Be part of the Challenge Ride Series 2018 | Cycling UK

Be part of the Challenge Ride Series 2018

Riders and friends on the Gridiron 100 organised by Wessex Cycling in the beautiful New Forest. Photo: Graham Brodie
Riders on the Gridiron 100 organised by Wessex Cycling in the beautiful New Forest
Riders on the Gridiron 100 organised by Wessex Cycling in the beautiful New Forest

Be part of the Challenge Ride Series 2018

Are you up for a challenge and a wonderful day out on your bike? The Challenge Ride Series 2018 is brought to you by Cycling UK Member Groups and is a fantastic way to explore the British countryside in like-minded company.

The 2018 series will start on Sunday 25 March with Stevenage Cycling's Start of Summertime event, as well as Two Mills CTC's Early Season Challenge Ride in Chester, and finish on Sunday 28 October with Stevenage's famous celebration of the end of summertime, Emitremmus Desrever.

In between those dates, there is a selection of longer distance and challenging rides up and down the UK. Run by our wonderful Member Group volunteers, they provide the chance to explore stunning scenery in like-minded company for a very reasonable price, with plenty of chances for tea and cake thrown in of course!. 

Rides in the series are:

Sunday 25 March - Start of Summertime Specials, Stevenage Cycling 

Celebrate more daylight hours for riding – yay! – with a fantastic route in the stunning Hertfordshire countryside.

Four rides to choose from to mark the long-awaited start of British Summer Time: 100 mile, 100 km, 200 km,  and 62 km. New this year - refreshment stop at Braughing Church Hall and a 20 km Stevenage cycleway ride available throughout the day.

All rides start at Fairlands Valley Park and take in the beautiful countryside of Hertfordshire, Essex and Suffolk, visiting sites made famous by some of our greatest artists, including Thaxted, Finchingfield, Lavenham and Braughing.

Sunday 25 March - Early Season 50-mile/50 km Challenge Ride, Two Mills (The Wirral)  Now fully booked  

This popular early season event challenges you to cycle the 50-mile course and eat what is a generous lunch in a total of four or five hours. For those that would like a more sociable pace, there is also a shorter 50 km route. Starting near Chester, the route gives you the opportunity of exploring the wonderful Cheshire and Welsh border lanes. The course follows a figure of eight, looping out to Kinnerton in one direction and Overton in the other.     

Sunday 8 April - Devon Dirt 65 km Off-Road, Devon CTC New for 2018!

The Devon Dirt is an annual event, with a mixture of off-road tracks and country lanes. It is a non-competitive challenge and is just over 60 km long, involving 1570m of climbing. The first loop of 17 miles takes you to the south of Ashburton with the second loop going via Bovey Tracey to Manaton and returning back through Haytor Vale. A good moorland challenge with some big climbs!   

Sunday 13 May - Grand National 200 km and Between the Parks 100 km, Southampton CTC

You have a choice of two events. 'Between the Parks' is a 100 km cycling event starting near Romsey, Hampshire and taking you out on a lovely ride on quiet lanes into the Test Valley between the South Downs and New Forest National Parks. For the more adventurous, 'Grand National Park2Park' is a 200 km event from the same start point exploring the Test and Itchen Valleys, as well as the two National Parks.    

Sunday 10 June - Ayrshire Explorer 100 km Challenge Ride, Cycle Ayrshire

Starting at sea-level, the Ayrshire Explorer climbs inland then rolls southwards through beautiful rural countryside, passing through farm land to the tiny village of Stair and onwards through several small villages originally established to support the now defunct mining and weaving industries.

The route turns west at Dalmellington for the climb over the high point of the route (Lambdoughty Hill)  to its most southerly point in Straiton, one of the most beautiful villages in Scotland, before heading back north via more 'ex-mining' villages.

The route has just over 3000ft. of ascent.

With a generous 8 hour time-limit you can decide whether it's a day to be amongst the fast folk or an opportunity to complete your own personal challenge.

Please note that this is a non-competitive ride therefore it is up to the rider to time themselves if they so wish. 

Sunday 17 June - Bob Clift Memorial Cheshire  50 and 100 mile Cycleway Rides 2018, Chester and North Wales CTC New for 2018!

The Bob Clift Memorial Rides have their roots back in 1986. There are two options: one a leisurely ride over 50 miles and a longer 100 miles ride, both of which take you though the beautiful Cheshire countryside. Both routes start and finish at Waverton. Cheshire is full of special landmarks and points of interest. The 100-mile starts in Old Waverton, with its classic Cheshire sandstone church - a landmark on your return. Heading onto the Sandstone ridge, you pass through Delamere Forest before views from Comberbache over to Budworth Mere. Cheshire has many meres (lakes) formed in the Ice Age, but also some from subsidence due to the salt mines, still active, far below the surface. As you climb 'The Old Wizard' hill at Alderley Edge, one of the UK's most affluent areas, you reach the wizard pub - there is a legend about a wizard here! - for a truly thrilling day out in spectacular scenery. 

Sunday 24 June - 110 km and 200 km Windmill Rides, Essex CTC New for 2018!

