8 Great Bike Festivals For 2015
Who needs awful bands and overpriced, warm lager when you can have a festival packed with bike riding, racing and chat instead?
Cycling festivals have been booming in recent years and there's something for everyone – whether you want to watch the pros race, test your own mettle or just pull a really long wheelie...Here's our pick of the top bike festivals 2015.
Tweedlove– May 16 to June 1
If the UK had a capital of mountain biking, we're pretty sure it would be the Tweed Valley – with arguably the greatest concentration of top-notch trails in the country and a big community of keen riders.
So it's no surprise to find the area hosting the longest bike festival in the UK – a two-week long celebration of two wheels entitled Tweedlove.
Covering on and off-road biking, the centrepiece of the festival is a round of the Enduro World Series – which will see some of the world's fastest riders tackling the area's legendarily steep and technical trails.
There's also an untimed event for keen riders to tackle the taped-off course the day after, along with a road sportive, a cyclocross race and a selection of more relaxed rides.
Aber Cycle Fest – May 21 to 24
The handsome mid-Wales seaside town of Aberystwyth will be going bike mad on the late May bank holiday
With a town-centre criterium race, a sportive of up to 114 miles and downhill MTB action on local landmark Constitution Hill – the handsome mid-Wales seaside town of Aberystwyth will be going bike mad on the late May bank holiday.
Fringe events will be running in the week before Aber Cycle Fest, including a group ride at nearby trail centre Nant-yr-Arian and roller racing in a local cafe.
There's a film night on Thursday before the action really kicks off with the televised Pearl Izumi Tour Series crit race on Friday.
It's all downhill on the Saturday and the Continental Wild West Sportive is happening on the Sunday.
Edinburgh Festival of Cycling – June 11 to 21
Scotland's capital is famous for its arts festivals and - as you might expect - its bike-based festival is heavily focused on the cultural side of cycling.
The festival includes films, talks, workshops and a selection of rides
Spanning 11 days, the not-for-profit Edinburgh Festival of Cycling includes films, talks, workshops and a selection of rides taking in the city's famous landmarks.
And for those wishing to stretch their legs a bit more, there's also a 100km audax ride and an MTB orienteering event in the nearby Pentland Hills.
Eroica Britannia – June 19 to 21
Eroica Britannia is a retro bikefest which bills itself as the most handsome festival in the world
Do you enjoy fancy dress? Do you think that they don't make bikes like they used to? Then you need to book your place for Eroica Britannia – a retro bikefest which bills itself as “the most handsome festival in the world".
The UK offspring of L'Eroica – a vintage bike ride held in the Chianti region of Italy – was an instant hit when it arrived in beautiful Bakewell in the Peak District last year.
No bikes made after 1987 are allowed in the ride – apart from very strictly controlled “retro" machines - and riders must wear era-appropriate clothing for their chosen steed. But even if you're not taking part in the 30, 50 or 100 mile rides, the festival is worthy of a visit in its own right – with vintage clothes and kit, fun contests and the world's biggest bike jumble.
Staffordshire Cycling Festival – July 3 and 4
While some bike events are more about socialising, discussing the big issues or buying bike-related goodies, the Staffordshire Cycling Festival is all about that race.
There's a grand prix circuit race in the centre of Stafford on the Friday night, followed by a similar pro women's event the next day – and then a longer “kermesse" race which takes in some of the nearby Shugborough Estate as well as part of the town.
But it's not just the pros who'll get to suffer, because there are also two sportives for visitors to get stuck into, with scenic loops out into the undulating (OK, surprisingly hilly) local countryside.
And Shugborough will play host to an amateur MTB race on the Saturday.
Big Bike Bash – August 28 to 31
Ever had the urge to ride your bike (or perhaps somebody else's) into a lake? Well if you haven't managed to scratch that itch yet, the Big Bike Bash can help you tick it off your bucket list.
The family friendly three-dayer includes a variety of races and stunt contests – some sillier than other
Running for six years down on the south coast of England, the event began life as an informal get-together for a group of MTB nuts – and was so successful that it was turned into a fundraiser for the UK Youth charity.
The family friendly three-dayer includes a variety of races and stunt contests – some sillier than others – with the wheelie competition and trailer race among the most hotly contested.
As well as the bikes, there is also a packed line-up of bands, beer, food and other activities including canoeing and a climbing wall.
The Dirty Rascals Weekender – October 3 and 4
Newnham Park in Plymouth will be the venue for a nicely varied two-day grass roots MTB festival this autumn.
The main event of the Dirty Rascals Weekender will be the Mondraker Gravity Rally on the Saturday, an enduro race taking in three of the best descents in the area over a 25km loop – with only the downhill bits timed.
There's also going to be an “off road sportive" in the form of the Hell Of The West – a challenging 70km ride across Dartmoor – plus a retro cross-country race for riders on bikes more than 20 years old.
Aspiring enduro racers might prefer to enter a mini-enduro being held on the Sunday morning - taking in three stages within the park as a more gentle introduction to this popular form of racing.