The world’s most famous cycling event, the Tour de France, kicks off this weekend for the 105th time in its history for a total of three weeks. Hence its name, the annual 21 stage race takes place in France, but it also occasionally passes or departs from nearby countries. Four years ago, the race departed from the northern English city of Leeds as it made its way through Yorkshire and down south until it reached mainland Europe.
The race takes place in the format of time trials across the country as the 198 riders make their way through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and Alps right until the finishing stage on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, clocking up a total distance of around 3500 kilometres! Now that’s one heck of a ride.
If you’re not much of a cyclist, but maybe looking to get into the sport, there are plenty of types of cycling which don’t involve climbing some of the highest altitudes in Europe! Read on to find out what other forms of cycling there are to be discovered.
Touring & Expedition Cycling
Bicycle touring can be one of the most liberating things you can do on two wheels, as you get to discover parts of the world you wouldn’t necessarily be able to with other modes of transport – touring is meant for pleasure and adventure, rather than sport and exercise. This means packing up some select belongings and taking yourself out onto the road for days, weeks, months or even years! If you’re new to touring, it’s probably best to start off with a tour consisting of a couple of days, before building up to anything relatively long term.
Commuting by bike can be one of the best ways to utilise the full potential of your bicycle. As you use your bicycle to travel from home to a place of work or study, you are positively contributing to your own health, the health of others – by not producing harmful emissions, as you would by a motor vehicle – and most importantly, to your own bank balance! In fact, in some countries, such as the Netherlands, commuting by bicycle is the norm as bikes are prioritised over other methods of transport such as the car.
This type of cycling really does hold something for everyone – from long endurance rides, mountainous climbs and short sprints to leisurely rides along the country lanes, road cycling is pretty adaptable. Getting out on the road forged the paths for many of Britain’s great cyclists such as Chris Boardman, Chris Froome and Lizzie Armitstead – look where they’re at now! However, it’s not all about endurance! You can simply enjoy road cycling as a leisurely pursuit, whether that’s out for a ride with the family, or if you’re trying to raise money for a charity, you’ll be amazed at the benefits road cycling brings – a healthier lifestyle, increased fitness levels, reducing emissions, all while saving those pennies!
Like road cycling, mountain biking is quite diverse as it offers a number of different styles of riding. Whether the endurance and technicality of cross-country attracts you, or if it’s more the speed and raw nerve of downhill racing, the explosive spectacle of four cross, or even if it’s just a family trail ride which tickles your fancy, mountain biking sure offers something for everyone. Whichever discipline you enjoy, mountain biking offers something completely different when compared to the other forms of cycling – being at one with nature, as you escape from the real world to find a selection of hills and trails made for mountain bikes.
Cycling really is a sport like no other, as these four very different types of cycling prove that there as a form for everyone, no matter where you are in the country! The UK provides some of the world’s best cycle routes, so what’s stopping you? Whether you are destined for the natural sightseeing of touring, to the city riding of commuting, or the freedom of the open road or even the mud and fun of mountain biking, there has never been a better time to get onto that saddle and go!