Cyclists live for a challenge. It’s in their blood to go further and faster than they did the last time. And with cycling fever set to grip the UK this year through the grand starts of the Giro d’Italia in Belfast and the Tour de France – the greatest free sporting event on the planet – in Yorkshire, we pick three traditional long-distance challenges that literally cover the length and breadth of mainland UK. Tens of thousands of riders complete these challenges every year – will you be one of them?
Up to 15,000 people a year complete the 140-mile route from Whitehaven in Cumbria to South Shields on Tyneside. And it’s not hard to understand why, given the stunning landscapes of the Eden Valley, the pristine and remote Northern Pennines and the Durham Dales.
It’s a popular challenge for new cyclists, thanks to the manageable distance that’s usually split with an overnighter near Alston and the quiet roads, lanes and cycle paths the route follows. It’s no picnic though: the route’s highest point is over 2,000ft (600m), and riders should ensure their kit’s in order as there are some rugged off road sections.
Roughly 440 miles separate the two capitals, so doubling the distance is a big ask in anyone’s books. Outside of the world famous 870-mile Paris-Brest-Paris, the L-E-L is one of the most prestigious long-distance routes in the world. Every four years since 1989, riders have tackled an official version of the out-and-back course. Last year almost 1,000 riders had a tilt and the fastest finisher was a Dutch rider, Anco de Jong, who completed the event in around 65 hours. The event might not be running this year, but there’s no reason why riders can’t get in some practice…
LeJog (Land’s End – John O’Groats)
An altogether grittier challenge that attracts thousands of dedicated charity riders and sleep-avoiding endurance athletes, this is the big one: Land’s End to John O’Groats. Nothing comes close to capturing the imagination of the route, aka LeJog or End to End, and thousands take on the 900-mile-plus mile route from the tip of Cornwall to the northern most point of mainland Scotland. There are records galore for those who fancy adding jeopardy to their challenge but they’re tough proposition. According to Guinness World Records, the fastest time for the point to point on a regular bike is 44 hours, 4 minutes and 19 seconds, and was set by Gethin Butler 13 years ago.
For extra madness, why not turn your LeJog into LeJogLe and ride back down to Cornwall?!
Long-distance cycling challenges tend to require support vehicles, as these challenges can often be unpredictable - and the all-new Mazda3 is the perfect choice to provide riders with all the back up they need. Comfortable, spacious and efficient, the all-new Mazda3 is built for long-distance driving; and thanks to a wealth of in-car technology, support crews have all they need to keep them focused as they make their way to the next destination in style. With excellent efficiency - up to 72.4mpg* – it is an endurance specialist, worthy of any rider tackling big distance challenges. The all-new Mazda3 is the first Mazda to offer internet connectivity through your smartphone, giving you access to internet radio, Facebook and Twitter**. So you or driving companion can remain connected to all essential news as it happens, and not be diverted from your ride.
Cyclists will also be grateful for the haven of comfort the car provides after an arduous day in the saddle - whether that ride has been a 120-mile epic or a short, intense blast on their local roads. Whatever the challenge, the decision is yours, but if you’re looking for consistency, the car stays the same.
Check out all-new Mazda3 here.
*Mazda3 150ps Fastback Diesel (6-speed manual). The MPG figures quoted are sourced from official EU-regulated test results obtained through laboratory testing. These are provided for comparability purposes only and may not reflect your actual driving results.
**Requires compatible Apple® or Android™ device. Aha™ / Sticher™ app needs to be downloaded to mobile device and app registration completed before connection. Data usage and calls will vary, please contact your network provider for more info. Data usage relies on a valid signal being available. These functions may not operate in areas of low signal strength.