Red Bull Hill Chasers, Edinburgh: 12 April
A gruelling multi-discipline event, the Chasers competition pitches champion mountain bikers, BMXers, road cyclists and fixer-gear riders against each other to see who really is king of the hill. The race takes place on The Mound, with the initial 500 cyclists whittled down to 30 for the main event; these 30 then compete against 10 of the UK’s top cyclists, which makes this a dream opportunity for anyone who believes they could give the champs a run for their money.
• The Mound, redbull.com/Red-Bull-Hill-Chasers
UCI BMX Supercross World Cup, Manchester: 18-19 April
Featuring the world’s best BMX riders, the Supercross cup features crashes, jumps and drama of the kind you will never see at a road cycling event. It’s held at the National Cycling Centre – Britain’s first indoor Olympic cycling track. The venue was expanded in 2011 to include a new £19m BMX track, which sees riders launch themselves down an eight-metre- high Supercross ramp to start each race.
• National Cycling Centre, Stuart Street, 0161 223 2244, bmxsuperx.com
Giro d’Italia Big Start, Belfast-Dublin: 9-11 May
While the Tour de France is making history with the Grand Départ in Yorkshire, the Giro d’Italia – an epic annual tour around Italy – is doing much the same this May when it kicks off in Northern Ireland. Over three days cyclists will power through stages taking them through Belfast, along the Causeway Coast and then from Armagh to Dublin. It’s a spectacular route through beautiful countryside, and thousands of spectators are expected to line the roads to watch the riders. The run-up to the start will also see a host of special events before the arrival of over 200 of the world’s top professional cyclists who are competing this year.
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Fort William: 7-8 June
Although the 4X event, in which four bikers race down a jump-filled track, features plenty of hair-raising moments, the climax of the Mountain Bike World Cup will undoubtedly be the downhill, in which athletes with nerves of steel let gravity drag them down a steep course of challenging and technical features. British riders rank well in both disciplines, so medal chances are high for the hosts. Getting up close to the action will make for a fantastic day out, with fans lining the tracks to shout, cheer and even play the bagpipes in support of the riders.
L’Eroica: 20-22 June
Expect to see drop-down handlebars and handlebar moustaches at this vintage derby dubbed “The most handsome bike race in the world”. An annual event held in Tuscany since 1997, this year is the first time the event has come to the UK and it will consist of a three-day bike festival in the Peak District, celebrating classic cycling style as much as the act of riding itself – all entrants must be riding a pre-1987 road bike with gear shifters on the down tube of the frame. “Adventurers” can choose a 30-, 50- or 100-mile route along beautiful trails that will only serve to accentuate further the organiser’s justifiably rose-tinted view of the sport.
• Bakewell, Derbyshire, 07943 533667, eroicabritannia.co.uk
Tour de France, Yorkshire’s Grand Départ: 5-6 July
Sir Bradley Wiggins’ and Chris Froome’s historic victories have helped spread Tour de France fever around the country, but Britain’s new-found fervour for competitive cycling looks set to continue this summer when the race kicks off in Yorkshire. It will be the first time the race has ventured to the north of England and two stages will take place there, taking riders through the Dales from Leeds to Harrogate, and then from York to Sheffield, before the Tour moves south for a third stage from Cambridge to London.
The Dunwich Dynamo: 12 July
This cult cycling phenomenon sees thousands of riders race through the night from London Fields in Hackney to the Suffolk coast. Originally the idea of a small group of cycle couriers (who did the ride on their “fixies”), the event now sees around 2,000 participants – with many taking part on highly impractical bicycles, including a Boris bike and a penny farthing. The easygoing event encourages cyclists of all abilities to take part and there are feed stops along the way – more recently in the form of pop-up stalls in people’s front gardens.
Prudential RideLondon: 9-10 August
An annual world-class cycling festival that’s another legacy of the 2012 Olympics, RideLondon brings together cyclists of all abilities for a weekend of races, fun rides and spectating. The FreeCycle event on the Saturday sees around 50,000 riders enjoy a traffic-free tour around London past landmarks including Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, while the Grand Prix showcases the country’s future Olympic champions. Those looking for a more serious ride can take part in the RideLondon Surrey 100 race, a long-distance ride on closed roads out of the capital and into the countryside before finishing with a spectacular sprint down the Mall.
South West Tour Ride Sportive: 5 September
For those set on racing a stage of a professional bike race (and who really don’t want to make it easy for themselves), the South West Tour Ride takes you on the longest and hardest stage of this year’s Tour of Britain. The 175km coast-to-coast ride takes competitors through exhausting hill terrain in the West Country, with ascents to challenge even the most experienced rider. The stage can be ridden as a “pro” or “challenge” sportive, and there’s a lighter option for the family involving laps of a 1.5km circuit around Teignmouth.
Wiggle Etape Cymru, Wrexham: 14 September
Pitched as the UK’s toughest closed-road sportive, Etape Cymru is an “epic”, “lung-busting” and “leg-aching” way to finish the season. Taking its riders through the Clwydian Range and Dee valley in north Wales, the event includes one stage that sees cyclists race 6.1km up a climb that gains 317 metres in height and has a gradient that reaches 20% at its hardest points. If you can’t hack it, there are plenty of pubs along the route where you can cheer on the race’s hardy competitors.
Grand Depart cultural festival, Yorkshire: until 6 July
Maximising the opportunity offered by the Tour de France visiting the north of England, Yorkshire is putting on a 100-day cultural festival in the run-up to the Grand Départ. Among the 47 projects planned are photography exhibitions, screenings and bicycle-themed performances: one of which involves riders pulling a grand piano up a six-mile hill while pianists perform a musical cycle.
• Various locations, festival.yorkshire.com
Spin LDN, London: 28-30 March
East London is famed for its well-established cycling scene, and it was only a matter of time before a stylish urban festival sprang up on the back of it. The event is the go-to exhibition for city-cycle enthusiasts, with brands from Brooks to Espresso, Foffa to Moulton all pitching up to display their finest wares. Some of the most forward-thinking cycling brands will be there, such as the Swedish designers behind Hovding: the world’s first airbag for cyclists, also known as the “invisible helmet”, while DJs including 6 Music’s Gideon Coe will keep feet tapping throughout.
• Old Truman Brewery, London, spinldn.com
Bespoked – The UK Handmade Bicycle Show, London: 11-13 April
If you’re after some eye-candy, this festival is where you can expect to find the kinds of bicycles you dream of. Beautiful custom-builds from a range of exhibitors are on display, highlighting the skill and craft that goes into frame building and handmade components. It’s a chance to meet the passionate people who make these high-end bikes and try them out, and there will be talks from builders and riders. On the Sunday there’s a small tour of the nearby Donhou bicycle workshop .
• Lee Valley Velodrome, bespoked.cc
Velo festival, Cambridgeshire: May-September
As with Yorkshire, Cambridge is also creating a series of bike-themed cultural and sporting events to run alongside its own leg of the Tour, which takes place on 7 July. The programme includes a bike ballet, cycling roadshows and a major artistic commission supported by the Arts Council, as well as a host of smaller projects and events around the city.
• Various locations, cambridge.gov.uk/le-tour-cambridge