The 110km route is a leisurely ride in the Essex countryside with controls at Finchingfield and Ugley. The longer 210 km route is very scenic with a few ups and downs taking you through both Essex and Suffolk passing 10 windmills. Controls at Finchingfield, Belchamp St Paul and Ugley. Both rides start at Chelmer Cycling Club in Chelmsford. Strawberries and cream and ice cream (weather permitting) and free refreshments at 3/4 of 200km ride and 2/3 of 110km  

Sunday 8 July - Lake District 100 mile and 100 km Challenge, Eden Valley CTC  New for 2018!

The Lake District Challenge Rides will be amazing if challenging, passing through wonderful scenery. These rides are not for the faint-hearted so you will need to be prepared. Pace yourself and enjoy a few cafe stops along the way. The route card will point some out as you go! When you get back, the organisers will do their best to provide a nutritious feed before sending you on your way. You can participate individually or as a group of friends, or alternatively there will be a limited number of Eden Valley Guides who will lead you around the course but obviously you should choose an appropriate speed and try to stick with that group. There is a choice of a 100 mile ride (>3000m of ascent) of 100 km route with 1500m of ascent. 

Sunday 15 July - 25th Devon Delight 100 km, Devon CTC 

The Devon Delight takes in the rolling Devon hills, with  a fairly flat coastal section in the middle, and a generous time limit to allow people to complete the ride in comfort. Teas and coffees available at the start and the Stoke Canon control will have a selection of cakes and refreshments, and there are more refreshments at the finish including a cream tea! The route is normally waymarked with small arrows, and a GPX download is available too.

Sunday 19 August - Tour of the Hills 115 km, West Surrey CTC

Enjoy riding many of the Surrey Hills' best roads, including some used by the 2012 Olympic road race route. This very popular ride is also well known for its excellent catering. Despite its proximity to London, this is one of the most challenging and scenically stunning events in the country. Lovely forested climbs and exciting descents, many on centuries-old sunken lanes typical of the area, make this ride very special. Nutritionally balanced food is available at the start, mid-point and at the finish. 

Sunday 26 August - Wild Wales Challenge 140 km, Merseyside CTC

This year will mark the 34th edition of this most prestigious cycling event, which features a different route each year but is always set amid the spectacular scenery of North Wales. A traditional tourist challenge ride in which riders are invited to complete the course within a generous time allowance. Being set in the glorious North Wales countryside, riders should expect both steep climbs and descents.

Sunday 14 October - Gridiron 100 km, Wessex Cycling

The New Forest Gridiron is an autumnal adventure through the vast expanse of the New Forest, winding along undiscovered lanes and through luscious wooded canopies. Enjoy sharing the road with the occasional ponies, donkeys and even cattle! This event is one that each rider can make their own, with a 100 km route of very accessible riding, making it suitable to almost all cycling abilities. Keeping to the randonée spirit, riders are given a written route description and self-reliance is encouraged, GPX files are also provided for entrants. Refreshment stops available at start, finish and during the ride itself. 

Sunday 28 Oct - Emitremmus Desrever 101 km and 67 km, Stevenage Cycling Details TBC 

Celebrate Cycling and the End of Summertime with the 24th Emitremmus challenge ride from Stevenage on Sunday 28th October.Organised by the Stevenage group of Cycling UK (formerly CTC) hundreds of cyclists will leave Fairlands Valley Park to ride the 100 kilometres to Saffron Walden and back. It’s not a race, there will be check points and refreshments available at Hare Street, Saffron Walden and Therfield, and there’s up to eight hours to get back to Costello’s Café. Explore the rolling countryside in Hertfordshire and west Essex. Enjoy the WI teas in Therfield. There is also a shorter, slower 67 kilometre option – Emit Lite.


General information

Participants who successfully complete a Challenge Ride event will receive either a branded certificate, medal or other merchandise, subject to availability. 

Keep an eye on this page, the UK Cycling Events Guide and our social media for full details of all the events and how to enter them.

What sort of rides are they?

These rides are not races but rather challenge rides in which you are only competing against the clock to see if you can finish by a certain time. With distances ranging from as little as 50km to around 100km. Note that many events may have more than one ride option available but only the distances listed above will count for the Challenge Ride medals and certificates. This year, we have introduced an off-road option, the Devon Dirt to the series. Cycling UK's Victoria Hazael tells us what riding in a Challenge Ride Series event is really like. 

There may be check points or controls you have to visit en route to get a 'brevet' card or similar stamped, whereas other events may comprise just a route sheet with instructions that you follow on your own or they could be a led ride - check with the organisers to see exactly how the event will be run and what is included. Most will have refreshment stops and tea, coffee and cake or biscuits available either free or for a small extra charge.

How much is it to enter?

All events are very affordable to enter, with most around just £6 to £8, up to a maximum of around £21 (tbc) for the flagship Wild Wales Challenge as this ride includes full route directions, electronic timing, showers and so on. Some are even free!

How to enter

Please register to take part in each event directly with the organisers, who will each have their own entry processes. Note that many events sell out very quickly whilst others you can enter on the day.


All enquiries regarding specific events should be directed to the organisers. For general enquiries regarding Cycling UK events and groups or the Challenge Ride Series, contact us via email

Challenge Ride medal

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