Kevin Mayne - Challenge Rides
25 May 2004

Kevin Mayne is a member of Reading CC. He is much better known as Director of the CTC, the UK's national cyclists' organisation. Kevin runs the organisation that leads national campaigns for cyclist's rights, and provides services like insurance and accident advice. In the winter he is a regular on the Reading CC club runs but from the spring onwards he tends to disappear to ride a wide range of cycling events all over the country.

British club cyclists are becoming regulars at French and Italian 'sportif' or 'gran fondo' events. These are mass participation single-day rides presenting a severe challenge. The most famous is l'Etape du Tour, in which the public gets to ride a Tour de France stage a few days before the race itself.

Kevin has some news about some similar events being organised by the CTC:"In the last three years CTC has set up a series of distinctive challenge rides which we hope will build into classics along the lines of the best French sportifs or Italian Grand Fondos. 'Phil & Friends' is named after cycling commentator Phil Liggett, who chose the 150km (92 mile) route through his favourite Peak District climbs. I rode the first in 2001 about a
month after I completed L'Etape du Tour in the Pyrenees, and I am sure Phil's route was harder. This was even more the case in 2001 when I rode the 60 mile version on a tandem with my son.

"Phil & Friends is on August 1st . This year it is the opening event for a family cycling week based in the same area, so an even shorter option has been added. There are other cycling challenges this year. The Ron Kitching Classic on June 26 goes from York up into the North York Moors. The climbs of White Horse Bank and Rosedale Chimney are real
classics. It is based in the York Rally weekend, a cyclists' heaven with displays, rides, grass track racing and one of the biggest cycle sales tents in the country. One trip here can set you up in spares for the next year!

The Southern Challenge on 12th September is run in partnership with the Surrey League road racing organisation. It starts in East Grinstead and goes over some of the roads used when the Tour de France came to Britain in 1994.

Kevin described his own cycling. "While my day job is thinking about people who might find cycling a mile hard work, my hobby has always been club cycling. This helps me get out and meet cyclists all over the country at local and national events, an important part of my job. I am not fast enough to race these days, but with reasonable fitness and low gears I love routes chosen for me by people who really know their cycling, especially hilly routes."

"The rides I go to are usually run by CTC groups or Audax UK. Here in Reading we are extremely well placed because we are in reach of the full Reading CTC calendar and events run across several counties. There is a perception in racing circles that CTC means a slow or easy ride. This may be the case with local weekly rides, but open events allow for a range of abilities and speeds. 200 hilly kilometres at 16mph is a great ride for
serious club group, especially with two or three café stops, but I do rides from 35 to 90 miles where I am attracted by the route. My son Ben has just completed his first solo 100km at the age of 12, something he is very proud of, taking full advantage of the 10mph speed allowance.

"As a step up I rode my first 400km last year, from Chalfont across to the Wye Valley and back, a 21 hour ride finishing at around 2am. I was very pleased to get round in a good time. You see the whole world in a different way when you have to climb Goring Hill at midnight!"

For more information go to the CTC website, or Reading CTC at

Roderick MacFadyen
Reading Cycling Club Press Secretary