Put a new spin on a familiar city and discover the North East’s own ‘secret county’ when the 2015 Virgin Money Cyclone Festival of Cycling arrives June 19 – 21.
The three-day cycling festival, one of the most respected in the country, doesn’t just provide participants and spectators with a thrilling ride, but a taste of the county’s very best countryside and iconic city sights.
Relish a turn across the historic River Tyne, jump on your bike and soak up sunset views of Newcastle’s infamous six bridges with the Tyne Six Bridges Leisure Ride. With traffic-free 10.5 and 15.5 mile routes, it’s a great way to see the impressive structures and a fitting excuse to get the family and riders of all abilities together on their bikes. Pedal to a relaxed waterfront finish at Newcastle’s own Cycle Hub and experience northern hospitality at its best as local producers and performers showcase the best of the city. Or pick up the pace with a go at Rollapaluza racing.
From Friday night frivolity to the promise of a full weekend, visitors looking to sample some of Northumberland’s most stunning countryside will not be disappointed by the route of the Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge rides. Known as the secret county, Northumbria’s rolling hills create a suitably dramatic backdrop for a personal cycling challenge in one of the three distances – 34, 64 and 106 miles. Pass through villages like Kirkhale and Matfen, contender for VisitEngland Large Hotel of the Year, stopping along the route or basing yourself there to ride, spectate and explore at your own pace.
Take your camera along for those relaxed rest breaks in towns like historic Bellingham, with its train carriage tearooms, or push through to set a new personal best and celebrate the day’s achievements at a favourite countryside pub. St Mary’s Inn puts the village of Morpeth on the foodie map, an emphasis on local and own-grown produce making for a menu of impressive favourites. Make a night of it with a stargazing turn at the Dark Sky Park, Europe’s largest area of protected night sky.
On Sunday it’s a chance for visitors to return to their favourite spot to watch some of the top UK and international cyclists race parts of the same Challenge ride route in elite events the Curlew Cup, a Women’s National Series Road Race, and the hotly contested UCI Beaumont Trophy, claimed twice by Sir Bradley Wiggins. Don’t miss a ploughman’s lunch or take-home treats from the cycle-friendly Northumberland Cheese Company café.
Visitors fortunate to have more than a long weekend to experience the area will have plenty left to see as the Virgin Money Cyclone draws to a close on Sunday evening. Swap two wheels for four and take to Northumberland’s spectacular protected coastline. The 40 mile stretch of sand and surf is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and includes ramblers’ favourite, the North Sea Trail, as well as regal Bamburgh Castle which stands guard over the shore.
The Virgin Money Cyclone Festival of Cycling returns to Newcastle and Northumberland June 19 – 21. For full event information and to register yourself or a team, visit www.virginmoneycyclone.co.uk