Top Overseas Cycling Sportives for Your 2019 Calendar

The sunshine is still hanging around in some parts of Europe, but it won’t be long until the indoor cycling season gets underway, and if you need some inspiration to get you through the next 3 months of spinning classes or home training on the roller, here are our Top 10 Overseas Cycling Sportives for your 2019 calendar:

Cycling Holidays 2019

  1. Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, 24th November 2018, New Zealand

Okay, we know we said 2019 sportives, but there is still time for one last hurrah this year with the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge in New Zealand. A fabulous one-day event with multiple different disciplines, it is suitable for all fitness levels, and it will give you the opportunity to escape Europe just as the ‘real’ winter begins.

  1. Cape Town Cycle Tour – 10th March 2019, South Africa

A fabulous one-day, 109km cycling event around the Western Cape peninsula, the Cape Town Cycle Tour 2019, previously the Cape Argus, is the perfect warm-up ride for the new year. With toasty temperatures and magnificent cycling routes around the city, Cape Town is the perfect destination for a spring cycling holiday, so why not join the 35,000 others next March, and start your season in style.

  1. Tour of Flanders – 6th April 2019, Belgium

Follow in the footsteps, or should that be cycle path, of the world’s greatest athletes on the non-pro version of the Tour of Flanders. A partly cobbled circuit strictly limited to 16,000 entrants, this one day classic attracts riders from all over the world. Four route options available.

  1. Mallorca 312 – 27th April 2019, Mallorca Spain

If you don’t mind the crowds, the Mallorca 312 is a fabulous one-day sportive on the sun-drenched island of Mallorca. There are three different routes available, the 167km, the 225km and the 312km, and surprisingly, you can decide on route how far you would like to go. All entrants start at the same time, although you need to meet certain cut-off points if you intend to cycle the longer routes, and the event starts and finishes in Playa de Muro.

  1. Nove Colli (Nine Hills) – 19th May 2019, Cesenatico Italy

The original sportive and the classic Italian Gran Fondo, the Nove Colli or Nine Hills has been running since the early 1970s, and yet it continues to grow in popularity year after year. Entries are limited to 13,000, and they sell out in minutes, and while it’s a demanding route with gradients of up to 20%, all types of riders are invited to take part. PS: Entries open TODAY!!

  1. Vätternrunden – 15th June 2019, Motala Sweden

Describing itself as “the world’s largest recreational cycling event” the Vätternrunden in Sweden is a true icon in the international sportives calendar. A 300km route around Lake Vättern, this Swedish Classic offers breath-taking scenery and attracts cyclists from 50 different nations. Registration is open now and closes on 22nd October, so you need to act now if you are to secure your place for 2019.

  1. La Marmotte – 7th July 2019, Alpe d’Huez France

No sporting calendar would be complete without La Marmotte, and every cyclists should attempt this mountain sportive at least once in their lives. Tackling the four classic climbs of the Tour de France, this toughie attracts 7,500 riders each year, who battle it out over 174km and 5,000 altimeters – phew! Once again, registration is open now – so get cracking!

  1. Arlberg Giro – 4th August 2019, St. Anton Austria

It might not be one of the most famous sportives on the list, but is certainly one of the most enjoyable, and if you are looking for a well-priced cycling event in Europe next summer, the Arlberg Giro could be the perfect choice.  Including a few famous Austrian Passes such as Montafon and Silvretta, this one day race will see you climb 2,500 meters over 150km, but the scenery is so beautiful, you won’t even notice your climbing… okay, maybe exaggerating a little bit there! Sign up before 31st December 2018, and you’ll get entry plus a complimentary cycle jersey by JAKROO for just €43 – bargain!

  1. Öztal Cycle Marathon – 1st September 2019, Sölden, Austria

Described as the toughest sportive in Europe, the Öztaler Radmarathon is a 238km route with over 5,500 meters of elevation. There is only one route, there are strict cut-off guidelines in place, and many a grown man has cried tackling the final climb of Timmelsjoch – referred to as ‘Il Mostro’ or ‘The Monster’ by Italians. In the Austrian alps at this time of the year, anything can happen, and snowfall is not uncommon, so this one’s definitely not for the fainthearted!

  1. Giro Del Lago – November 2019, Puerto Varas Chile

See out 2019 in style with the Giro del Lago in Puerto Varas, Chile. A relatively new event, but one that has already attracted quite a following, it includes a 168km loop around Lake Llanquihue with a modest 2,040 metres of elevation. Limited to just 1,500 entries, this is by no means a big sportive, but if you ever fancied cycling in Patagonia (who doesn’t), then this could be the perfect starting point for your Chilean Cycling Adventure.

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Packing Your Bike for Travel: Airline Bike Policies

Packing your bike for an overseas sportive may seem like a bit of a hassle, but it will make all the difference on race day, and providing you have a good bike box or bag, and the knowledge to rebuild your bike when you arrive at your final destination, there is no reason why you shouldn’t take your bike with you on every cycling holiday.

Rental bikes are not all bad, in fact, some of them are very good indeed, but if you are heading to a huge event such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour in South Africa,  where demand (and prices) are high, you could end up paying a huge sum of money for a sub-standard rental bike, more than you would pay to transport your own.

