Welcome to The Fred Whitton Challenge

The Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge is one of the most popular sportives in the UK and is also famed as being particularly difficult. Dubbed ‘The Daddy of them all’ by Cycling Weekly, riders rank it alongside European events such as the Marmotte in terms of difficulty. The ride is a real challenge and everyone who completes it has a true sense of achievement.

The Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge is a charity event in honour of the late Fred Whitton who was a great advocate for cycle sport in Cumbria and North Lancashire. It is with respect to Fred and his ideals that the event remains just that, ‘a challenge’. 

The Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge consists of a 112 mile sportive around the Lake District, now a World Heritage Site. Starting at Grasmere and taking in climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott, Wrynose and Blea Tarn passes.

The very top riders complete the route in just under six hours but eleven hours and over are not uncommon for the average Sportive rider. This is a very tough route and going on rider feedback the hardest one day ride in the UK, the event includes all the Lakeland passes, one with a 30% gradient and this comes at 98 miles.

Grasmere showground


The main sponsors of the event. Established in 1992 we are the UK’s largest cycle store and online retailer. Based in the heart of the Lake District with some of the country’s best riding right from the store.


The person who inspired the ride, and whose untimely death moved us to ride the route and raise money for charity in his memory.


That’s exactly what it is – 112 miles on the toughest route in Britain. We make no bones about the ride, it is hard, and will probably be the hardest one day ride you will ever complete. It will take a lot of effort and willpower to finish the event, please don’t take it lightly, and don’t attempt it if it’s your first sportive.





Since 1999

Fred Whitton & The Challenge

The Challenge has been raising money for charity since it began in 1999, but who is Fred Whitton – and why is it named after him? Until his untimely death in 1998 at the age of 50, Fred Whitton was an extremely popular member of the Lakes Road Club. Not only was Fred the main instigator behind all the clubs’ activities, but he was also always there on the club runs and training weekends.

Living near all the big Lake District steep climbs, Fred would have known them all, so the year following his death we decided to cycle the route in his honour and use it as an opportunity to raise a bit of money for charity.


FWC two million charity cake

Twenty five years later that ‘bit’ for charity has now surpassed the £2,000,000 mark!

In recent years the event has given MacMillan Nurses an average of just over £100,000 each year. Along with this, the event has shared the donation of £608,000 to the two Air Ambulances in Cumbria, The Mountain Rescue and Various youth Cycling projects.

 We like to stop and think of Fred’s reaction to the event on the day and wonder what he would have made of it all!

Serving the Community Since 1999

The Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge was the first Cycle Sportive in the UK and is now regarded as the hardest one-day cycling event in the British Isles, it also has the title of The Daddy of Them All. What started off as a club ride for a friend, has grown to be one of the most famous cycling events in Europe, never in our wildest dreams did we think the event would be still running after 24 years and would generate such a fantastic amount of donations for our Special Charities.

After 15 years Starting and Finishing in Coniston, the event moved to the Grasmere Sports Ground and has proved extremely popular, with over 5,000 riders applying for just over 2,500 places. The ride has participants from Holland, Norway, Spain, Belgium, France, Russia, Switzerland, and two riders made the trip all the way from Australia especially to ride in the event.


Dates for your Diary

May 12th 2024 – The next Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge

Friends of the Fred

Pixel Tweaks Graphic design

Want to get involved?

It takes over 350 registered volunteers to keep the Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge going. If you’d like to help out at the event jobs for volunteers vary depending on location, time of day and skills. Please register your interest before the event. All volunteers are guaranteed a place on the following years' ride.

Or you can donate to any of our chosen charities. All donations are well received and go to helping fund these fantastic services in the community.