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If the winter weather is getting you down, start planning next year's fun; here's a selection of rides to fire your imagination

There are countless bike events to choose from every year and here are 10 of the best that members of the road.cc team have either ridden in the past or hope to ride in 2020.

What events would you recommend to other readers? Let us know in the comments down below.

Dirty Reiver dirty reiver ed mason 10.JPG

What is it? A gravel event with 65km, 130km and 200km route options
Where? Kielder, Hexham, Northumberland
When? 17-18 April 2020
Entries open Now
Price To be confirmed
Why do we recommend it? "The Dirty Reiver is relentless," says Dave Atkinson of road.cc. "I've done some much longer rides in terms of distance, but the combination of the fact that there's very little flat ground, and the fact that you need to concentrate all the time to stop yourself from ending up sprawled on the gravel, means that mentally and physically it's extremely challenging. It wears you down bit by bit, and I was genuinely broken by the end. It's certainly one of the hardest rides I've ever done.

Watch our Dirty Reiver video

"The Dirty Reiver is certainly an experience. There's very little else like it in the UK. Kielder feels like proper wilderness, and there are plenty of times when you doubt whether your emergency whistle would be much use. It's rugged and beautiful, and the riding is hard. The organisation on the day was flawless, and the feed stops were excellent. If you have the chance to take part, you should take it."
Go to the event website 

Dulux London Revolution

londonrev_marlow.jpg

What is it? A single-day or two-day ride in and around London
Where? Lee Valley Athletics Centre, Edmonton, London
When? 9-10 May 2020
Entries open Now
Price £134 (the Ultra distance)
Why do we recommend it? You can tackle the whole of the Dulux London Revolution's 155-mile Ultra route in a single day if you're feeling superfit, or you can choose to do the 82-mile Southern Stage on the Saturday and/or the 73-mile Northern Stage on the Sunday. Opt for both days and £199 pays for your camping, massage, dinner, breakfast and a pass to the midway Festival Basecamp.

Read about Tass's London Revolution ride

The full route takes in famous London landmarks, the North Downs, Windsor Great Park, the Chiltern Hills, and Epping Forest, and there are some tougher climbs than you'd expect along the way.
Go to the event website 

The Saddleback Fred Whitton ChallengeFred Whitton Challenge 2009 (pic by Tony Greenbank)

What is it? A super-tough sportive covering 114 miles in the Lake District
Where? Grasmere, Cumbria
When? 7 June 2020
Price £70​
Entries open 2 December 2019 (advance/charity/overseas entry), then 6-17 January 2020 (general entry)
Why do we recommend it? The Fred Whitton Challenge is a 114-mile sportive that takes in some of the Lake District's toughest climbs, including Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose. The maximum gradient is 30% on Hardknott Pass, and you'll already have 98 miles in your legs at this stage. The cumulative ascent for the ride is 3,950m. It's the difficulty of the route that has made the Fred Whitton so popular over the past 20 years.

The event offers 2,000 places but it is always oversubscribed. In most cases you need to get your name down on the list in early January and then hope that you are successful in the draw for slots.  

"There are so many reasons to recommend the Fred Whitton," says Dave Atkinson of road.cc. "It's very much a community event, with full buy-in from all the towns and villages it passes through; it's the only sportive I've ever ridden in the UK that has the party feel of the best continental ones, where everyone just comes out to cheer you round.

"On top of that it's in a truly beautiful location, and if that's not enough it also includes Hardknott Pass, which is one of the hardest climbs I've ever ridden anywhere in the world. The Fred Whitton is an institution – it has a good claim to be the original sportive ride in the UK – and everyone should ride it at least once.​"
Go to the event website 

Ride Riccione

Italy Week Ride Riccione - 1 (1)

What is it? A sportive that winds through some of the most beautiful landscapes between Romagna and San Marino
Where? Riccione, Rimini, Italy
When? 7 June 2020
Entries open 3 December 2019
Price To be confirmed
Why do we recommend it? We're biased here because road.cc has a link with Hotel Belvedere in Riccione, but you can't go wrong with a few days of riding in Italy culminating in the local sportive.

Read about our Ride Riccione experience here 

Ride Riccione offers three different routes from 70km (43 miles) to 150km (93 miles). The long route involves over 3,000m or climbing, the highlight being the Cippo di Carpegna, Marco Pantani's favourite climb. 

"It is on Carpegna that I have prepared so many of my victories," said Pantani. "Carpegna mi basta" – Carpegna is enough. 

It's not the tallest climb in the world and at just 6.1km it's far from the longest, but it's steep and the gradient darts about all over the place. It's a lot of fun!

Go to the event website 

Vätternrundan

Vatternrundan ride Sweden good luck grandad - 1

What is it? A 315km (196 miles) ride around Lake Vättern in Sweden
Where? Motala, Sweden
When? 12-13 June 2020
Entries open Now 
Price 1,475 SEK (about £120) before 30 March 2020, thereafter 1,800 SEK (about £145)
Why do we recommend it? The Vätternrundan is a non-competitive ride (although everyone carries a chip and gets a time) around Lake Vättern in southern Sweden, starting and finishing in the town of Motala. 

The Vätternrundan is billed as 'the world's largest recreational bike event' with close to 23,000 entrants every year. About 20% of last year's participants were attracted from outside of Sweden, with about 70 different countries represented.

