Newsletter – March 2022

“white boxers”

top dog events logo

newsletter no 1 – march 2022

cyclists on the ram sportive

welcome to this, our first attempt at a monthly newsletter – aimed at keeping you both informed and excited about what the team at top dog events in the north west of england are up to –

2022 sportives

we now have 4 x sportives organized and are looking forward to seeing some of our old cycling friends from previous events gathered in lancaster again, and welcoming lots of new faces to enjoy this incredible area for cycling challenges and adventures –

"the ram" 68 mile yorkshire dales sportive

the ram yorkshire dales 68 mile sportive 
10 april 2022
entry £35.00



"the raptor" 63 mile forest of bowland sportive


the raptor forest of bowland 63 mile sportive
12 june 2022
entry £35.00



"the beast" 108 mile lake district sportive


the beast lake district 108 mile sportive
14 august 2022
entry £45.00



"the boxer" 66 mile south lakes sportivethe boxer south lakes 66 mile sportive
9 october 2022
entry £35.00



covid restrictions

at present we seem to be back to some sort of normal, after the last few years of uncertainty and let’s face it worry for everyone’s safety.

we will keep some ideas like posting the event numbers out to riders, but look forward to more sociable events, where we can start to steadier riders off 1st again and relax together once the ride is over.

this will be so much nicer than trying to keep everyone apart and sending folk on their way the minute they arrive back at the finish line.


our tried and tested routes will remain the same this season – the only alteration for now is a slightly more rider friendly back lane into dent may be trialled on the ram.

but the jury is out on this as it does contain a few potholes.

post ride.

as we can be more sociable once riders are back, there will be a sandwich and bag of crisps to enjoy in the finish area, while relaxing to a mix of cycling related music, put together by joseph packman a bbc 5 live studio manager / producer.

plans are afoot to also provide a much-requested complimentary hot drink too.

3-1-5 health club, where our event car park is located, have agreed to allow our riders into the exclusive members only building for a post ride swim, sauna, steam, jacuzzi and shower, for the special event day only fee of £5.00 (payable at clubs reception desk).

souvenirs / merchandise

each event now has a bespoke medal available for purchase when entering online, and we took the decision to also make bespoke car stickers another optional extra, available when booking online, to reduce any waste created by just giving everybody one.

social media

we now have an instagram page where you can see what rides and events the team are doing – so have a look and follow us, and we also have a facebook page if that is your preferred platform.

i reckon that will do for now – we have kept you long enough – please send us any thoughts / feedback / ideas re this newsletter, or our events, we look forward to greeting you and your riding friends in sunny lancaster very shortly.

best regards*

chris, lynn, and all @

2021 Season Review


what a year – we successfully organized and ran the 4 x sportives we had planned (whereas we only managed to run 1 x event in 2020)

here is a brief overview –

the ram – yorkshire dales 68 mile sportive – 16 may 2021

"the ram" 68 mile yorkshire dales sportive

with great relief we were able to welcome riders back to lancaster again – after more than a year of cancellations, uncertainty, restrictions, adjusting our operation and moving goalposts.

the event was well attended, and we felt it ran extremely smoothly with the new “covid safe” way we decided to run our sportives. riders’ numbers were posted out to each entrant a week before event day, with riders grouped together according to the time they estimated it would take them to complete the route, and set off in groups of 10, every 2 x minutes.  this means that queuing up to register and get event numbers on event day is a thing of the past for top dog events.

all went well behind the scenes, due to our amazing team of helpers, the highlight possibly being paul observing and following to his house, the chap who has removed several crucial route marking arrows and “steep descent” warning signs, every year since we started, stealing the signs that he had just put in place!!.  now that paul has pointed out the error of his ways and putting our riders in danger (and we know where he lives) this should not happen again.

 the raptor – forest of bowland 63 mile sportive – 20 june 2021

"the raptor" 63 mile forest of bowland sportive

the second sportive of the year was also well attended and again the new system worked well, making for a stress-free day for all involved, both riders and event makers.

we seemed to have a lot of snacks and drinks left over again, after this event and wondered what we could do about this regular occurrence.  this has happened after each of the events we have run, and although we take everything to a local foodbank, it seemed like a waste of riders’ entry fee money.

