Velo Birmingham set to become the premier cycling event in Birmingham
Birmingham’s Premier Cycle Event
Birmingham is the UK’s second largest city with a population of over one million, expanding to almost three million across the wider West Midlands area.
It is therefore surprising to learn that there are so few sportives available for cyclists in Birmingham. A quick look on the British Cycling website shows just six sportives within a 30km radius of Birmingham. These include; Bike for St Basils, The Swan Cycle Worcestershire Sportive, Tommy Godwin Challenge, Mad March Hare Sportive, The Lapierre Tour of the Black Country and Round the Wrekin.
In addition to these sportives, Bloodwise hold their annual Birmingham Bikeathon in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham. Unlike the Wirral Bikeathon, the Birmingham event is more akin to a sportive, with a choice of three routes; 26m, 52m or 100m.
There is a tremendous gap for a good sportive in the Birmingham area and Velo Birmingham looks set to not only provide West Midlands cyclists with a great cycling event but also reach out to cyclists across the UK.
The event organisers aimed to attract 15,000 cyclists on a 100 mile closed road sportive and they achieved this within 4 days of tickets going on sale, despite the high cost.
Velo Birmingham Key Facts
|Name:||Velo Birmingham Sportive||Organiser:||CSM Active Sport|
|Location:||Birmingham, West Midlands||Event Website:||link to event website|
|Date:||Sept 24, 2017||Cost:||£75 or £115|
|Event Type:||Sportive||Start Time:||7:00am onwards|
|Distance:||100m / 160km||Feed Stations:||25m, 50m, 65m, 85m|
|Climbing:||6,550 feet · view climbing data||Ride Profile:||Closed Roads, flat urban|
|GPS Route:||view route and GPX on Strava||Map:||see below or click for map|
Details are starting to emerge following the event launch, and confirmation of the official route map and GPX file, which is now available to download. Following the initial pre-registration period, around 45,000 cyclists expressed an initial interest, although this was prior to the cost of the event being known. Whilst some cyclists expressed disgust at the high cost of the Sportive, Velo Birmingham sold out it’s full 15,000 capacity within just 4 days.
The date of Velo Birmingham is now confirmed as Sept 24, 2017
If you signed-up for General Entry (£75), you’ll have to be in Birmingham City Centre the day before the event to collect your Race Pack in person. However, if you opt for the more expensive Fast Track Entry (£115), the Race Pack will be delivered to your home in advance. Fast Track Entry also gives you guaranteed car parking a short cycle away from the start line, plus the opportunity to start in the first three waves of the day. Whether this is worth the additional £40 remains to be seen.
Velo Birmingham Route Map & GPX File
If your looking to download the official route map in GPX file format, you can do so from the various links on this page.
If you are looking for details of the Velo Birmingham climbs just click on that link for full details on elevations, gradients and some smart videos based on Google Street View images of the climb.
The 2017 Velo Birmingham starts on Broad Street, in the heart of Birmingham City Centre, and passes through four counties; West Midlands, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire plus the Borough of Sandwell and Dudley, before returning back into Birmingham.
After the 15,000 cyclists cross the finish line, they will be directed to Velo Birmingham’s official finish venue at the Barclaycard Arena, where they can celebrate their fantastic achievement with fellow riders, friends and family.
Velo Birmingham GPX File
The official GPS download file has now been released and is available to export to your Garmin or other GPS devices.
The GPS files are available to export as GPX files from Strava, RidewithGPS, Garmin Connect and MapMyRide. Just click on the following links to download the GPX file or simply view the route.
There are three Category 3, one Category 4 and three Category 5 climbs. This gives an overall elevation gain of just over 6,500ft, which taken over 100 miles shouldn’t be too challenging.
The first elevation comes after 26m and climbs 500ft over 3 miles, before descending the same over 1 mile. The first challenge is probably straight after this at Stanford-on-Teme which is a cheeky little climb over 3 miles with gradients touching 10% in some parts. The only other ascent of note comes at the 75-mile marker, where you’ll find yourself climbing 800ft (from 100ft to 900ft) steadily until the 90-mile marker. All things considered, this is probably to be classed as a flat route.
Velo Birmingham Route Map
The Velo Birmingham route map clearly shows details of the 100-mile route, which takes in Sandwell & Dudley, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and of course, Birmingham City Centre. Click on the map to enlarge it.
Section 1: 0-25 miles
Around 15,000 cyclists will congregate on Broad Street, in Birmingham City Centre, before heading west towards Wyre Forest National Nature Reserve, passing through Halesowen and crossing the River Severn, before arriving in Bewdley and the first feed station.
For those that know Birmingham, it will be a strange feeling cycling along Hagley Road (A456) without the concern of motorised road users. The A456 soon becomes the A458, which riders follow for around 11-miles to the outskirts of Stourbridge.
