The exact route for the 2021 GWR will be confirmed much nearer the time (around May/June 2021) but, while we're actively considering a number of possible alterations, it's still likely that it will be very similar to the route that proved so popular in 2020 and, once again, we'll be aiming to offer EIGHT possible routes & distances to choose from. So, while they are very much provisional at this stage, the description and the links below should give you a good idea of the challenges that await at the GWR.
The Ride starts at the Park & Ride near Long Ashton, in south-west Bristol (just off the A370).
Riders then head out through Long Ashton on a nice, flat stretch to get the legs going, before turning towards Barrow Gurney and the first little uphill section of the day.
Or, if you fancy an extra bit of climbing and want to get the blood pumping straightaway, this is where you'll find the first of the GWR's three optional sections - a steepish climb followed by a fast, twisty descent.
Once through Barrow Gurney, the route turns right at traffic lights and follows the A38 for a very short distance (c. 700 metres), before then heading through Winford and up towards Chew Valley Lake.
The route skirts the lake on a lovely stretch of road before then turning towards Blagdon and on to the magnificent Burrington Combe.
Passing the Rock of Ages, where the Rev. Toplady is reputed to have written his famous hymn, riders face possibly the most challenging stretch of the Ride - ascending the Combe. It's about 2.5 miles of steady uphill riding, but at c. 5-6% gradient (1 in 20 or so in old money) it should be manageable for most people. But whether on bike or on foot, it's definitely worth the effort!
Once at the top of the Combe, there's a nice, flat(ish) stretch along the top of the Mendips as the route makes its way to the halfway point and the picturesque village of Priddy, with its wonderful village green and tempting Butcombe pub (the Queen Vic, serving a lovely pint of Butcombe Bitter)!
However, if you're in desperate need of an additional significant climb this is where you'll find the second optional section - comprising another fast descent followed by a 3-mile climb of the iconic Cheddar Gorge. This is recommended for experienced riders only.
From here, the route descends onto the Somerset Levels and heads towards Wedmore via some wonderful, quiet country lanes.
And here's where you'll find the third and final optional section - a flat-ish 6-mile stretch that will introduce you to even more of the wonderful Levels.
And from Wedmore it's a good run on to Mark and Highbridge, before then heading on to the coast and the seafront in Burnham.
After a quick view of the sea, it's on past Berrow and Brean and then four miles of yet more wonderful, quiet country lanes (where stopping at the cider farm is optional!), before entering the final straight towards Weston.
The route joins the A370 briefly on the approach into Weston, and the Ride finally finishes on the Beach Lawns just behind Weston's revamped seafront, where friends, family and other well-wishers will be gathered to help riders celebrate their achievement!
NB we reserve the right to amend or withdraw the optional sections of the route if we anticipate particularly inclement weather or any other unfavourable conditions that might adversely impact safety and enjoyment on the day.