The signs of autumn might be gradually infiltrating our lovely summer of cycling, but that’s no reason to cut down on your riding.
Even if you mainly ride to get yourself to and from work, your motivation to do so, and to put some extra effort into your commutes can be supercharged if you’ve got an event in mind a few weeks down the line.
Admittedly, there are not quite as many cycling events over autumn and winter, organisers cram the majority of their calendar into the summer months when the weather is more reliable.
However, there are some pretty tough late season challenge events on the horizon – here’s a look at some of the fun coming up near London…
Looking for a sportive?
There are a variety of events starting and ending not too far from London over September, as you can see. Events vary in distances, and are hosted in the counties surrounding London – Surrey, Kent, Hampshire being popular haunts.
The seasonally named ‘Essex Ride of the Falling Leaves’ is a popular event organised by the Essex Roads Cycling Club. Taking place on Sunday 21st September, it’s a 150km ride that promises to provide plenty of rolling country lane mileage for your £25 entry fee.
As well as feed stations on the route, there will be cake and coffee on tap at HQ, Barleylands Farm and Craft Village, along with sports massage and showers to help you on the road to recovery after the event.
Just over 20 miles from the city center, you can reach the HQ easily from either Billericay railway station (on the Liverpool Street line) or Basildon railway Station (on the Fenchurch Street line).
Tempted? Enter here.
At 150km, you’d be forgiven for fancying a shorter event, and there are plenty to check out here.
Looking for an off-road ride?
As an out and out roadie in the summer, the author is a little tempted by this event – the British Heart Foundation London to Brighton, Off-Road Bike Ride.
At 75 miles, mostly off-road, the leg stretcher on Saturday 20th September mixes cycle path, single track, and forest paths for a challenging ride that will feel like a breath of fresh air if you’ve been on tarmac most of the year.
The BHF promise that this won’t bee an overly technical ride, with endurance being a greater requirement to get you over the distance, so you’ll just need a mountain bike and enough fitness to get you through.
The event costs £35, which covers water en-route, massage, route marking, a medal at the end, medical and mechanical support.
Here’s a look at last year’s ride:
A shorter MTB ride?
The BHF ride is a long distance route for an off-road event. If you’re after something a little shorter, Evans Cycles are hosting off-road events at Biggin Hill (near New Addington) in November.
Rides start at 15 miles, with 25 miles and 30 mile options, too. You can see a bit of the terrain here (not sure who chose the soundtrack..):
Rides are £17.50, and you get electronic timing, feed stations, route way marking and mechanical support.
Looking for something a bit different?
If you fancy something a bit short and sharp, the London Cyclocross League might hold an answer for you.
We wrote about cyclocross here around this time last year. Events are usually about 1 hour, but it’s hard and fast racing that takes place predominantly off road, with some on road segments.
People who are pretty serious about CXing will usually have a cyclocross bike, which is designed specifically for the purpose of combining speed and agility of a road bike and ruggedness of a MTB. However, a lot of people get stuck in (sometimes literally) for a bit of fun and ride mountain bikes.
Cyclocross is famed for being a great chance to get hot and sweaty over autumn and winter, then follow it up with a beer and frites in a muddy field with your mates – unless you want to race high level, it can be mainly about getting muddy and having a laugh.
Racing starts in September, with some based in London at Herne Hill Velodrome, and other events in Brighton, and Gravesend (Essex).
The Halloween Moonride
I’ll preface the details with the fact that entry cost £39, but you then need to raise £200 for a charity of your choice (there is the option of paying £99 in total).
The ride is pretty unique. Beginning from ‘Dracula’s Lair’ (SE1, apparently..) at 10pm on Friday 31st October, the route loops 80km through town, exploring the most famous sites of ‘horror’. Groups will set of from 11pm, and there will be time to enjoy Crypt entertainment.
Here’s some highlights:
Mechanics and medics (dressed in spooky get-up) will be supporting the ride, and we imagine you may want to go fancy dress to ‘fit in’. Sign up here.