This time of year, we’re all dreaming of riding like the professionals and at these events you practically can. The events we’ve listed below are our pick of the best road events for cyclists to take part in worldwide.
Most have closed roads, or as good as, many feedstops, amazing scenery, iconic roads and the chance to ride with many others with the same idea. We’ve listed them in no particular order except when they appear on the calendar.
Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour
South Africa, March
Sunshine, sea and smooth roads.
First up is the Cape Argus in South Africa, the world’s biggest mass participation cycle event with 35,000 riders. There’s a weeklong festival of cycling events which culminates on the Sunday with the main 110km ride. Roads are closed and temperature is hot, although the wind can be a problem, but it hasn’t stopped thousands of overseas visitors returning year after year to the event.
At the front end of the field are professional ‘Gran Fondo’ riders (mainly ex pros or top amateurs) who race the event with prize money to boot. The other 99%of the field are simply out to have a good time at the world’s biggest cycle event.
Tour of Flanders
Cobbled bergs aplenty.
If you like your Spring Classic races then the ride to do is the Tour of Flanders sportive in Belgium. It takes place the day before the race making it ideal not only for riding but also as a weekend away as many stay over to watch the pros in action on the very same roads the next day.
There are several routes available (the full professional race distance of 245km, 134km & 75km) all with a mix of iconic bergs and cobbled sections so no matter which distance you choose you are going to ride some hallowed turf.
The roads are not closed but are as good as and the marshalling, signage and feedstops are all excellent, mind you with 18,000 people riding it would be pretty hard to go wrong.
Weather is often cold and wet so if you do happen to ride it on a good day make sure you come back when the weather is bad to see what cobbled Classic riding is really like.
Gran Fondo New York
Big smiles in the Big Apple.
This is one event that should win you brownie points if you bring the non-cycling other half. Taking place on closed roads though New York and out into the countryside is sure to give some amazing sites and lasting memories.
There are 50 and 100 mile routes which contain more climbing than you would think and why you would go all the way to NYC only to do 50 miles is beyond us so unless you have a major mishap you need to train up and do the 100 route.
It’s also going to be a long weekend whatever way you look at it so unless you take your private jet make a holiday out of it and stay some time either side. Riding and brownie points, no better combination for a cyclist.
Etape du Tour
Breathtaking scenery and iconic climbs.
The Etape du Tour provides a chance for mere mortals to experience what it’s like to ride a Tour de France stage. Each year the organisers of the Tour pick a mountain stage in the Alps or Pyrenees and replicate the exact route with closed roads, feedstops and yellow Mavic car back up.
Places sell out almost instantly as people clamber for the chance to get a time and compare it with the professionals later. There are no shorter distances available so everyone who starts and sticks to the route will ride the same distance as the pros.
Don’t let the fact that the professionals have ridden flat out for two weeks up to that day and also have a week to go in the race when bragging about how close you got to the last finisher on the stage when they do it.
Around the Bay
Typical view on the Mornington Peninsula.
This is the biggest road cycling event in Australia with 14,000 entrants. It’s a 250km or 210km loop of the Melbourne Bay in Victoria with a short ferry crossing included so you get a rest whether you need it or not.
You can do the loop clockwise or anti clockwise but we’d recommend the anticlockwise as you get to take in the absolutely stunning Mornington Peninsula coast road on the second half on the way back into the city.
It’s quite a rolling course and weather is normally good for the event but wind on the exposed coastal sections can be tough. There are also several shorter routes (135km, 100km, 50km and a family friendly 20km) which start at different points on the course but all have the same finish in Melbourne.