following this we asked for feedback and received some good suggestions from riders, we decided to return to buying tried and trusted cyclists’ snacks like flapjack and bananas, for feed stations and publish “menus” of what would be available at each feed station in future, to enable people wanting more exotic fayre to bring their own, rather than us guessing what to supply for them.

despite weather forecasts to the contrary and us insisting that riders started the day wrapped up warm and with their waterproof jackets on, the afternoon was roasting hot with the events team frantically searching for cold drinks, shade and sunscreen for survival to watch hot and sweaty riders return.

the beast – lake district 108 mile sportive – 08 august 2021

"the beast" 108 mile lake district sportive

this event was rescheduled from its planned date of 11 april 2021, due to the fact that although we could run the event itself, government advice was that that people only did essential travel and all hotels and other overnight accommodation had to remain closed to guests (until the day after i.e., 12 april!).  as a lot of our riders come from all over the uk and make a weekend of it, this made the event a non-starter.

we looked at the dreadful daily weather forecasts the week before our annual big day out, and seriously debated whether anyone would come or not.

although the rider numbers were slightly reduced on the day, we have nothing but deep respect to everyone who braved the awfully wet and windy conditions on the day.  the team provided even closer support to participants than usual and operated a shuttle service back to lancaster for several riders who found it all a bit too much.

most riders relished the challenge and crossed the finish line with huge smiles on their faces, and once dried off, told us that it was one of the best sportives they had ever done!!

the feed stations worked well, and for the first time we provided sandwiches at the second one, which proved very popular.  we had some “leftovers”, but this corresponded to the amount of dns riders, and again the local foodbank benefited from this surplus.

the boxer – south lakes 66 mile sportive – 10 october 2021

"the boxer" 66 mile south lakes sportive

the final event of the year was well attended and was also the first one for a long time that all riders entered from scratch, i.e., no one had been transferred from cancelled events in the previous months, and we are thankful to each one.

behind the scenes everyone felt like everything was becoming familiar and running smoothly again, after starting the season off feeling a bit rusty after the long layoff due to covid, we had our mojo back.

all went well on the day, and everyone involved had a great time, we had a wide range of entrants from young 15-year-old henry from kendal to 83-year-old violet from garstang (who has done nearly all our events to date) and entrants once again joined us from all over the uk.

acting on rider feedback, we set up a post ride green room (tent) in the finish area where riders could relax with a drink, sandwich and crisps to begin the recovery process before the journey home, this proved to be very popular and will be a feature of all our future events.

2022 – looking forward……

despite a feeling of deja’vu regarding pandemics and possible restrictions, we are looking forward to next season.  our current annual 4 x sportives are ready to rumble and entries are open, all entry fees will be kept by s i entries again, should the worse happen and we have to refund everyone.

we will continue to run our sportives along the lines that have proved so safe and successful over the last few difficult years and look forward to welcoming new and returning entrants alike to lancaster and the great rides in our area.

many winter evenings have been spent pouring over spreadsheets showing the costs of providing each of our events the way we do, and our entry fees will increase by £5 on 1 january 2022.  the data shows that we spend £10+ on each rider to post numbers, provide insurance cover, souvenirs and refreshments.  also, our events have grown from a few friends and relations organizing great local rides together for next to nothing, to a professional organisation that includes paid helpers, professional medical cover, support vehicles, photographers, hiring venues and various other logistics which now cost £2000+ per event.

several exciting off road / gravel events are in the pipeline, one from our usual lancaster start / finish area and one based in the lakes from coniston and exploring the nearby grizedale forest.  we are also working with our friends at 3-1-5 health club (where our events are located) to offer riders special event day entry to the exclusively members only club for a post ride swim, sauna, jacuzzi, shower and changing for a small charge.

as some of our team and close friends are qualified / professional on and off-road cycling guides, we are tempted to organise and offer guided rides as well as possible weekend retreats and holidays in the area we know so well if there is a demand.

a new instagram page and monthly e mail newsletter, with cycling related tips, tricks, info and recipes will be up and running early new year to keep you in our loop, and you will be invited to get involved in both.

