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Pedaling into Spring: A Quick Guide to Cycling Events Throughout the UK

As the days lengthen, many of us cycling enthusiasts are eagerly dust off our bikes and preparing for the start of another exciting cycling season. Cycling, both as a sport and a pastime, has seen a remarkable surge in popularity, particularly since the challenges of 2020 reshaped our recreational habits. From leisurely rides through picturesque countryside to adrenaline-fueled races, the allure of two wheels has never been stronger.

But even before the pandemic, the UK has been lucky to witness a remarkable transformation in the cycling landscape. Then 2020 arrived, with its restrictions on indoor activities and a renewed emphasis on health and outdoor pursuits, more people than ever have turned to cycling as a means of staying active, exploring their surroundings, and connecting with nature. This surge in interest has been reflected in the proliferation of cycling events and races across the UK, catering to cyclists of all ages and abilities.

As we gear up for the 2024 cycling season, we take a closer look at some of the most anticipated events and races scheduled to take place throughout this year. Scroll down a bit further for dates and locations.

Sportive or Audax - What's the Difference?

The word 'sportive' is derived from the French word 'cyclosportive' which translates as cycling event. In basic terms, a sportive is more organised than an audax - with signs, planned routes and marshalls along the way, promotional merch and timed departures and finishes. You'll need to check the route, distance and how much climbing is involved if you're looking to take part in one. And don't forget less obvious questions too, such as the number of food/hydation points there will be, is there mechanical support or a sweep vehicle for this that have to pull out mid-race? Another point to note is that some sportives are expensive to take part in.

An audax is a largely unmarked route, and generally you need to be more self sufficient. They're cheaper, as they are unsupported - but this means you can cycle an audax on a day or time that suits you. Unlike a sportive, it's not signposted and riders are free to choose their own route from start to finish although there is often a recommended route with informal food/hydration points. An audax can be more social, as you might get to choose to do this with friends, and it's not a race - your timing doesn't matter and as long as you finish under the maximum time limit then you've completed the route. The maximum time limit is usually calculated from an average speed of about 8-10mph. Many cyclists view the audax as more of a pleasant trundle around the countryside at a fraction of the cost of a sportive. There's usually a couple of information stops such as numbers from a road sign or a receipt from a cafe to prove that you've completed that route.

If you'd like to know when and where Sportives and Audaxes are taking place this year, here's a list of dates and locations:

Sunday April 21st - Suffolk Spring Classic – Newmarket.
Visiting the three counties of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex the routes navigate around the towns of Haverhill, Saffron Walden and Sudbury thus avoiding areas of congestion, allowing you to enjoy the free-flowing traffic-free roads. There’s four races to choose from, including an under-12’s family ride.

Saturday 27th April – Questars Summer Adventure Race 2 – Fordinbridge (New Forest).
Summer Adventure Races involve trail running, mountain biking and kayaking. Bike hire is available so all you need to take part is a pair of running shoes and a sense of adventure. With 20 races to choose from, there is something for everyone here.

Saturday 27th April – Box Hill Steeplechase – Box Hill, Surrey.
The Pearson Steeplechase is an exciting new event for both road and gravel riders alike. Choose between a 100km road route or a 60km gravel route, both starting and finishing in the beautiful surroundings of Box Hill in Surrey.

Friday 3rd May - Sunday 5th May: Muck n Mac Fest, Scotland.
Nestled in the heart of the Tweed Valley, Traquair just so happens to be the gateway to some of the finest gravel riding + MTB the country has to offer. Choice of 3 races, plus many other activities over the festival weekend.

Saturday 11th May – UKCE Surrey Hills Classic – Cranleigh, Surrey.
The Short route at just over 50km and 500m of vertical ascent will give even the newest rider the opportunity to experience the Surrey Hills in all their glory. Regardless of the route you choose, you’ll weave and wind through an amazing variety of countryside, from the rolling chalk downs and flower-rich grasslands to the heaths and woodlands. Choice of four races, including an under 12’s race which is free to enter.

Sunday 12th May – Beast to the East Sportive – Southampton, Hampshire.
With a choice of four races, all routes start from Swanmore and head out towards Hampton Hill, Beacon Hill and Old Winchester Hill, where you can enjoy amazing views across the beautiful rolling countryside.

Saturday 18th May – Towcester Mill Brewery Sportive – Towcester, Northamptonshire.
The Towcester Mill Brewery Sportive is a fantastic adventure through the Northamptonshire countryside, from one of the best breweries in the Midlands, taking you along the most scenic routes. With two distances of Half Pint 62km, and Full Pint 96km, this sportive is for everyone.

Sunday 19th May – Struggle Dales – Harrogate, Yorkshire.
Struggle Dales is one of the UK's hardest sportives, set in the beautiful but brutal Yorkshire Dales landscape. Struggle Dales Yorkshire sportive isn't one to be taken lightly, but with prior training, grit and guts it's achievable for almost any ambitious road cyclists.

Sunday 19th May – UKCE Jurassic Classic – Wareham, Dorset.
Anyone who has ridden the Jurassic Classic with us before, previously known as the Jurassic Beast, will know that there are a few punchy climbs on this event. This year the three routes on offer, Long, Middle and Short, are certainly no exception to that rule. Four races to choose from, including a free under 12’s race.

Sunday 2nd June – Hook Norton Brewery Sportive – Banbury, Oxfordshire.
The Hook Norton Brewery Sportive is a fantastic adventure through the Oxfordshire countryside, from one of the best breweries in the Cotswolds - the Hook Norton Brewery - taking you along the most scenic routes. With two distances of Half Pint 65km (40 miles), and Full Pint 100 km (62 miles), this sportive is for everyone.

