The Cotswolds may not be home to scores of professional riders or dozens of races every weekend, but it’s rich in heritage. Here’s how to sample it for yourself.
Tackle Dover’s Hill
This famous hill in the north Cotswolds has hosted the national hill-climb championships seven times, most recently in 2010 when Dan Fleeman flew up in a time of 3-41. A mile long with an average gradient of 10 per cent, riders have to start off at full pelt and simply try to hang on for as long as possible. On race day the top is littered with hypoxic riders collapsed on the side of the road.
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Watch the 2016 Aviva Womens’ Tour stage two
Professional bike races seldom visit the Cotswolds, but the second stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour will culminate with a tricky Cotswolds finish on June 16. Heading southwest from Warwickshire through the northernmost spur of the Cotswolds, from Edgehill towards Brailes Hill and on through Shipston on Stour, the 140km stage culminates with a short, sharp climb of Nebsworth Hill out of the village of Ilmington and a final dash to the finish in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Part of the inaugural Women’s WorldTour, the race will attract the sport’s biggest names.
Ride the climbs of the Tour of the Cotswolds
Full of typically tough climbs and with a 200m final straight on grassy parkland, for 50 years the Tour of the Cotswolds was one of the most gruelling road races in Britain. Past winners include Phil Griffiths, John Tanner, Colin Sturgess, Les West and – believe it or not – Pat McQuaid, who would go on to become president of the UCI. Sadly the final edition was run in 2001, although you can still tackle many of the race’s climbs located just to the east of Gloucester, such as Birdlip and Fiddler’s Elbow.
Visit Snowshill Manor museum
Home to an extensive collection of rare historic bicycles, penny-farthings and early velocipedes, Snowshill Manor is a mecca for historians of the bicycle. However they are just one small part of the extraordinary collection of over 22,000 objects amassed by Charles Paget Wade, who filled his manor house to such an extent that he eventually had to move into a cottage in the garden. The house is now owned by the National Trust, which preserves it in the state left by Wade when he left it to them in 1951.
Race at Castle Combe
This historic motor-racing circuit hosts regular cycle racing and training throughout the summer. Competitions take place every Thursday evening from May to July, with events promoted by the Castle Combe Road Race League. Meanwhile local cycling club Chippenham Wheelers run regular training sessions for all abilities on a Tuesday evening throughout the summer.
Ride the route of the 2014 Tour of Britain
This was the terrain where Michal Kwiatkowski stamped his mark on the 2014 Tour of Britain less than a month before winning the rainbow jersey in Spain. To try the 184.6km route for yourself, leave Worcester and head south via the Malvern Hills and past the market town of Evesham. After the popular tourist hotspot of Broadway things get serious; climb up Snowshill and two further leg-breakers that weren’t even classified by the race: Cleeve Hill and Leckhampton Road. Stop off for a bite to eat in Stroud before climbing out via Horsley Hill, then following the River Frome before the searing ascent up Bridge Valley Road.
Taking the family on a trip to the Cotswolds? The BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer is the perfect companion. This flexible seven-seater with allows you to manage your luggage space and legroom as required.
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