Christmas Themed Bike Rides Around The UK

There's no reason to plant yourself on the sofa throughout Christmas - here are some great rides to keep you active!

Deck your bike with boughs of tinsel, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-laaaa*. Because we all know the tinsel tree only bears fruit for a brief time each year, we must make the most of its spangly bounty before the reindeer eat it all. And so it is, just for you, we’ve crept into Santa’s grotto and interrogated the elves to find the best tinsel groves accessible by bike across the UK. In other words we’ve scoured the web for some festive themed rides, for your Christmas enjoyment.

And yes, we know the usual excuses: parties, roast dinner, hang over, blah blah blah, so if the prospect of fresh air and exercise isn’t enough, surely the option of wearing fancy dress while cycling is. So, to help you shake out that fuzzy Christmas head when the time really comes, don your thermal underlayers, festive overlayers (daft Christmas-themed headgear optional), and get out there on two wheels.

Christmas might seem a little way away to some of you – but all of these rides require sign-up – and some are actually close to capacity, so get booking to ensure you get to enjoy an awesome festive ride in a few weeks time! We’ve provided a link for each ride to help you out.

*Don’t let tinsel get in the way of a good time and check decorations won’t get caught in your wheels as you ride along. Also: don’t drink and ride – sip the sherry responsibly.

Featured image: Dave Schlabowske

Strongher X-Mas Ride: Worldwide 

Where/when: The Chilterns, Hertfordshire; Bedford; Richmond Park to Windsor Castle, and more!

When: Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th December

How long: All around 50-60m (80-100km) at 15-16mph (20-25kph)

Type of bike: Road

Web: See below for individual links

Strongher is the women’s cycling initiative led by Marianne Vos and a host of ambassadors – and the Christmas-themed rides will be led by an said ambassadors. There are a variety of rides already organised – but if there’s nothing near you, the team at Strongher invite you to to create your own Christmas ride, just email ride details to [email protected].

On 19 December ultra-endurance cyclist Shusanah Pillinger, aka the first woman to complete the infamous Race Across America, will lead a 100km (weather dependent) spin out into the gorgeous Chilterns to Christmas Common in Oxfordshire – details here.

On 20 December Kingston Wheelers’ Deborah Liew will head a peloton of (possibly) reindeer-horned riders on a 50 miler (15/16mph, no-one dropped) from Richmond Park to Windsor, with a café stop at the end – more info here.

Also on 20 December, Eva Baloti-Couvara leads a preferably fancy dressed group on an Xmas ride 60 miles out from Russel Park, Bedford (14-16mph) – details here.

TPM Santa Express

Where: Manchester (starts at the National Cycling Centre)

When: Sunday 20 December 9.15am

How long: 20 miles (4 hrs 15, 3 hrs 45 of cycling)

Web: Here

What: Team Potty Mouth’s (TPM) annual Santa ride will start from the National Cycling Centre, leaving behind it a trail of glitter into Manchester town centre, with a break in Media City and a dip into the Christmas markets on the way. The ride will follow canal towpaths, cycle paths and some on-road sections, so hybrids or mountain bikes are recommended.

Come dressed as Santa, an elf, a reindeer or anything Christmassy that takes your fancy. We’re not sure where TPM gets its name but we expect riders will be on their best behaviour to stay in Santa’s good books. There were nine places remaining when we checked so get your (ice) skates on.

Santa Express Fancy Dress Charity Ride

Where: Newport (starts at the National Wales Velodrome, NP18 4RB)

When: Sunday 20 December

How long: 24 miles (five hours; four cycling)

Type of bike: Hybrid or mountain bike

Web: Here

Bring your Christmas spirit along to this festive tour of Newport, courtesy of Newport Social Cycling, taking in Tredegar House, Royal Gwent Hospital and Newport Retail Park, presumably for last minute gifts, along the way. After that riders are free to go all “lone reindeer” at a pace of their choosing along Queensway Road and towards Seawall tearooms for a well-earned cuppa. Last one there’s a scrooge.

Decorate yourself and your bike as Christmassy as you dare. As the ride name suggests, money will be raised for charity, this year to St Davids Hospice, which provides palliative care free of charge in Wales.

Mince Pie Festive Fun Ride

Image: Sir Chris Hoy and Evans Cycles

Where: Portsmouth (Starting and finishing at Southsea Cycles, Albert Road)

When: Sunday 20 December 2015 at 10am

How long: Nine miles (2 hours; 1.45 cycling)

Type of bike: Hybrid or mountain bike

Web: Here.

