The initiative is aimed at helping people enjoy the outdoors through encouraging bikepacking and wild camping while fostering a culture of conservation.
Whether sleeping under a bivi bag or in a tent or hammock, participants are encouraged to post photographs of their adventures to Instagram using the hashtag #12nightsoutin1year, with hundreds of pictures uploaded already.
Each month, there will be a monthly competition in which people who have shared their pictures can win prizes related to cycling and navigation.
During the opening month of the campaign, running until the end of June, the winner will receive an annual subscription to OS Maps, an OS Dry Bag and an Alpkit Brukit stove, and anyone registering to take part in the challenge will be given one month’s free Premium access to OS Maps.
Monthly winners during the ensuing year will have their names entered into a grand prize draw in May 2022, with a chance to win an OS Trail 2 GPS, worth £344.99 and which gives access to the entire OS Maps range.
Nick Giles, Managing Director of Ordnance Survey Leisure said: “We passionately believe in the benefits the great outdoors can bring to us all.
“Through our award winning app, OS Maps, we are proud to help connect people with the outdoors through comprehensive mapping and routes at your fingertips.
“The last year has shown that you can still deliver adventure from your doorstep, and we are delighted to be working with Cycling UK to encourage people to keep challenging themselves to try something new, with OS Maps being a central tool to helping people adventure more by bike over the next year.”
Among those who have embraced the challenge are adventure cyclist Vedangi Kulkarni, originally from India, and who in 2018 took a break from her studies at Bournemouth University to become the youngest woman to ride around the world.
“To enjoy the British countryside, it doesn’t take much more than the curiosity to explore what’s just around the corner, the OS Maps app, and adequate snacks,” said Kulkarni, who is now based in Christchurch, Dorset and helps people worldwide plan their own outdoor escapades through her business, The Adventure Shed.
“Add some camping gear and a bike into the mix and I’m sure you’ll have a lovely night under the stars!
“You don’t need fancy kit or to travel to far flung places to have an adventure and discover the wilds of your local region,” she added.
“With everyone looking to get away this year but not necessarily able to travel far, Cycling UK and OS Maps’ challenge gives an incentive for people to get outside and discover new sights round where they live.”
Besides prompting people to explore the countryside now lockdown restrictions are easing, both Cycling UK and OS Maps are encouraging entrants to consider their environmental impact and to remove from the rural areas they visit more than they take there, to leave it in a better condition than they found it, a philosophy known as Leave No Trace.
Sam Jones of Cycling UK, who has himself undertaken a bikepacking trip with nights spent in the open at least once a month during the past two years, explained: “Anyone who enjoys the countryside, whether they’re walking, riding or running will have seen that all too familiar blight mark of others’ passage: litter.
“12nightsoutin1year will be just as much about you enjoying nature, as ensuring it’s in a better state than when you found it.
“Trash free trails are something we can all work towards every time we head out.”
To help get people started, Cycling UK has also produced a short video showing ways in which a bike combined with a tarpaulin can be used to create overnight shelter.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.