The Virgin Money Cyclone is the UK’s biggest cycling festival and continues to attract elite and amateur cyclists from all over the UK, as well as thousands of spectators. More than £500,000 has been raised for various charities since the event was created in 2007, and participant numbers have quadrupled.
For the first time this year, an extra event will take the previously three-day festival to four days, with the introduction of the Tyne Six Bridges Leisure Ride. This relaxed family event is aimed at less experienced riders.
Cyclists can choose between 10.5 or 15.5-mile traffic-free courses, using parts of the sustainable transport charity Sustrans national network of routes. These take riders along the north and south banks of the River Tyne, over six of its iconic bridges:
Participants will be able to view landmarks of the Tyne’s industrial heritage as well as more modern additions to the skyline such as The Metrocentre, The Sage Gateshead and the converted flour mill which now houses the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.
Friday evening’s Leazes Criteriums is a series of closed circuit events for riders of all ages and abilities. This part of the festival is a draw for hundreds of spectators as well as world and Olympic champion cyclists.
It starts with two youth races – U10/12 and U14/16. The supporting senior event is for regular racers who are not full time riders, and entrants must hold either a second, third or fourth category British Cycling licence. And the one-hour finale is a race for the best riders in the country, including Olympic and world medal winners.
Sunday sees The Curlew Cup return for a second year. A Women’s National Series Road Race, a whole host of elite female cyclists will ride 55.6 miles through some of Northumberland’s most picturesque villages. This will be followed by the 108-mile Beaumont Trophy Premier Calendar Road Race, using the same course as the 2011 Men’s National Road Race Championships, won by Bradley Wiggins.
But it is Saturday’s Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge Rides that are the festival’s crowning glory. Recognised as one of the UK’s premier cycling events, non-competitive cyclists can enjoy the countryside at their own pace, while more serious cyclists can test their fitness.
Part of the UCI Golden Wheel series, the Challenge rides feature three increasingly difficult routes ranging from 33 miles to 104, all starting and ending at the home of Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club.
The three distance routes
Serious contenders tackling the hills of the 104-mile route can aim for a series of recognised standards:
Also new for 2013 is the Hill Climb Challenge, recognising the male and female riders who achieve the speediest ascent of daunting Northumberland hill Bilsmoor.
By providing financial support to hold the Cyclone weekend, Virgin Money helps:
- thousands of cyclists and families to raise money for good causes or challenge themselves to become healthier
- provide spectators with a unique opportunity to see world-class athletes perform
- raise awareness of how Virgin Money works with its local communities to help good causes and make everyone better off
Our sponsorship of the Virgin Money Cyclone also means people can use Virgin Money Giving, our not-for-profit fundraising site which ensures all funds raised go to support good causes.
More than £500,000 has been raised for charity through Cyclone events and Virgin Money Giving is now the official not-for-profit sponsorship website for the festival. So, whether you can take part or not, you can still offer support by making a donation.