chris and lynn enjoying wheelbase spring classic in 2019

away from organizing events, we are all looking forward to getting back out on our road bikes as soon as possible again, after what seems like a long winter of muddy mountain biking.  we will be training for and taking part in several sportives and events ourselves, as well as continuing to explore and discover even more great local tracks and trails and escaping to ride in wales and scotland as often as we can.


so, thank you for supporting us and our events since we started this adventure 4 years ago, it would be great if you could refer us to some of your cycling friends and even greater if you would join us in lancaster again next season for some more safe and supported cycling in this amazing area, we are lucky enough to live in.

happy new year to you and yours –

chris, lynn and all at –

Simple Vegan Veg Tart

this simple to make veg tart is prepared in minutes and will use up any bit of veg you have in the fridge or veg rack 

simple vegan veg tart

you need –

  • 1 x sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 x baking sheet or grease proof paper
  • 2 x tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 x red onion – finely sliced
  • 1 x courgette – finely sliced
  • 2 x peppers – finely sliced
  • 2 x garlic cloves – crushed and chopped
  • 10 x cherry tomatoes – halved
  • handful of fresh basil leaves – torn up
  • handful of grated vegan cheese
  • 1 x teaspoon of chilli flakes

to make –

  • pre heat oven to 220 oc / 200 o c fan or gas mark 7
  • lay out baking sheet or grease proof paper in oven to warm up
  • roll out the puff pastry onto baking tray / grease proof paper
  • score round the inside edge of pastry  – about 1 x cm from edge – with knife, be careful not to cut all the way through.  this will encourage the tarts edge to rise
  • place scored pastry on baking sheet / paper into oven and bake for 15 x minutes
  • while pastry bakes – heat oil in large frying pan / wok over a medium heat
  • fry red onion, courgette and peppers for 5 x minutes – stirring regularly
  •  place garlic and tomato halves into pan and fry for 5 x more minutes
  • season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the torn basil leaves
  • after 15 x minutes – remove pastry from oven and place on a chopping board
  • pile the cooked veg mix on top of pastry and spread it out to cover
  • sprinkle grated vegan cheese over the tart – along with chilli flakes and extra oil if you like
  • slice the tart into pieces and serve with a green salad and / or garlic bread

this warm tart will cheer you up after a hard day, it makes for a great rest day lunch or our favourite is to chill out with a cold beer or glass of wine and have one of these for supper

Easy Vegan Pitta Bread Pizzas

these quick and easy pizzas are great anytime you fancy a healthy snack that feels naughty – but are actually very nice

pitta bread pizza

you need –

  • a pitta bread or two per person
  • tomato puree
  • grated cheese – we use a vegan option – violife that melts beautifully
  • optional chopped toppings – go wild with –
  • peppers
  • mushrooms
  • chillies
  • spring onions
  • sweet peppers
  • tomatoes
  • chilli flakes – optional
  •  basil or mixed herbs

to make –

  • pre heat oven to 180 o c
  • arrange pittas on a rack – we use our grill tray
  • spread each pitta with tomato puree
  • sprinkle chopped toppings evenly over the pitta
  • sprinkle topping with herbs / chilli flakes
  • cover pittas with grated cheese
  • put tray in hot oven for 5 / 10 minutes – until cheese is melted but pittas are not burnt
  • carefully remove and enjoy

these wonderful hot snacks can quickly be made post ride, as an early evening snack, with a drink, a simple lunch – when friends drop by – in fact anytime really and they never fail to impress 


Easy Vegan Masala Curry

this is a really easy to make curry dish – it only uses 5 x basic ingredients !!  you can marinate the sauce while you are out riding – then cook it while you wash bikes and yourself post ride.

