Cycling events to look forward to 2021

Cycling events to look forward to 2021

While the year ahead is uncertain, that shouldn’t stop us from planning for better times. In this round up, Cycling UK highlights a variety of events for riders of all interests.

*This article was published prior to current lockdown restrictions. We're advising people to follow the guidance on exercising in our Q&A article*

Last year was a bit of a stinker when it came to putting together a calendar of cycling events. Fortunately, the outlook for 2021 looks much brighter, and many events which were cancelled in 2020 have been able to postpone until this year. We've pulled together the below list of events, which should be suitable for riders of all abilities and interests.

It's by no means exhaustive and with space limited it cannot cover the full breadth of the UK. Should you not be able to find an event in your area, then rest assured Cycling UK member and affiliate groups should have you covered. They hold thousands of rides and events throughout the year and across the UK which are all worth checking out.

Find your local Cycling UK group or see our events calendar.

Of course, if you’d rather not take part in a formal event, but still fancy being part of an event that can begin from your own front door, then you might like to consider Advntr.cc’s bikepacking bingo. Cycling UK has been informed this fun lockdown event of 2020 will be continued in spring 2021.

Please note, all dates below are subject to final confirmation – to find out more go directly to the event’s website.

Road


Road cyclists

The Cotswolds Classic
Moreton-in-Marsh
6 March

With four routes (20km to 120km) to choose from, there should be enough variety here for cyclists of all abilities to enjoy the fabulous scenery of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Etape Caledonia
Pitlochry, Scotland
16 May

There are two routes (40 and 85 mile) to entice you in this Scottish classic which features rolling hills, lochs and forest-lined roads. Places are limited at time of writing, but there are some available if you raise funding for charitable causes.

Tour of Cambridgeshire
Peterborough, England
4 – 6 June

This weekend festival of closed-road cycling events should cater for all roadies wishing to experience the pleasure of a traffic-free ride on smooth tarmac.

Dragon Ride
Margram Park, Wales
6 June

The Dragon Ride is always a popular ride and rightly so, as it takes you through the wilds of Wales on some incredibly challenging routes. There are four testing routes starting at 100km and rolling up to 304km with 4351m of ascent! Again places are limited due to the rollover from 2020, but there is a ballot if you’re tempted.

Lap the Lough
Moy & Charlemont
29 August

Run over the August bank holiday weekend, this 144km route takes you around the largest lake in Northern Ireland (and the UK), Lough Neagh. Signposted and fully supported, it’s a great way to experience this stunning part of Northern Ireland. If you’re planning on making the crossing via ferry, entrants also receive a 20% Stena ferry discount.

Off-road


Two mountain bikers descending down the Bloody Bush MTB trail. Photo Joolze Dymond / Cycling UK
Two mountain bikers descending down the Bloody Bush MTB trail. Photo: Joolze Dymond

Elan Valley MTB Challenge
Elan Valley, Wales
28 March

Being held for the third time, this ride is reportedly “old school MTB at its best”. Expect big climbs, descents ranging from fast and flowing to technical, all coupled with the Wales wilderness. There are two options 30km and 50km.

Devon Dirt
Ashburton, England
April

This classic ride organised by South Devon CTC was cancelled for 2020 for obvious reasons, but we’re sincerely hoping conditions will allow it to return for 2021. There are two routes between 44km and 70km and is the very definition of muddy good fun. Reward yourself with a cream tea at the end.

The Dirty Reiver
Kielder, England
17 April

Inspired by the gravel grinder format of mid-west America, this classic of the UK’s gravel calendar features three routes (200km, 130km and 65km), with the shortest open to e-bikes. Expect forest access roads, remote landscape, gravel and a festival to remember.

Tweedlove Bike Festival
Peebles, Scotland
17 – 19 September

Like many events in 2020, the Tweedlove Bike Festival was cancelled. There are good indications that this 11 year old festival will run in September though, where you can expect a variety of MTB events suitable for all ages.

King’s Cup: British Gravel Championships
King’s Forest, England
24 – 25 September

Between the live music, camping and the inaugural British Gravel Championships, expect to find time to take part in a series of events that could see you become Britain’s Gravel Champion. Not interested in racing? Don’t worry there’s a Gravel Fondo too, for individuals and team relays.

Lakelander Gravel Grinder
County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
09 October

Two challenging routes (Big and Little Dog) will take you along tracks and trails that may well be familiar to Games of Thrones fans. It promises to be a tough but enjoyable day in the saddle that’s suitable for gravel/adventure bikes or hard-tails.