Saturday 8th June – Questars Summer Adventure Race Series (Race 3) – Stockport.
The Questars Summer Series continues in the Peak District with the option for a one-day race or a two-day stage race. Expect glorious trails and hill aplenty, with a choice of 20 races.

Sunday 9th June – Chiltern Valley Winery and Brewery Sportive – Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire.
Just north of Henley on Thames the routes take you through a number of stunning villages where the likes of the iconic tv series the 'Vicar of Dibley' and 'Midsummer Murders' were filmed. This Sportive has two distances of 35 miles (56km) and 57 miles (92km) to accommodate all abilities.

Sunday 16th June – The Pack and Wolf Cub Challenges – Guildford, Surrey.
Brace yourself for an invigorating family-friendly adventure - The Pack and Wolf Cub Challenges! These are part of a groundbreaking adventure race series crafted specifically to offer an engaging day out for families. The Pack Challenge, a 20km event tests your navigation skills, while the Wolf Cub Challenge, an 8km event, is ideal for family members of all ages.

Sunday 16th June – Goddards Brewery Sportive – Sandown, Isle of Wight.
The Goddards Brewery Sportive is a fantastic adventure on the majestic Isle of Wight from one of the best breweries in the South East of England taking you along the most scenic routes on the island. Two distances of 77km (48 miles) and 98km (61 miles) this sportive is for everyone.

Sunday 23rd June – Dragon Ride – Port Talbot, West Glamorgan.
The Dragon Ride is one of the oldest and most iconic sportives in the UK, renowned as being the toughest and most legendary in the British Isles. It will, once again, be returning to Margam Park for what will be a special 20th edition in 2024 with lots of exciting surprises planned!

Saturday 6th July – Questars Summer Adventure Race Series (Race 4) – Cheddar, England.
The Questars Summer Series continues in the Mendips. Expect hills to test the legs and beautiful views aplenty, this is a fantastic part of the country to race in! The Summer Adventure Races involve trail running, mountain biking and kayaking and bike hire is available.

Saturday 13th July – Mendips Classic – Street, Somerset.
The Mendips Classic sportive takes on roads that UK Cycling Events have been taking on for years and includes some old favourites from the area. With the variety of routes on offer, you can challenge yourself with some tough climbs on the longer routes or opt for the slightly shorter and flatter routes.

Sunday 14th July – Tour of Silchester – Yateley, Hampshire.
The 30 and 50 mile routes takes riders West, skirting the Berkshire border as it winds through a network of rolling, peaceful country roads out to Silchester before heading for home.

Sunday 18th August – Tour De Mon – Holyhead, Isle of Anglesey.
From clubs to families and charity riders this is a friendly ride with riders of all ages and abilities coming together to take on the challenge. You’ll have 46, 77 and 107 mile races to choose from.

Sunday 25th August – Brewdog Ride Out Sportive – Ellon, Aberdeenshire.
The Brewdog Ride Out Sportive is a cycle along the North East coast of Scotland and surrounds from one of the biggest breweries in the world. There are two distances of 55km (34miles) and 97km (60 miles) to choose from.

Saturday 31st August – UKCE Cotswold Classic – Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire.
The Cotswolds Classic is part of the Classic Series of cycling events that have been designed with all riders in mind. With three routes to choose from and nothing too technical, these events are great for anyone who is just getting into cycling, for those who are veterans of the sport, or for those of us who simply love to cycle.

Sunday 1st September – Tour of the Candovers – Hook, Hampshire.
Set up by Odiham Cycle Club to encourage members of the Hampshire & surrounding areas cycle community come together and enjoy the fantastic cycling routes on our doorstep. With routes of 20, 40 and 60 miles, The Tour of the Candovers has something for everyone as well as the friendly and social atmosphere of a local bike ride.

Sunday 1st September – WYE Valley Brewery Sportive – Bromyard, Herefordshire.
This late season sportive, set in the beautiful rolling Herefordshire countryside between the Malverns and the Wye Valley, is a fantastic adventure from one of the best breweries in the West Midlands. There’s two scenic routes to choose from - 60km (37 miles) and 85 km (53 miles).

Saturday 7th – Sunday 15th September – Ride Across Britain – Penzance, Cornwall.
Looking for the challenge of a lifetime? The Ride Across Britain covers 980 miles of the most beautiful and scenic landscape accessible on two wheels. Starting at Land’s End, you will join hundreds of other cyclists as you all push yourselves to the limit to reach John O’Groats in nine days.

Saturday 14th September – Purity Brewing Co Sportive – Alcester, Warwickshire.
The Purity Brewing Co Sportive winds its ways around the beautiful Warwickshire countryside and passes through lovely local villages. With two distances of Half Pint 55km, and Full Pint 85km.

Saturday 14th September - Questars Summer Adventure Race Series (Race 5) – Stroud, Cotswolds.
The Questars 2024 Summer Series culminates with a Cotswolds event, a fantastic part of the country to race in.

Saturday 21st September – UKCE New Forest Tour – Southampton, Hampshire.
All four routes start at Gang Warily recreation ground in the Southeast corner of the Forest and head immediately south to the coast at Lepe. You'll be able to see out to the Isle of Wight before turning back into the heart of the New Forest.

Saturday 28th September – UKCE Peaks Tour – Bakewell, Derbyshire.
In true Peak District fashion, there is plenty of both short, savage as well as long, enduring climbs on all the routes. Don’t be discouraged, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views at the top and long winding descents on the way down.

Sunday 27th October – UKCE Kent Classic – Lingfield, Surrey.
The Kent Classic - the final Classic series event of 2024 - starts and finishes at Lingfield Park Racecourse. The routes initially take you down and along the county border of East Sussex and Kent, before navigating around Hever Castle.