All airlines allow you to transport your bike, either as part of your checked luggage allowance or for a special premium, so there’s really no need to leave it behind. If you don’t want to splash out on a Scicon bike bag or hardcase bike box, you can get a cardboard one free of charge from almost any bike shop, and providing you use plenty of bubble wrap, your bike should arrive in the exact same condition in which you packed it.

While all airlines have different policies when it comes to transporting your bike, here is an overview of the most popular international airlines:

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • With British Airways, your bike can travel as your checked baggage allowance.
  • The standard baggage allowance in Economy is 23kg, but not all BA tickets include baggage, so you should check this when booking your flight.
  • You can only check-in one piece of baggage. So even if your bike box weighs less than 23kg, you CANNOT check in another bag to make up the difference, unless you pay for it.
  • If you want to check in both a bike box and a suitcase, you need to purchase an extra piece of checked baggage, which currently costs £60 per bag per way – so £120 roundtrip for your bike.
  • Providing your bike box does not exceed the maximum dimensions listed on the BA website, you do not need to advise the airline that you are transporting a bike prior to travel. You can simply turn up at the airport and check-in as normal.

EMIRATES

  • Emirates also allow you to transport your bike as part of your checked baggage allowance.
  • This airline uses both weight concept and piece concept baggage regulations, and so you really need to find out what your allowance is before booking your flight ticket.
  • If it is on weight concept, you will most likely have a checked baggage allowance of 30kg. In this instance, you can check in both a bike box and a suitcase providing they do not weigh more than 30kg combined, or exceed the maximum dimensions listed in the Emirates website.
  • If you flight ticket includes piece concept baggage regulations, then you can only check in the number of bags indicated. So, if your ticket includes 1 piece, you can only check in a bike box OR a suitcase.
  • You need to contact Emirates at least 24-hours prior to your flight if you intend to transport your bike as checked baggage. We recommend doing it the moment you book your flight.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, have excess baggage with Emirates. They charge $160 USD for just 5 kilos extra, and upwards of $250 USD to check in an extra bag.

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Until recently, Virgin Atlantic allowed you to transport your bike free of charge, but this is no longer the case. You can now transport it as part of your checked baggage allowance, which is 23kg in Economy.
  • You can only check-in one piece of baggage and cannot pool the weight across your bike bag and suitcase.
  • If you want to check in both your bike box and a suitcase, you’ll need to purchase an extra piece of checked baggage at £65 per piece per way, so £130 roundtrip for your bike.
  • Providing your bike meets Virgin Atlantic’s size and weight guidelines, you do not need to inform the airline that you are transporting a bike prior to travel. Simply proceed to the airport and check in as normal.

KLM / AIR FRANCE

  • KLM and Air France do not allow you to transport your bike as part of any baggage allowance, you must always pay a fee for the privilege.
  • Their current long-haul rate is 100 Euros per bike per way, so 200 Euros roundtrip for your bike.
  • You have to let them know when booking your flight ticket that you want to transport your bike. If you book your flight ticket directly on their website, you should be able to do this during the booking process. If you are booking through a travel agent, let them know that you intend to take your bike with you so that they can add it to your booking.

TURKISH AIRLINES

  • Turkish Airlines allow you to transport your bicycle as your checked baggage allowance, which is generally 23kg in Economy.
  • You can only check-in one piece of luggage and cannot share the weight across your bike box and suitcase.
  • If you want to take a bike box and a suitcase, you will need to pay extra for your bike.
  • Turkish Airlines charge a per sector fee, rather than a per way fee for bikes. Therefore, if you are travelling from London to Cape Town via Istanbul, you will pay €30 per sector from London to Istanbul, and €60 per sector from Istanbul to Cape Town, totalling €90 per way, and €180 roundtrip. Complex? Yes!
  • You must advise Turkish Airlines prior to departure if you intend to transport your bike.

Please note, the above is just for reference and can change at any time. Please contact the airline for up-to-date rules and pricing.

 

 

 

 

Road Cycling Holidays Patagonia: Off the Beaten Track and into Nature

Patagonia remains a Bucket List destination for many, and rightly so. It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, and while most cycling activities have been strictly limited to off road Mountain Bike Trails in the past, the road networks in Chile are improving by the day, so much so, that Road Cycling Holidays in Patagonia are now possible.

Shared by Argentina and Chile, Patagonia is the perfect place for a multi-destination holiday, but due to the sheer size of it, and the logistics involved in combining the two, most organised cycling tours stick to one country or the other. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. After cycling to your heart’s content, you can extend your stay with a trip to Ushuaia, the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier, or even go hiking in Torres del Paine National Park.

Flying between Argentina and Chile is very easy and providing you don’t have to ship your bike between destinations, it’s very affordable too. Most recommended cycling companies in Patagonia will give you the option to rent a good quality road bike for the duration of your cycling holiday, which definitely makes travelling easier if you plan to move around.

Budget wise, Chile is the most economical option for a cycling holiday at the moment, and with endless National Parks, rainforests, fjords, and snow-capped mountains to keep you entertained, there really is something for everyone. Cycling around Chile’s Lake District remains a popular choice, as does cycling the Carretera Austral, and there are more than a few knee-trembling volcanoes and mountain passes to climb – perfect for those who are looking for a challenge!

Available from October to March each year, Patagonia Cycling Holidays are perfect for those who are looking to combine great cycling with stunning landscapes, great food, and exceptional Chilean wines. It really is a destination quiet unlike any other, and one of just a few places in the world where you can really bicycle beyond…