easy vegan masala curry
easy vegan masala curry

for 2 x people – you need –

  • 1 x 300 g bag of quorn “chicken” pieces – thawed is ideal but frozen is ok
  • 1 x good squirt of tomato sauce or puree
  • 3 x tablespoons of plain yogurt
  • 1 x tablespoon of curry powder (hot or mild)
  • 1 x sliced onion
  • 1 x teaspoon of grated ginger – 1 or 2 x chopped green chillies (both optional)
  • steamed or boiled rice

to make –

  • tip all ingredients – including optional extras – into a bowl and mix together
  • let the mix marinate for at least 1 x hour (while you are out riding ??)
  • to cook in oven –
  • heat oven to 180 o c
  • transfer curry mix to a deep ovenproof dish and cover in tin foil
  • put dish in oven and bake until curry is thoroughly cooked – around 1 x hour
  • to cook on hob –
  • tip curry mix into saucepan
  • heat to a simmer and cook for 30 x minutes checking everything is thoroughly cooked
  • serve on top of steamed or boiled rice with chopped coriander to garnish


Vegan pocket power balls

easy to make / no bake pocket rockets to carry in your jersey and help prevent bonking on testing rides.  homemade – so you know exactly what goes into them and a great mix of both fast and slow release energy sources.

vegan power balls
vegan power balls

to make around 12 x power balls – you need –

  • 100 g of rolled porridge oats
  • 250 g of de stoned dates
  • 60 g of chia seeds
  • 50 g of agave necture or maple syrup

to make –

  • tip oats, dates and seeds into a food blender ( i whizz half the ingredients at a time – to get an even mix )
  •  blend for around 1 x minute
  • add agave nectar or maple syrup and blend again for around 30 x seconds
  • spoon mix out of blender and roll into balls – about 10 / 12 x golf ball sized
  • place balls onto a grease proof paper lined tray
  • put tray into fridge for about 1 x hour to firm up

these are great to have just before starting your ride or rolled in foil / grease proof paper in your jersey pocket to take with you.  the dates provide instant energy – being at the very top of the glycemic index table, while the oats provide long term, slow release energy – being in mid table.




Vegan Berry Boost Protein Smoothie

a quick and nourishing smoothie – low in fat, full of antioxidants and muscle mending protein if you include a scoop of protein powder – ideal to whizz up and enjoy as soon as your ride is over. 

vegan berry protein smoothie
vegan berry protein smoothie

for 2 x riders (about 500 ml) you need –

  • 300 g of fresh or frozen berries – blueberries – raspberries – strawberries – mixed berries
  • 50 g rolled porridge oats
  • 30 g unflavoured,  vanilla or berry vegan protein powder
  • 1 x teaspoon of maple syrup – agave nectar or similar
  • 300 / 500 ml of plant based milk
  • 2 x teaspoons of milled or whole linseed – chia seeds – ground flaxseed – couple of ice cubes (all optional)

to make –

  • put everything into a food blender
  • put lid on a make sure it is secure – or hold it as well like i do !
  • blend until very smooth (adding a little extra milk or water to loosen )
  • pour into glasses and enjoy

if drunk within 30 minutes of your session finishing, the good things in these smoothies will set you up to repair and reinvigorate tired muscles, ready to hit the road again. 


Warming Vegan Hotpot

maybe the ultimate healthy hotpot – easy to make, packed with muscle mending proteins and warming, hearty flavours.

vegan hotpot
warming vegan hotpot

for 2 x very hungry cyclists you need –

  • 1 x yellow pepper – chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 1 x red pepper – chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 6 x vegan sausages (frozen)
  • 1 x red onion – peeled and finely diced
  • 2 x cloves of garlic – crushed and diced
  • 1 x teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 6 x sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 x sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 x 400 g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 x 400 g tin of cannellini beans – drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 1 x teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 x tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 225ml red wine (optional)
  • 125 ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon of marmite/vegemite
  • 1 x teaspoon worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 100 g of fresh chopped kale – stalks removed
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)
  • pitta breads (optional)

