The Circuit of the Cotswolds is a challenge ride, in the style of European Gran Fondo events such as l’Etape du Tour or the Gran Fondo Campagnolo. It is not a race; whilst some riders choose to test themselves by riding it as fast as possible, many others are content to ride round and admire the beautiful Cotswold scenery. The important thing is the challenge of finishing an extremely testing day out in the saddle. There are optional routes of 70 or 102 miles, providing a challenge for riders of varying levels of fitness.

The event is held to commenorate Dr David Ryan, a physicist and hard-riding cyclist who was tragically killed by a speeding motorist. Whilst studying in Oxford, David liked nothing more than long hard rides through the surrounding hills; the Cotswolds were a personal favourite. The ride links up many of his favourite routes, taking in a selection of the tough hills and minor, traffic-free lanes he so enjoyed. The event is organised by two of his friends from Oxford days: former National Hill Climb champion Jim Henderson and David’s regular touring companion Tom James, with help from many friends in Dark Blue Cycling Club (the Oxford University Cycling Club alumni) and elsewhere.

The event is not a traditional sponsored cycle ride in the style of London – Brighton; however, profits from the event go support to Yorkshire Cancer Research. At the time of his death, David was working on new generation MRI scanners used for investigating brain tumours. So far, over £12,000 has been raised by riders for this worthy cause.