Every year the UK seems to be more packed with summer cycling events, but even by recent standards 2014 is special.
While Scotland has the Commonwealth Games, the biggest cycling event in England this year is the visit of the Tour de France. The race begins on Saturday July 5 in Leeds, finishing that day in Harrogate. Stage two on July 6 begins in York and finishes in Sheffield. And stage three on Monday July 7 starts in Cambridge, finishing on the Mall in London. Festivities will be happening in cities along the route, and over the entire weekend there will be a Fête du Tour in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
While the Tour is only visiting London this year, one bike festival which calls the capital home is the RideLondon weekend. On Saturday August 9 there will be the London FreeCycle, where the whole family can enjoy an eight-mile traffic-free loop on closed roads through central London. Meanwhile, for more committed riders, the incredible RideLondon-Surrey 100 on Sunday August 10 will see 24,000 amateur cyclists head on a 100-mile route into the Surrey hills. Straight afterwards there’s also the RideLondon-Surrey Classic, when 150 of the world’s top male riders race round the same route.
But it’s not just London — there are superb bike events happening across the country.
– On August 1 and 2 the Staffordshire Cycling Festival will offer a full range of drop-bar biking excitement, from top-level domestic racers contesting the Stafford Grand Prix on the evening of Friday August 1, to two ‘friendly’ sportive routes— 35 or 70 miles — on the morning of Saturday August 2.
– After a year away, cycling returns to Blenheim Palace on August 17. There will be family rides through the Palace’s beautiful grounds, or a choice of 60 or 100-mile Blenheim Palace Sportive routes.
– Finally, if you want a cycling challenge that is tough, but uniquely safe, there is the Etape Cymru. This 88-mile event takes in some of north-east Wales’ most impressive terrain — including the legendary Horseshoe Pass climb — but it’s held on entirely closed roads, so you can enjoy the ride without worry.