At this point, the route moves South and onto B-roads, heading towards the beautiful village of Bewdley, situated just East of Wyre Forest National Nature Reserve. Along this route, riders will have the opportunity to take in the first feed station, although at circa 21-miles, this feels too soon.
However, this first stop is strategically placed to give cyclists a quick breather after their first one-to-two hours’ effort and before the first lump of the day at the 30-mile marker. This is closely followed by the second hill of the route and the second highest point of the day at around 800ft.
Section 2: 25-50 miles
Refreshed, riders leave Bewdley, going due South to Dunley, where you will encounter your first climb, a 3-mile 500ft leg-warmer. This takes you to Yarhampton and West to Stanford-upon-Teme for the first decent ascent of around 700ft over 3-miles. This climb is an official KoM & QoM, known locally as Stanford Bank.
Average gradients on Stanford Bank are 8% and this is a challenging climb that will test even the most experienced of riders. However, as ever with challenging climbs in cycling, the views from the top are worth the effort and the subsequent descents even better.
Soon after, the route heads South towards Herefordshire travelling through Upper Rochford and onto the second feed station just before the 50-mile marker at Bromyard. This is probably the place to stop and catch your breath, reflect on what you’ve achieved so far and fuel up for the second part of the ride.
Section 3: 50-75 miles
Despite the absence of any major climbs, this third section of the route is probably best described as undulating country roads and if the weather supports us on the day, it should be pretty scenic.
The highlight is undoubtedly the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Clifton-upon-Thame, which will be found at the 58-mile marker. This is a village and civil parish in the Malvern Hills district of Worcestershire.
After the beautiful countryside, the most notable part of this route is the 500ft descent over 1.5 miles into Martley. After this exhilaration, you’ll turn due North and then turning South-East towards Little Witley and the penultimate feed station of the route, around the 65-mile marker.
Section 4: 75-100 miles
The final section of the Velo Birmingham route sets off relatively flat, passing through the quaint village of Belbroughton and onto the infamous St Kenelm’s pass.
This section covers 1.5 miles and has an average gradient of 5%, although it does reach 10% in some places. The key here, like with all long distance rides, is to save some energy for the end. The kind organisers have once again been strategic and have placed the fourth and final feed station at the top of the climb.
From here, cyclists are likely to be a little more spread-out than the early stages of the ride and once refreshed, you’ll have a short (depends how you’re feeling) downhill section of around 10 miles to the finish and the accolades of friends, family and well-wishers to absorb.
Velo Birmingham Charity Places
This year’s Velo Birmingham sportive sold out within 4 days and whilst there are no doubt 15,000 happy cyclists, you might not be one of them. However, don’t despair as you can still participate if you join one of the charity teams, some of which are listed below.
|Velo Birmingham Charity Places|
|Alzheimer’s Society||Cure Leukaemia||NSPCC||Queen Elizabeth Hospital|
|The Alzheimer’s Society support people who live with dementia and also funds research. Dementia directly affects the lives of over 850,000 people in the UK. The charity rely on voluntary contributions to carry on this vital work so joining Alzheimer’s Society Velo Birmingham team will help raise vital funds.||Birmingham based blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia is helping in the fight against this disease. By cycling with the charity team in this year’s Velo Birmingham, you will help raise much needed funds to help save lives now and in the immediate future.||Using voluntary donations the NSPCC helps children who’ve been abused to rebuild their lives, helps and supports to protect children at risk and finds the best ways of preventing child abuse. So when a child needs a helping hand, the NSPCC will be there.||The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity supports patients and families at one of the UK’s largest hospitals, including wounded UK military personnel and children with cancer. From groundbreaking research to world-leading cancer equipment, the Charity provides help and support in Birmingham.|
|Entry Fee: £40||Entry Fee: £40||Entry Fee: £40||Entry Fee: £40|
|Sponsorship: £400||Sponsorship: £400||Sponsorship: £400||Sponsorship: £400|
|MORE INFO||MORE INFO||MORE INFO||MORE INFO|
There are numerous reasons for cycling the Velo Birmingham route but joining one of the charity teams and raising sponsorship will generate much need funds for one of these good causes. Places are still available at the time of writing but please check the charity’s own website for the latest information.
Charity packages are available for around £40 which includes entry to the Velo Birmingham event, a cycling jersey and access to pre-event training guides and organised training days. Some of the charities even have plans for celebration dinners. In return, they ask riders to raise at least £400 for the charity.
Velo Birmingham FAQs
What is Velo Birmingham?
Velo Birmingham is a 100-mile cycling sportive that is due to take place on Sept 24, 2017. The event sees 15,000 cyclists ride across four counties on closed roads, something rarely seen for non-professional sporting events.
How much does Velo Birmingham cost?
