UK Cycling Tours
Challenge Central started out as a love of challenges with a passion to help ordinary people work together to push their limits and achieve more out of their lives.
Our initial challenges were all based around trekking; the first being the well-known 3 Peaks Challenge. However, over the last three years we have seen the participation numbers on our cycling challenges overtake the trekking participation by a significant margin.
The two most popular cycling tours we organise are the London to Paris Cycle and London to Amsterdam Cycle. These two weekend UK cycling tours start in the bustling capital city of London on Friday morning and finish in two of Europe’s most exciting cities.?
The London To Paris Cycle Tour
The London to Paris Cycling Tour is a 3-day, 195-mile cycle adventure with an average daily cycling distance of 65-miles per day. The route from London takes us south through Clapton Common, down through winding country roads to the coastal city of Brighton. The route certainly has its ups and downs, with Turners Hill and the mighty Ditchling Beacon being the stand out climbs.
After a fantastic decent from Ditchling to Brighton, there are a further 10 miles of costal bumps as the route follows the shore to the ferry port of Newhaven.
A rather brief ferry crossing of just 4 hours provides limited time to recover before the cycling tour continues to our next destination – Beauvais.
Personally, I find the first section of day two to be a bit of a slog, as it’s 35 miles of a single track. That said, it’s early and dark so an ideal time for a straight road. After breakfast, the cycling challenge just gets better and better with every section.
The French have a totally different perspective of road cyclists and it’s an absolute pleasure to cycle through the country. I wish I could say the same for the UK, but despite cycling being one of the fastest growing British sports, car drivers are nowhere near as tolerant or supportive as the French!
My favourite part of the London to Paris Cycle by some margin is the first section of day three. With an early start, the smooth and rolling roads are completely empty - a cyclist’s paradise. By day three, both the staff and participants have a good idea of the cycling pace of potential sub groups, which enables us to break off into mini cycling teams with staggered start times. The faster paced cyclists will start off later in the morning, which means we all arrive at breakfast in Pontoise around the same sort of time.
After the morning’s thrilling cycle section is complete, the cycle tour moves into the final push to the finish in Paris. Similar to cycling out of London, there is a limit to how fast we can safely cycle in a busy capital city but there are plenty of famous landmarks to take in between traffic lights in closing stages of the cycling challenge.
The London To Amsterdam Cycle Tour
The second of our most popular UK Cycling Challenges is London to Amsterdam. In contrast to London to Paris, this cycle tour is 145-miles over two days, giving a daily average of 72.5 miles of cycling per day. Although the distance is not broken evenly with a much longer day of cycling 83 miles on day one.
Unlike our cycle tour to Paris, London to Amsterdam is much flatter in comparison. For this reason, I choose this challenge to answer the common question of – “What’s easier, London to Paris or London to Amsterdam?”
Despite the long first day, the route is largely flat with no stand out climbs at all but certainly achievable with a sensible amount of cycling training under the belt. With the first day out of the way, the slow overnight ferry provides a good meal, comfortable sleep and a chance to recover.
As of 2016, we have improved day two of the London to Amsterdam Cycling Tour to take us through the heart of Amsterdam via the cities of The Hague and Leiden. Previously, we spent much more time on the coastal tracks, cycling through the dunes but our new routes offer more variety of the beauty of Holland’s environment and the Dutch lifestyle.
Which Cycling Tour Is For You?
If you are considering joining Challenge Central on one of our popular UK to Europe cycling tours but undecided which cycle challenge is for you, I have the following considerations to help make your decision....
If you are simply looking for the easiest cycle challenge to start with, then the flatness and long overnight ferry make the London to Amsterdam Challenge the obvious choice in my opinion.
For the best cycling, London to Paris is the easy winner. The rolling hills in particular on the afternoon of day two and the morning of day three are simply awesome.
If you’re looking for a more sociable and fun challenge, I think the Amsterdam cycle tour edges it. The ferry is equipped with bars, restaurants and a mini casino on day one, then the vibrant nightlife Amsterdam has to offer for the after party.
That said, London to Paris is not short of social interaction, particularly on the evening of day two with a restaurant that allows you to help yourself to unlimited alcohol!
In summary, both London to Paris and London to Amsterdam are great challenges that are achievable for anyone who puts their mind to it. The Amsterdam tour is marginally easier for the first tour but both cycle trips are challenging and enjoyable.