Celebrate the Alternative
In recent years there's been a bit of an explosion of alternative bike rides and competitions: events with themes that fly in the face of pro-cycling's stuffy image and inject a much-needed bit of silliness into cycling culture.
And these events have certainly caught the public's imagination in a big way: since the first Tweed Run took place in 2009, there seems to be no sign of this trend slowing.
So unless you want to feel left out, we reckon it's time you consider your quirkier cycling options for 2015. Which one will suit you best?
1. Dunwich Dynamo
Less quirky that just a bit, well... random. The Dunwich Dynamo is a hugely popular night ride from London to the Suffolk coast on the Saturday closest to the full moon in July.
It's not an 'organised' ride as there are no road closures or body overseeing it, but thousands of people turn up to ride with the Southwark Cyclists, making this the ultimate midsummer party for cyclists.
There's a great sense of camaraderie, food vans along the route and the pleasure of seeing hundreds of blinking bike lights in front of you. You can even go for a dip in the sea at the end, if you don't mind being freezing.
2. Tweed Run
Ah yes, the Tweed Run. What list of ridiculous bicycling events would be complete without it? Started by Londoners in 2009, the event has since been exported all over the globe and is always popular with cycling and vintage enthusiasts alike. It's essentially a tweed-loving bicycle catwalk, where people ride around London all day looking fabulous. There are multiple tea breaks and a picnic stop. It is, obviously, glorious.
The biggest Tweed Run happens in London, usually in May. Check the Tweed Run website for registration details closer to the time.
3. Red Bull Foxhunt
When someone first told me that the Red Bull Foxhunt was a thing, I didn't believe them. Because it is complete madness. Complete, wonderful madness.
You sign up to take park in a mass start, downhill mountain bike event. But the catch is that there's incredibly talented professional racer (in 2014's case it was Rachel Atherton), chasing you. If you get overtaken by the pro, you're out of the race.
The last few years have gone down excellently, and Red Bull's website tells us to get preparing for next year. Keep tuned to TWC for information on registering when we get it!
4. London Nocturne
The London Nocturne is a wonderful example of a bicycle race turning into a bit of a street party. Perhaps it's the fact that it's located smack bang in the City of London where the streets are narrow and the crowd are forced together.
Anyway, the event now has a bit of a reputation because it's so entertaining for people who aren't into cycling that much. As well as the professional races, there's also a folding bike race, a penny farthing race, and a Barclays cycle hire bike race. Keep an eye on the Nocturne site for details of registration and tickets for the 2015 event.
5. Rapha SuperCross
We had to include one Cross event in this list, because it's one side of cycling that refuses to take itself too seriously, and we appreciate that.
The Rapha SuperCross has been going for a few years now, and attendance at any part of the day will result in many frites, cowbells and beer-drinking for enthusiastic attendees. It's also family friendly with events and activities for kids. Oh, and there's a fun race that involves a foam machine and tequilla shortcut.That one is not for the kids so much.
There's a number of events in the SuperCross series in different areas of the globe including Japan, Australia, USA and Germany. As for in the UK, the first two rounds this year were held in Skipton, Yorkshire, before the finishing event at Alexandra Palace in London. Keep an eye on the Rapha website for details of the 2015 series.
Another vintage event, the L’Eroica is an annual bicycle ride in Tuscany. The landscapes are so beautiful that you might even forget how mental everyone looks in their pre-nineties cycle wear!
The people of Gaiole in Chianti organised the first event, designed to preserve and celebrate the landscape and culture of the region, and the heroic cyclists and bicycles of old.
But that doesn't make this a niche event. In fact, there were over 5,600 riders in 2014. There's often a bit of celebrity spotting to be done too with a chance to pull up alongside Marianne Vos or Pauline Ferrand-Prevot.
7. Brompton World Championship
We like to think that the people who run Goodwood Motor Circuit are still perplexed by the Brompton World Championship. 800 people on folding bikes, racing around the track in suits and ties, looking a bit silly? It's a distinctly cycling brand of madness, and we love it.
It's part of the Brompton Cycling Festival too, which includes more races, fun-times and general larks with the Brompton-owning community.Who could resist?!
8. World Naked Bike Ride
Taking part in a World Naked Bike Ride event is not for the faint hearted. There's no point in us pretending it's even mildly appropriate for those of you with heart conditions, or those who dislike mass nudity.
However, if you are healthy and love the idea of joining hundreds of naked people on a slightly awkward but totally celebratory ride through town, then you may have just found your ideal day out. You're welcome.
There's a variety of issues that the WNBR aims to protest against, but the main point of contention for activists is oil dependency and car culture. And, as everyone knows, the way to draw attention to an issue is to get naked. Bravo to these brave cyclists!
As implied by the title, these events happen all over the globe. But for information about the UK rides, and ones in your region, head on over to the UK WNBR site. In 2014, rides took place in Portsmouth, Canterbury, Hastings, Manchester, Southampton, Bristol, Brighton, Cardiff, London, Edinburgh, Oxford, York, Exeter, Folkestone and Clacton.
9. Tour de Fat
It was conceived as a means by which to put more citizens of the world on bicycles, and as an excuse to have a gigantic, wheely cool carnival with a lot of beer, theatre, art and cultural good-times. There are insane bicycles, unicycles and other automobiles, as well as a tonne of fancy-dress clad revellers. What else can we say? Watch this video and then book tickets to Colorado!
10. World MTB Chariot Racing Championship
Despite the idea behind this event being Roman in origin, we feel this event has a distinctly British feel. Held in conjunction with the Llanwrtyd Wells Real Ale Festival in Wales (awesome), the World MTB Chariot Racing Championship involves pedalling a chariot made of steel and rubber around a mountain bike course, in the middle of January.
The winning team will have to 'demonstrate exceptional skill and courage' in order to win the prize, according to the event's website.
The 2015 event takes place on 10th of January, so it's time to get organising. Where do we sign up? Via this link of course!