We love a home-town hoe-down, we do. Which is why we're very glad to report that the Bike Bath festival will be back for 2013. All the action will be on the weekend of 22–23 June, and registration is now open via the website, www.bikebath.co.uk
If you missed us wittering on about it last year, then a recap: Bike Bath is a weekend of bike-based fun, based around two sportives on the Saturday (south towards the Mendips) and Sunday (north to the Costwolds). There's a range of distances up to 100 miles, and anyone finishing the longest distance on both days will receive the accolade of "Bath Gladiator" and a hat tip from us; there's some nasty hills on both rides, as well as some majestic views of the best bit of the country. Well, we're biased.
Last year the weekend opened with an evening of talks from Graeme Obree, Rob Penn and Ben Rockett with a pasta meal prepared by Michelin starred chef Rob Clayton. This year the format will be slightly different, with the event based at the Rugby Club and taking place on the Saturday after the first ride. Speakers will be confirmed nearer the time but if last year is anything to go by it'll be an informative evening...
There's other changes too. The organisers hope to include a 40-mile MTB ride on the Friday evening, and one of the short routes will be even shorter – 20 miles on the Saturday instead of 30 – to encourage people to try their hand. Bike Bath are also working with Sustrans and it's hoped that the Saturday sportive will take in the Two Tunnels greenway, which offers a scenic (and flatter!) route out of Bath to the south, through the mile-long Combe Down tunnel. The path is opening in April 2013.
Last year there was a number of other events in Bath as part of the weekend, including roller racing at Avon Valley Cyclery, and the organisers hope to add more to the calendar for 2013 as well. When we have more details, you'll be the first to know.
"The cycling event landscape remains busy and challenging but following the very positive feedback we received earlier this year we have confidence that this annual cycling event can really grow in our historic city," Richard Best of Bike Bath told us. "We've taken note of comments about hills and watery lanes but let's hope the weather gods are with us!"
This year online entry is handled via the British Cycling website, and there's currently a discount available for early entries. The shorter events are cheaper, with the 20- and 30-milers costing £17 (currently £13.40). The 60-mile rides on the Saturday and Sunday are £28 (currently £24.40) and the 100-milers £37 (currently £31.40). You can enter both days together for a further discount too.
For more about the event, and to enter, head over to www.bikebath.co.uk
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.