Scouring the internet for new two-wheeled challenges? Well, you're in luck. Whether you've set goals or just want to make plans to spend some quality time with your beloved bike, an endurance event could be just the ticket.
With the rise of stay-cation holidays, bikepacking and the growing desire for adventure at every opportunity, there are some exciting developments in mountain bike events with more emphasis on different formats, new destinations and longer distances. Endurance cycling has never been so popular, so if you enjoy covering off-road miles and putting your best efforts to the test, then this is the year to make it happen. So stop searching, grab your bike and take on some of the best mountain bike endurance events the UK has to offer in 2021.
As a result of the current global public health situation, a lot of events listed below will have limited spaces due to postponed 2020 entries being carried over to 2021. It's worth noting that events can be postponed or cancelled at short notice, so please check with organisers before travelling.
1. Elan Valley MTB Challenge
The Elan Valley is home to some serious natural beauty and offers up a selection of Wales' best landscapes. It's also the host of the Elan Valley MTB Challenge.
After two sell-out years in 2018 and 2019, the Elan Valley MTB Challenge is back in 2021 for its third instalment. An event that prides itself on the remaining faithful to the older ways of MTB, this is one for the purists who love big undulating climbs, fast flowy descents, techy sections and the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere.
Choose from a distance of either 30km or 50km, and put your legs to the test as you explore the best rural of Wales by mountain bike.
2. MTB Marathon Series: round one
Over the years, the MTB Marathon Series has grown considerably to become what is now highly regarded as being "the original single-loop off-road mountain bike event in the UK".
There are four rounds of the series and the first one takes place in Builth Wells. With a mixture of classic trails and new single and double track bridleways, the route showcases some of the best riding spots mid-Wales has to offer.
Choose from 25km, 50km or 65km distances for the main event, but don't forget to check out the rides and events that take place on Saturday too.
3. Dyfi Enduro
Since 2001, riders have flocked to the small town of Machynlleth in north Wales to take on the legendary Dyfi Enduro.
The mass start race doesn't follow a typical enduro format. Instead of timed stages, competitors take on a challenging timed trail loop with a mixture of terrain, singletrack, technical sections and a few descents thrown in for good measure that wouldn't look out of place on an EWS stop.
The route covers 52km (or 54km if you fancy adding in a tough extra loop) of wild and unruly Welsh forest tracks, but remember – you have to reach the checkpoints by the cut-off times to see it through to the end.
4. Glentress Seven
Part of the TweedLove Festival, Glentress Seven is perhaps one of the most popular single-day endurance events on the calendar.
Taking place at the Glentress trail centre, riders race in trios, pairs or solos for – you guessed it – seven hours. The atmosphere is super laid back, so whether you’re there to win or just cruise round in the (fingers crossed) sunshine, you’ll be having a good time.
The challenging course features plenty of climbing and takes riders anywhere between 30-60 minutes per lap. However, along with tough ascents, you get some of the best descending out there, so it’s well worth all that pain and suffering.
5. Loch Ness 360
Do you have what it takes to tackle this Loch Ness monster?
Part of a three-day running and cycling festival, this all-new mountain bike challenge is waiting for you on the shores of Ol' Nessy's loch.
Mountain bikers are invited to attempt the massive 129km route in just 14hrs. Think it sounds just about achievable? There’s also the small matter of 3,000m of ascending to do along the way as you weave your way up, over and around the mountainous valleys that surround the loch.
With those sorts of numbers, it will be no surprise if you start seeing mythical creatures come the finish line...
6. Mountain Mayhem
The world's longest-running 24-hour mountain bike endurance event is expected to be back at Marston Lodge in Northamptonshire for 2021. It's a site steeped in history, including the battle of Naseby, so don't be surprised if the local ghost stories start playing tricks with your mind when you're deep into the night shift during the race.
There are 12- and 24-hour race options to choose from, which you can enter solo, in pairs or as a team of between three-to-five riders. The aim of the game is to complete as many laps as possible within the allotted time. Oh, and stay awake.
7. TwentyFour 12
Heading into its 15th year, TwentyFour 12 offers an action-packed four-day weekend of racing at the former-UCI World Cup venue of Newham Park.
In addition to the main event – a 24-hour race around a 12km off-road course – there are plenty of other activities and mini races to enjoy, including children's games, a 10km trail run and single-speed and fat bike events. Plus, as it takes place in July, the sun might even make an appearance as well if you're lucky.
8. ‘Ard Rock Enduro
Can you even call yourself a mountain biker if you've never heard of what has arguably become one of the UK's biggest MTB events of the year – the 'Ard Rock Enduro?
Long and technical climbs, loose rocky terrain, rapid flow, and technical descents, the 'Ard Rock Enduro is for 'ard nuts only. Covering 45km of wild and unruly Yorkshire moors, the race features seven stages that will test every fibre of your being.
You won't care one bit though because you'll be having a rad time riding with friends, enjoying the festival entertainment and indulging in all things bikes. Plus, there's also an 'Ard Moors and an 'Ard Dales if you want to conquer them all.
9. Hope Cross Counties
Ride the routes that the Hope Technology team uses to test its award-winning products in the Hope Cross Counties off-road endurance event.
Criss-crossing the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire, the race offers up 90km and 102km route options that both demand over 1,200m of climbing to really get the legs burning.
The event can be tackled on a mountain or cyclo-cross bike – both have their strengths and weaknesses – but whichever you opt for, you’re sure to have a blast alongside hundreds of other riders taking part in this epic off-road event.
10. TORQ In Your Sleep
Like the look of the above but based in the south? Why not opt for this August bank holiday banger instead?
Taking place at the beautiful Minley Manor, TORQ In Your Sleep is a great place to start building up to the bigger 24-hour endurance events. With six- and 12-hour options to choose from, your rider ticket also includes access to the event area, on-site camping and some TORQ goodies to boot.
This isn't just a solo race either – you also have the option of signing up as a pair or teams of three or four, meaning you can have some type 2 fun (read: suffer) alongside your mates too.