Sportives, National Trust

Will rocketing petrol prices create a holiday bicycle boom? More and more tourism businesses seem to believe so. For instance, April saw the launch of Cambridge Bike Tours, the first of its kind to provide a programme of bicycle tours around the city and surrounding areas. As well as modern bikes, tourists have the opportunity to try some nostalgic and immaculately refurbished historic British bikes.

Cambridge is famous for its cycling and has over 80 miles of cycle paths and lanes to explore. The company claims its tours offer tourists a unique outdoors experience and enable them to see more of the city and river than on the many walking tours available. Surprisingly, Cambridge Bike Tours is the first tour company in the city to offer a programme dedicated purely to bicycle tours.

The company runs a programme of four different tours operating every day of the week in the summer except Tuesdays. Three of the tours cost £20 and the full day tour costs £33, including bike and helmet. Discounts are available for students, families and groups.

Also getting busy on two wheels is the National Trust, which has launched a new series of challenge rides (also known as sportives). Anyone who’s ever fancied the idea of taking part in a challenging cycle ride through stunning countryside or around a beautiful country estate could be in for a treat with one of them.

All of the routes start and finish at National Trust sites and the first ride will take place in Pembrokeshire in West Wales on 1 May.

The National Trust’s Philip Broadbent-Yale said: “These rides offer a fantastic way to see amazing countryside and have been specifically designed to cater for all ages and abilities, from first-time riders to seasoned pros, there’s something for everyone.”

With distances ranging from a few miles, which is ideal for families, to more testing 50-100 mile rides for the more experienced, these cycling challenges are designed for those who love spending time in the great outdoors. The routes wind through open countryside and will be fully way-marked and marshalled by professional event organisers.

Challenge rides planned for 2011 are:

  • 1 May – National Trust Pembrokeshire Challenge Ride at Stackpole in Wales
  • 19 June – Father’s Day Ride at Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire
  • 3 July – National Trust White Peak Challenge Ride – Illam, Peak District (TBC)
  • 3 July – Kingston Lacy in Dorset
  • 24 July – Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire
  • 11 Sept – Wimpole in Cambridgeshire
  • 2 October – Dartmoor Atlantic Challenge at the Parke Estate in Devon
  • 9 October – Sizergh Castle in the Lake District

More information on the rides, how to register and more downloadable cycle trails can be found at National Trust website

Also happening this summer will be the Trust’s first ever Cycling Festival which will take place between 16-24 July, with bike-ride events and activities happening at 25 locations, including Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire and Scotney Castle in Kent.

Finally, March saw the launch of a unique cycle route in Dorset, where to celebrate its 50th Anniversary, Dorset Wildlife Trust has created 42toDO, a special route taking in all of its 42 nature reserves. At 260 miles through the best of Dorset’s landscapes, it is a challenge that people can take up by bike, on foot or even by car, with shorter routes also available for a more leisurely day.

Fiona Sansom of Dorset Wildlife Trust said:

“42toDO is all about celebrating our wonderful nature reserves. Anybody can do it, whether they cycle the whole thing in one go or tick off a few nature reserves at a time on a leisurely ride or walk. Our route is suitable for cyclists, avoiding main roads where possible, but you can still visit the reserves by car, so there’s no reason to feel left out!”

The Trust has produced a map which includes all you need to know about where and when to see unmissable wildlife such as wood anemones, bluebells, sand lizards, early spider orchids or red squirrels.

With different punches at every reserve to collect on the 42toDO maps, challengers will win a certificate and special badge for achieving all 42 or for more than half. There will be additional prizes for the most impressive or unusual ways of completing the challenge.

The 42toDO challenge is free. For a pack, click here