We’ve put together a list of the very best events and trips you can look forward in spring 2018.
These aren’t just rides to make the most of the weather getting better, but experiences you can only have if you adventure abroad in the first few months of the year.
Alice Springs, Australia
“Go hard or go home” was the thinking behind our first suggestion – it’s pretty hardcore. If you are really looking to impress your friends and to get off the beaten track, you can’t do much better than Easter in the Alice. How many people do you know who have completed a three-day marathon mountain bike stage race through the Australian outback?
The event takes in over 150 km of wide desert fire road and tricky, rocky single track around the town of Alice Springs, right in the centre of Australia.
The biggest contributor to the economy in Alice Springs is tourism – primarily in nature and wildlife tours – so there is plenty to do in your down time. Kangaroos and Ayers Rock look even better from the saddle.
“Does this really count as a spring event since it will be autumn in Australia?”, we hear you ask. Maybe not, but the Australians will be celebrating the chance to get back out on their mountain bikes again after ‘suffering’ through ‘inclement’ weather: the only difference is they have been roasting away while we’ve been huddling together for warmth.
If it all sounds a bit much and you’d rather have an MTB ramble followed by a bit of sightseeing and a barbie, then the Easter Mini event might be more up your street. It’s still a three day stage race, but just 20km riding per day.
Cape Town, South Africa
If you like are liking the sound of the southern hemisphere and long-distance mountain biking, but you’re worried Alice Springs might be a little too remote, take a look at the Cape Epic: similar idea, but in Cape Town. This event is incredibly popular with our customers (and staff) each year.
Billed as the biggest cycling race in the world, as many as 35,000 riders take on the 100km. To put it in perspective, that’s more than double the number of riders who will take on L’Etape du Tour during the summer.
The race takes competitors from the city centre along Nelson Mandela Boulevard, past the entrance to the Cape of Good Hope, and into Table Mountain National Park. It is a truly stunning route.
Don’t let videos of last year put you off entering. While the Cape tour has a reputation for being a windy race, last year’s cancellation was a one-off in its 40 year history.
The most storied challenges for road cyclists – and this author’s favourite races to watch – are the Spring Classics in France and Belgium.
Highly recommended is the Gent-Wevelgem sportive, a historic race across Flanders which sees amateur racers take on the iconic cobbled Kemmelberg climb. Have a look at our Cobbled Classic survival guide for all the advice you need to conquer the pavé and finish your ride in one piece.
Riding the Gent-Wevelgem sportive also gives you the opportunity to visit and stay in the beautiful historic city, one of cycling’s spiritual homes playing host to the annual Gent Six track cycling week.
One of Europe’s largest cities during the middle ages, Gent’s narrow cobbled streets are stuffed with hundreds of years of history, and offer one of the best selections of pubs serving Belgian beer you are ever likely to find. Perfect for a recovery pint or three.
The cobbled classics take place throughout the spring, and for an alternative to Gent, have a look at contributor Phil Peter’s account of the Leige-Bastogne-Liege sportive.
Spring is arguably the most beautiful season to visit Japan because of the blooming of the famous cherry blossoms – sakura – one of Japan’s most beloved symbols. Despite being only the size of California, this wonderful country offers mountains, coastlines, rolling hills, bamboo forests and so much more
Japan Biking have a range of guided tours and itineraries to help you experience this variety, such as their Cherry Blossom Hot Springs Tour, starting and ending in Izumi. After a day of leisurely sightseeing on the bike, a trip to a traditional onsen (hot spring) is the perfect way to unwind.
Alternatively, why not get a head start on the pros and cycle around Mount Fuji? The cycling route for the 2020 Olympic games is set to pass the iconic volcano, so a three-day route passing through West Tokyo, Lake Yamanaka and Ito City is a great option.
As with Japan, a cycling tour is a fantastic way to experience true local culture that you can often miss out on when visiting typical tourist traps. You also won’t be constantly passing streams of fellow road cyclists that almost become part of the scenery in some of the Med’s most popular cycling haunts this time of year.
China Adventure Tours offer guided tours around the area, such as this two week trip, which also includes hiking as well as testing climbs on the bike. The challenge of cycling in the Sichaun region comes from the extreme altitude in parts as you head into Tibetan villages and mountainous areas, but the rewards are plentiful. Explore varied landscapes of lush meadows, hilly pastures and of course plenty of the local cuisine, and maybe even spot the rare Giant Panda!