you go) and will take cyclists anywhere from 9 to 14 days to complete. However, the record for fastest time was set in 2018 by a maths teacher, Michael Broadwith, who finished the route in just under 44-hours. (He obviously didn’t stop for as many Tunnocks tea cakes as we did.)
Why: The LEJOG route is cycled by thousands each year, with many setting out to raise funds and awareness for charity, and others simply wishing to tick it off their bike-it list. One of the most appealing things about LEJOG is that there is no set route, leaving the rider to explore as much of the UK as they wish.
How: Starting at Land’s End, LEJOG is commonly ridden from bottom to top, ending at John O’Groats. Because there is no set route, planning is essential, along with some long-distance training. However, if you would rather take away the stress of planning and hauling your luggage around with you, then you can sign up for the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, the biggest LEJOG mass participation event, which takes place annually in September.
Dulux London Revolution
What: The London Revolution is a massive annual 2-day event, where over 2,500 riders flock to the capital city to take part in a mass road ride. The fully-supported route is a 300km loop through London and surrounding areas and includes leg-busting climbs of the North Downs and a tour around Windsor Great Park. You’ll then loop back via the Chiltern Hills and ancient Epping Forest. Entrants have the option to stay overnight at Windsor Racecourse, where organisers provide tents, hot showers and secure bike housing. Unless, of course, you’re a total beast and you fancy completing the full route in one day?
Why: The London Revolution has a sterling reputation for being a fun and social mass event. With energetic cycling vibes, the route is steeped in British culture as you cycle along some of the most iconic roads that England has to offer.
How: London Revolution takes place on the 11th/12th May, with tickets available now. There are a few packages available depending on how you want to cycle it: all in one day, over two days, or specific sections of the course. All event information and tickets are available on the Dulux London Revolution website.
Man of Kent Audax Ride
What: An Audax is a voluntary long-distance ride that typically covers distances anywhere from 100km to over 500km. Because they are self-supported and usually pretty long, they are often considered one of the most challenging disciplines of road cycling out there. In 2019, the Man of Kent audax is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a 203km loop that starts and finishes in Golden Green, Tonbridge. Setting off at 08:00, all riders have 13h 30m to complete the course and must check in at all four control stations on the way – Faversham, Wingham, New Romney and Headcorn.
Why: Audax events are challenging but extremely fun, and because the Man of Kent is celebrating its 10th anniversary, we expect a great turn out. Plus you get to take in the sights of the Garden of England by bike.
How: With 13hr 30m to complete the 200km route, this is another one where you’ll need to get some long-distance training under your belt beforehand. Entry starts at £8 per person, which includes food at both the start and finish. For more information and to sign-up, head over to the event page here.
What: The original L’Eroica cycling event was launched in Italy in 1997 by a passionate cyclist, Giancarlo Brocci, who wanted to reconnect the people with the spirit of cycling. Since its inception, L’Eroica has inspired many spin-off events, such as the Eroica Britannia. What makes this event even more attractive is the bicycle race itself, where the main requirement is that your bike has to have been built before 1987. Many cyclists decide to go the whole-hog, kitting themselves out in wool jerseys, traditional attire and, of course, toe-strap pedals. There are three distances to choose from for the main cycling event, while the rest of the event/festival boasts discussions, music, games and gin.
Why: It’s a family-friendly cycling festival with so much going on over the weekend that cyclists and non-cyclists alike will have a great time.
How: All information about the 2019 instalment of the Eroica Britannia will be published on the official website, so check back regularly for updates because these tickets sell like hot cakes!
Red Bull Timelaps
What: The Red Bull Timelaps is a unique 25-hour team race where four-person teams lap a short 2 to 3km circuit as many times as possible within the 25-hour timeframe to win. Crazy!
Why: There’s no better reason for getting the gang together than to ride the transition of summer to winter.
How: Training for an event like this will require riding, of course, but also some team tactics, so it’s well worth working out a winning schedule that plays to each other’s strengths. All information for the 2019 Red Bull Timelaps will be posted online, so keep your eye out for details and be ready to sign up when registration opens.
There you have it. Make 2019 your best year on the bike and tick off some iconic rides on your bike-it list this year.
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