There are two ticket types, General Entry and Fast Track Entry. The primary difference is that with the Fast Track ticket, you are guaranteed to set off with your friends in the first three waves, especially useful if you don’t want to get stuck behind 15,000 other cyclists. The Rider Packs will also be sent out in advance, meaning you won’t have to collect it in-person, the day before the event. Fast Track entry also gives you access to the car parks near the start, which is pretty useful.
What you have to decide, is if this is worth the extra cost. General Entry tickets are £75 and Fast Track tickets are £115, both are subject to a £3.75 booking fee.
Can I still enter Velo Birmingham 2017?
Yes. Whilst General Entry and Fast Track tickets sold out within four days of going on-sale, there are some charity places still available (see the above section on riding for charity).
What’s the Velo Birmingham route?
The route starts & finishes in Birmingham City Centre and passes through four counties; West Midlands, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire plus the Borough of Sandwell and Dudley. See the above map and route for full details.
What time does the event start?
Velo Birmingham starts at 7:00am but given that there are 15,000 cyclists, starting times are likely to be staggered over one or two hours. Cyclists paying for the Fast Track Entry should be allocated an earlier starting time.
Where does Velo Birmingham start from?
Velo Birmingham will start from Birmingham Town Hall, which can be found in the heart of Birmingham City Centre. The full address is Victoria Square, Birmingham B3 3DQ.
Are there any Feed Stations on the route?
Yes. There are four feed stations, evenly spread throughout the course. They are situated at the following mile-markers; 25m, 50m, 65m, 85m.
- Bewdley – 25 mile
- Bromyard – 50 mile
- Martley – 65 mile
- Belbroughton – 85 mile
Are the roads closed?
Yes, absolutely. The key feature of this sportive is that the roads are closed, all 100-miles of them!
Does Velo Birmingham have any climbs?
The overall elevation gain is 6,500 feet over the 100 mile route, which equates to a pretty flat circuit. However, this does include several Cat 3 & Cat 5 climbs, plus one Cat 4. The main climbs are;
- Cat 3 – Abberley (600 ft) · max 8%
- Cat 3 – Hanley William (800 ft) · max 11%
- Cat 5 – Clifton upon Teme (650 ft) · max 5%
- Cat 4 – Clent (850 ft) · max 6%
How long will it take to cycle the Velo Birmingham route?
It depends on how fast you cycle! Time is going to vary from cyclist to cyclist, and also how long you spend in the feed stations. Here’s a quick guide for you to work out how long it may take you to cycle the whole route.
|Average Speed||Non-Stop Time||Time at Feed Stations||Total Time|
|Pro||25 mph||4 hrs||None||4 hrs|
|Fast||23 mph||4 hrs, 20 mins||20 mins||4 hrs, 40 mins|
|Gold||20 mph||5 hrs||30 mins||5 hrs, 30 mins|
|Silver||18 mph||5 hrs, 30 mins||40 mins||6 hrs, 10 mins|
|Bronze||16 mph||6 hrs, 15 mins||45 mins||7 hrs|
|Leisure||14 mph||7 hrs, 10 mins||50 mins||8 hrs|
|Fun||12 mph||8 hrs, 20 mins||60 mins||9 hrs, 20 mins|
Is there a cut-off time?
Yes there is. Riders will be given staggered start times and the last rider to cross the start line will have to average 12mph to cover the 100 miles in 8.5hrs. However, this time includes all stops, whether at the feed stations or simply for a quick rest.
Velo Birmingham will be using a Pace Car to follow behind cyclists who are at the rear of the pack. Riders who are caught by the Pace Car and where the driver feels that you won’t be able to maintain the average speed for the remainder of the ride, will be asked to get into the Pace Car, which will take you back to the Start / Finish venue.
There will be a number of official Domestiques doing all they can to help riders stay in front of the Pace Car. To help you keep ahead of the pace car, you will need to have left each Feed Station by the following times:
- Pit Stop 1: 10:40am
- Pit Stop 2: 1:00pm
- Pit Stop 3: 2:30pm
- Pit Stop 4: 4:30pm
Velo Birmingham on Social Media
Backed by CSM Active, Velo Birmingham is well represented on the primary social networks, so keeping up to date with news shouldn’t be difficult – just choose your preferred social media.
Velo Birmingham in the News
Velo Birmingham was soft launched (marketing speak for a low-key teaser campaign) online in September 2016. Despite the low-key approach, word spread quickly and cyclists across the UK were quick to pre-register for this event.
The teaser launch saw a phenomenal response from cyclists with [quote] “tens of thousands of pre-registrations” and all that was known at that stage was that it is a 100-mile sportive, on closed roads, in the Birmingham area. The reaction from the organisers was one of elation and delight.
The formal launch of Velo Birmingham appropriately took place at the Birmingham NEC Cycle Show on September 22. Details of the event were announced by various keynote speakers, including;
- Martin Johnson – England rugby legend and former World Cup winner
- Ian Ward – Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council
- Jon Ridgeon – former international athlete & Executive Chairman of CSM Active (event organisers)