You’re not guaranteed to see Santa’s reindeer on this nine mile Christmassy jaunt along Pompey’s seafront but you might see the reindeer of the sea, aka seals, beside the RNLI Portsmouth lifeboat station, which is well worth getting out in the cold for, in our books.

The ride starts and finishes at the organisers’ bike shop, Southsea Cycles, before heading for the South coast, then following the esplanade. After a bit of seal spotting, you’ll double back to Clarence Pier before returning for a free mince pie, a cuppa and chin-wag at the shop.

Bristol Christmas Chocolate Special

Where: Bristol (starts at M-Shed, Princes Wharf, Bristol Wapping Road, BS1 4RN)

When: Sunday 20 December 2015 at 10am

How long: Five miles (1 hr 30mins)

Type of bike: Hybrid or mountain bike

Web: Here

If you’ve been dying to get relatives into cycling, and find yourself in Bristol the Sunday before Christmas, this could be the perfect opportunity. No matter their age or cycling ability this five mile, mostly traffic-free saunter, with a promise of hot chocolate at the city’s Christmas markets at the end, is enough to tempt even the staunchest festive couch potato.

To keep in theme, the ride takes in Bristol’s riverside chocolate path, so called because its paving looks like little squares of, yes you guessed it. Tinsel-attired bikes welcome (though maybe not tinsel a-tyred – that would be dangerous).

Whalley Winter Wonderland


Where: Clitheroe, Lancashire (Saint Augustine’s RC High School, BB7 9JA)

When: Wednesday 23rd December 2015 at 10am

How long: 29 miles

Type of bike: Hybrid or road bike

Web:  Here

Following the edge of the festive wonderland that is the Forest of Bowland, this 29 miler will take in picturesque villages decked with boughs of holly and tinsel, to get you in the festive spirit and stretch those legs before the main festivities begin.

At a steady pace of 10-12mph you’ll meet some hills but no-one will be left behind. The group, led by a local Skyride Ride Leader, call themselves Friendly Cyclists – they are about enjoying themselves and the company – and they always stop for tea and cake. As with all rides make sure your bike is in good working order before setting out, or you’ll be on Santa’s naughty list.

Southwark Cyclists’ Christmas Day Ride

Image: London Cycling Campaign

Where: Cutty Sark Gardens (beside the entrance to the Greenwich foot tunnel)

When: Friday 25th December – yes, Christmas day! 10am

How long: 10 miles (four hours in total, 1 hr 30mins’ cycling)

Type of bike: Mountain bike, hybrid, road bike

Web: Details here; book here

Now in its fifteenth year, Southwark Cyclists’ annual Christmas Day Ride is ostensibly to commemorate the time Queen Victoria turned up at Blackadder’s house for festive celebrations unrecognised but it’s good for anyone after a Christmas morning spin.

You won’t be alone – legend has it more than 100 people have turned up on Christmases past. Speaking of which, the route traverses some famous spots in Southwark and Camden relating to Charles Dickens’ (because, A Christmas Carol). You’ll also visit a no doubt sparkly Covent Garden and Leicester Sq, before riding up the Mall towards the Queen’s house. Dressing up is encouraged, just remember to dress warm, and bring tools and spares.

The London Fixed Gear and Single Speed forum also runs a Christmas Day ride, titled Waifs and Strays IX, starting from Oxford Circus station at 9am on Christmas morning.


The Christmas Cracker sportive

Where: Surrey (starts at Cobham Village Hall, KT11 2LU)

When: Sunday 27th December

How long: 50 miles (cut off time is 5 hrs 30 mins)

Type of bike: road

Web: Here

When you think of a post-Christmas challenge you might be thinking January, February at the earliest, but why not get a headstart, i.e. the day after Boxing Day?

It might be just the incentive you need not to overindulge on Christmas day, and a brisk 50 miler is a guaranteed de-stressing agent after being cooped up at home with the rellies. The event’s to raise money for charity Bike4Cancer and the entry fee is £27.50 (you can also make a further charitable donation). For that you’ll get chip timing, a mid-ride feed, cushty ride HQ, and a rolling road mechanic along a clearly marked route. And a broom wagon, if those mince pies weigh you down too much.

Whatever you decide to do – have an amazing time! If you’re still shopping for those all important gifts, check out our gift guides for roadies, mountain bikers andcommuters – we’re sure you’ll find something you love!


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