The southern part of the Lake District will next year provide a stunning scenic backdrop to The Mighty Corinthian, open only people riding pre-1987 bicycles and billed as the longest retro cycling event in the world. Entries, which open on Friday, will be limited to 300 riders.
The event has been launched by Sportive Lakes, who are the people behind the vintage cycling festival À L’ancienne, and comes as interest grows in riding events restricted to those on bikes from Yesteryear.
Clocking in at 301 kilometres, the Mighty Corinthian is almost half as long again as Italy’s L’Eroica, also limited to pre-1987 bikes and very much the benchmark for such events, which is now expanding internationally including through L’Eroica Britannia in Derbyshire, launched last year.
It will debut on 25 June 2016 – rather shrewdly, that’s one week after L’Eroica Britannia, which attracts 3,000 cyclists to Bakewell for a three-day festival.
Organisers of the Mighty Corinthian stress though that the event’s emphasis is on the ride itself rather than being a festival.
It starts and ends in Ulverston, with riders expected to take between 12 and 18 hours to cover the route which takes in Coniston, Ambleside, Thirlmere, Keswick, Caldbeck, Hartside, Appleby, Ullswater and Kirkstone.
According to organisers, “the route [which you can see here] will be long but not too hard with start times from 0300-0500. There will be no pointless suffering, with the harshest Lakes climbs avoided and the finest landscapes visited.”
Event director Alan Brenton said: “We were looking for a fourth event to complete our annual calendar. We like our events to be distinctive, special and we were struggling for a concept.
“Around the same time I read Tim Moore’s Gironimo followed by William Fotheringham’s Fallen Angel and the seed was sown.
“I started to think about how we could create a very different retro event, one which was all about a classic ride and less about the festival.
“I rode the route in April as a research tour, at the time it was 285km and a bit too challenging. Someone said, ‘If I’m doing 285, I want to do 300!’ and the idea was born.”
He added: “We’re developing a reputation for events with high levels of support and great food, where fun and friendship are more important than speed. So, there will be at least five food stops with real, quality food matching the time of day.
“We’ll have quality vintage hire bikes and great on-course support. We want people to succeed, so we’ll do everything we can to get you around – the rest is up to you!”
Participants who complete the event will be able to buy a merino Mighty Corinthian jersey afterwards – a kind of badge of honour to show the rider has conquered it.
Entries open at 1am on Friday morning via the event website and if you get in quick will cost £78 with an early bird discount, before reverting to the full price of £98.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.