Family


Cyclists at the New Forest Cycling Week
Cyclists at the New Forest Cycling Week

New Forest Cycling Week
Bransgore, England
23 July to 31 July 2021

Founded back in 1975, this informal rally is a Cycling UK member group event which draws back cyclists and members every year and brings together cyclists, with multi-generation rides suitable for all abilities and types of cycling. It’s a fun festive experience, which you can attend for a couple of days - or the whole week.

Semaine Federale 2021
Valognes (Normandy), France
25 July to 01 August

Run by Cycling UK’s sister organisation in France, Federation Francaise de Cyclotourisme, this year’s Semaine Federale comes to Normandy, making it easily accessible by the ferries to either Cherbourg or Caen. A week long festival of riding will help you explore the Norman peninsula, and being in France, you’ll have some of the very best fuel for your cycling adventures.  

Bikepacking / touring (multi day)


Three cyclists bikepacking
Bikepackers in one of the Dirt Dash events. Photo: Sam Jones

Cycle Touring Festival
Online
12 - 21 February

There's less riding at this festival, but you'll find plenty of inspiration of where to go next, and answers to all those questions you might have before you head out. Open to the touring curious, weekenderers and round the worlders, it's a fabulous festival in the flesh, which more is also great online.

Pannier Desert of Wales
Cambrian Mountains, Wales
12 – 15 June & 17 – 20 June

Experience three nights of classic riding on and off the road through the Cambrian Mountains with Pannier. This small company really knows how to make sure you get the most out of your cycle tour, so expect good company, great food and fantastic routes. If you’re looking for something closer to home, Pannier runs events across the UK.

King Alfred’s Way supported ride
Winchester, England
04 – 07 June

Run by Great North Trail guide writer, Max Darkins of affiliate Cycling UK group Rough Ride Guides, you’ll be able to experience Cycling UK’s latest trail, King Alfred’s Way. It’s 350km through 10,000 years of history – the beauty of travelling with Max? The ride is fully supported, your luggage is transported and you’re in very safe and capable hands.

For Cycling UK members, Max is offering 10% discount, just enter CUK10 and be prepared to present your membership number if asked.

Surly Dunoon Dirt Dash
Dunoon, Scotland
25 – 26 September

The Dirt Dash series began in Dorset and has since then expanded to include rides in Scotland and Wales. It’s a two day festival on bikes, through beautiful challenging scenery, made all the harder by having to lug your own accommodation and kit. You’ll meet hardcore bikepackers who have travelled the world, to those new to the activity. All are welcomed and a good time is guaranteed.

Challenge


Cyclist riding over gravel
The Great British Divide will (hopefully) run for the first time in 2021. Photo Great British Divide

Pan Celtic Race
Kingsand ending in Llandudno (Cornwall, Republic of Ireland and Wales)
04 July

This race of 1600 miles is self-supported and includes two ferry crossings and 100,000 ft of climbing through the Celtic nations of Cornwall, Wales, Republic of Ireland, before finishing in North Wales. It’s expected to take 7 – 14 days. If that sounds like too much, then there’s a more “manageable” shorter route, of 900 miles.

The Great British Divide
Kent to Strathcarron (England, Wales and Scotland)
31 July - 14 August

This new unsupported MTB bikepacking event run by a Cycling UK affiliate group was meant to start last year, but has been moved to 2021. 2300km and with more than 25,000m of climbing it’s a beast of a ride around Britain. Another similar but smaller scale event run by the same person, is the Great British Escapade on the North and South Downs (8 – 11 April and mid-September).

Cycling UK events


Women cycling
Cycling UK's Women's Festival of Cycling is one of the charity's events returning for 2021

World’s Biggest Bike Ride
The world
30 May

Kicking off Bike Week 2021, Cycling UK is aiming to hold the world’s biggest bike ride. We want to showcase how amazing cycling is, and are encouraging everyone from roadies to mountain bikers, seasoned tourers to family groups, the fit to the not so fit cyclists from across the country to log their rides to celebrate the bike and the joy of riding.

Bike Week
UK wide
30 May to 5 June

This annual celebration of cycling was a virtual event in 2020, so we’re hoping for 2021 it will be back to normal, with rides and events up and down the country, Be sure to keep an eye on the Bike Week page for updates and information on how to register your rides and get involved.

Women’s Festival of Cycling
UK wide
17 July to 01 August

The Women's Festival of Cycling will be taking place from 17 July to 1 August 2021. Join Cycling UK with organised rides, digital events, advice and more. We support women's cycling all year round, so be sure to stay tuned for our latest events and activities.

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