Seven bike races that you could actually win (or at least take part in)

Who said cycling is a spectators' sport? Here's seven rides that you can take part in

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The 100th edition of the Tour de France is in full swing. But while we can’t all claim the maillot jaune, here are seven cycling events that you can at least take part in (and one doesn't even need a jersey of any colour).

World Naked Bike Ride
Until 21 June, across the country
Not so much a race to the finish, more like a streak, this year there are naked bike rides in 10 towns and cities around the UK — and in 20 countries across the globe (although notably not Qatar) — as a statement against oil dependency.

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On the plus side, should it rain human skin is waterproof. Body painting is encouraged and helmets (smirk) are permitted.

Dunwich Dynamo
20-21 July, starts in London
A 120-mile on-tarmac ride starting in Hackney, London, at 8pm and ending on a middle-of-nowhere beach in Dunwich, Suffock some 10 hours later.

There’s no official support (so bring spare inner tubes) and it’s overnight down rural roads (be lit up like a Tron Light Cycle), but one of the most-welcome sunrises (and pub breakfasts) of your life beckons at the finishing line.

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Last year, 1,500 people took part — in 2011, one rider finished it on a Boris Bike, and two years before, a competitor made it on a penny-farthing.

Brompton World Championship
27-28 July, Goodwood Motor Circuit, West Sussex
As part of the Orbital Cycling Festival — a three-day bender, with pushbikes taking over the illustrious, usually stanchly combustion engine-fixated race track — Goodwood plays host to “the biggest folding bike race in the world”.

The competition is stiff (four-time Vuelta a España winner Roberto Heras took the title in 2009) and dress code even stiffer (“jacket, tie and absolutely no Lycra”).

L’Eroica
4-6 October, starts in Gaiole, Chianti, Italy
The “Woodstock of vintage cycling”, L’Eroica is ostensibly a race over four distances but in reality more of a charming romp along the white gravel roads of the Tuscan countryside, with an old-school bike fair thrown in.

But there are rules: entrants must ride a “heroic” bicycle (a steel-frame road racing bike built before 1987 with gear shift levers on the frame down tube), and mountain bikes are very much frowned upon. 

Absa Cape Epic
23-30 March 2014, South Africa
An eight-day 800km time-trial event for serious riders. Routes change every year, but the organisers promise 15km of climbs over some of the most spectacular passes that South Africa’s Western Cape has to offer.

Paris-Roubaix Challenge
April 2014, France and Belgium
The professional Paris-Roubaix race, the inaugural edition of which took place back in 1896, is not known as “A Sunday in Hell” for nothing.

This event opens up the route (and the agony) to amateurs — 70-170km of tortuous riding on a road bike with skinny tires on the course’s legendary cobbled stone roads. Practice on your patio steps at home beforehand.

Five Boro Bike Tour
4 May 2014, New York, US
An annual 40-mile car-free jaunt through New York City’s five boroughs. Starts in Lower Manhattan and takes in Central Park and numerous bridges before finishing on Staten Island, with music and entertainment at rest stops along the way. Plus, the opportunity to yell, “Hey, I’m ridin’ here!”