"This one's been on the list for a while, partly because it's in Sweden and I like Sweden, partly because it's a 300km flat smash which kind of sounds like a laugh when you live somewhere as hilly as I do, and partly because it's a huge event so there's thousands of people to hide behind on the way round,"​ says Dave Atkinson.
Go to the event website 

Chase the Sun

What is it? A coast to coast road ride from east to west; three routes are available
Where? There's one in southern England, one in northern England and southern Scotland, and one in Italy 
When? 20 June 2020
Entries open Now
Price UK versions are free (donations requested), Italian version is €150 (if UCI registered) or €170
Why do we recommend it? Chase the Sun is a group of three non-competitive, do-it-yourself bike rides from the east coast to the west coast, two in the UK and one in Italy. They take place between sunrise and sunset on the same day. There are no rules, no signs and no medals, but there are route maps to follow.

The UK South route starts at the Isle of Sheppey on the Thames Estuary, covers 205 miles and finishes in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset. 

The UK North route goes from Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, to Prestwick in South Ayrshire.

The Italian one is from Cesenatico, by the Adriatic Sea, to Tirrenia on the Tyrrhenian coast, close to Pisa. It takes you across the Appenines and through the landscape of Tuscany
Go to the event website

Lauf Gritfest

gritfest 2019 photos 35_0

What is it? A two-day gravel enduro with timed special stages
Where? Cilycwm, near Llandovery, Mid Wales
When? 20-21 June 2020
Price To be confirmed
Entries open Now
Why do we recommend it? "The Lauf Gritfest serves up two days of quality gravel riding through spectacular scenery, with timed stages within longer routes making for a laid back and sociable atmosphere," says Dave Arthur of road.cc.

"Gritfest is fun every step of the way. Based in the big hills of Mid Wales, the 2019 event offered up 80km on day one and 40km on day two. There were six timed stages in total, equally spread out on each day, with the longest a 19km leg burner on Saturday. Each timed stage was on prime gravel, some packed with climbing, others more gravity fuelled, and others plain rollercoasters through the forests. 

"My favourite was either the Lauf True Grit stage with an awesomely quick descent to the finish, or the final stage which took in the mountain bike trails of Cwm Rhaeadr and brought bike handling skills as well as stamina to the fore. 

"The event is accessible and appealing to people of all experience levels. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a gravel bike, a cyclocross or mountain bike will do just fine."

Places are limited and are likely to sell out fast.
Go to the event website 

London to Brighton Bike RideLondon to Brighton (CC licensed by youngie:Flickr)

What is it? A 54-mile point-to-point ride to the sea in aid of the British Heart Foundation
Where? Clapham Common, London to Brighton (funnily enough)
When? 21 June 2020
Price £45​
Entries open Now
Why do we recommend it? "The British Heart Foundation’s London to Brighton Bike Ride is the UK’s biggest charity cycle ride, and though it’s extremely busy – 30,000 or so cyclists take part – it’s really good fun," says Tass Whitby of road.cc.

"With all day to cover the 54 miles from Clapham Common to Brighton’s seafront, you can relax and not worry about the queuing (at junctions, through villages, up Ditchling Beacon). Instead you just wave to the people who’ve come out to cheer you on throughout the ride, stop off and enjoy the food and entertainment put on in villages along the way, and not think about how long it’ll take you to escape from Brighton after it’s all over."
Go to the event website 

Deloitte Ride Across BritainJoG rah!.jpg

What is it? A nine-day, 980-mile organised ride from Land's End to John o’ Groats
Where? From one end of Great Britain to the other
When? 5-13 September 2020
Price £1,799 until 31 January 2020, £1,899 thereafter, lower prices if you ride only England or only Scotland​, £499 when you pledge to raise £2,200​ for a charity partner
Entries open Now
Why do we recommend it? "Riding from Land’s End to John o’ Groats is one of those things that every cyclist should do, and the Deloitte Ride Across Britain (RAB) is a brilliant way to do it," says Tass Whitby.

Read about Tass's Deloitte Ride Across Britain experience 

"It’s not a challenge to be taken on lightly, though. Where many organised LEJOG tours take two or even three weeks, the RAB does it in nine days. Essentially, it’s like nine long sportives in a row – the longest 119 miles, the shortest 100 – punctuated with nights under canvas. Yes, you get to sleep in a tent (or hotel if you pay extra). It’s organised brilliantly – the route is fully signposted, all food is provided, your luggage is transported, your tent erected – all you need to do is join the ‘RAB bubble’ and ride."
Go to the event website 

L’Eroica 

Eroica 819

What is it? A sportive in Tuscany ridden on vintage bikes over distances from 46km (29 miles) to 209km (130 miles)
Where? Gaiole in Chianti, Italy
When? 4 October 2020
Entries open To be confirmed
Price To be confirmed
Why do we recommend it? There are various Eroica events around the world, including Eroica Britannia in the UK, but the original takes place on the first Sunday of October every year in picture postcard Tuscany.

You have to ride a road racing bike built before 1987, it has to be steel, and it has to have down tube shifters and toe clips (there are exceptions to each of these requirements, but you get the idea; it's a vintage event).

The other big thing that distinguishes L’Eroica is the road surface. The event goes over a lot of strade bianche – chalk roads that are sometimes gravelly and quite dusty, sometimes sandy, sometimes smooth and sometimes bumpy. They’re a lot of fun.

It’s a chance to ride a classic bike, dress up in retro clothes and have a laugh. There's also a lot of food and drink to be had in the towns and villages you pass through, as long as you're not in a hurry.

Go to the event website 

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

2 comments

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James Walker [24 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

Here's a great one Matt, Black Forest Gravel Rally in southern Germany in July. 65, 85 or 120km routes through the gorgeous Black Forest and a great weekend of activities. https://www.gravel-rallye.com  Great beer as well!!

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Russell Orgazoid [567 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes

Maratona