to make –

  • pre heat oven to 180o c
  • line a large baking tray with grease proof paper
  • core both peppers and chop into bite sized chunks – put them in a mixing bowl
  • add smoked paprika, a tablespoon of olive oil + salt (optional) and pepper to the bowl and mix
  • tip the coated peppers onto the lined baking tray
  • add the vegan sausages to the baking tray
  • put baking tray in hot oven for 20 / 25 minutes
  • heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large stock pot or sauce pan over a medium heat
  • add diced red onion and an optional pinch of salt – cook and stir for 2 x minutes
  • add garlic, chilli flakes, rosemary and thyme and cook for 1 x minute
  • add tomato puree and balsamic vinegar – stir for 1 x minute
  • add red wine (optional) – simmer mix for 3 x minutes
  • add cannelloni beans, chopped tomatoes, stock, marmite and worcestershire  sauce (optional)
  • simmer mix for 10 x minutes – stirring to prevent sticking on bottom of pan
  • remove peppers and sausages from oven – checked they are cooked through
  • chop sausages into bite sized chunks before adding them and roasted peppers to the saucepan
  • allow the hot pot to simmer for 5 x more minutes
  • add chopped kale to the mix
  • simmer for a 3 x minutes – removing thyme and rosemary stalks
  • then dish up with a warm pitta bread each (optional)

this recipe makes plenty of comforting and nourishing hot pot that will revive tired muscles and set you up for a big day in the saddle tomorrow.  it will fill a couple of hungry cyclists up – with a bit left over for lunch / post ride snack next day. 


Super Quick Vegan Curry and Fried Rice

when time is tight – you have other things to do – just in from a spinning class  or craving something tasty – this simple to make and super healthy vegan curry will save the day.

vegan curry and rice
vegan curry and rice

for 2 x hungry people you need –

  • 1 x table spoon of coconut or other cooking oil
  • 1 x red onion – diced
  • 1 x garlic clove – crushed and chopped
  • 2 cm piece of ginger – grated
  • 1 x large pepper – de-seeded and sliced
  • 1 x small packet of quorn “chicken” pieces or half a large packet
  • curry powder to taste
  • 1 x 250 g packet of pre cooked rice – your favourite flavour
  • 1 x packet of spinach leaves
  • 1 x lime – optional
  • 2 x naan breads – optional

to make –

  • melt cooking oil in a wok or large pan over a medium heat
  • add onion and stir-fry for 1 x minute
  • add garlic and ginger and cook for another minute
  • throw in the “chicken” – pepper and half the curry powder you ll be using
  • stir fry for a couple of minutes – until “chicken” is starting to thaw and colour slightly
  • separate any chunks of rice by squeezing the packet – then add rice to the pan
  •  add 2 x tablespoons of water to the mix and stir fry until the quorn is cooked through
  • add some more curry powder if you like along with the spinach
  • stir the mix until the spinach has wilted to your liking
  • serve your curry and rice with a squeeze of lime juice – and a warmed naan bread – both optional

this simple to make dish is super healthy – it ticks so many boxes by helping with recovery – replacing any carbs used today or getting ready for tomorrows activities – while the protein in the quorn helps tired muscles heal and the vitamins in the veg keep you bulletproof.


Vegan Meatballs and Tagliatelle

a tasty dinner – that is easy to make and will replace lost carbs from today’s efforts on the bike or put some fuel back in the tank ready for tomorrows spin out.  

meatballs and tagliatelle
vegan meatballs and tagliatelle

for 2 x hungry people you need –

  • 1 x tablespoon of coconut oil, olive oil or similar
  • 1 x red onion – diced
  • 2 x garlic cloves – crushed and finely chopped
  • 2 x sprigs of fresh thyme – or 1 x teaspoon of dried
  • 1 x 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • packet of bought vegan – quorn or similar “meatballs” we used spinach and kale – and often use a version made from peas
  • packet of baby spinach leaves
  • 3 or 4 balls of dried or fresh tagliatelle per person
  • stock cube – optional
  • bunch of fresh chopped basil leaves to garnish
  • grated or soft cheese (optional)

to make –

  • pre heat oven to 200o c – or per instructions on meatballs packet
  • spread meatballs onto baking tray and place in centre of hot oven – for around 15 minutes – as per instructions of packaging
  • bring a pan of water to the boil ready to cook pasta
  • add cooking oil to large wok, frying pan or saucepan pan over a medium heat
  • add onion, garlic and thyme hot melted oil to fry for 2 x minutes or until they start to soften – stirring all the time
  • add chopped tomatoes and half can of water or stock (optional)
  • bring mix to a boil – reduce heat to a simmer
  • add balls of tagliatelle to boiling water and cook for around 5 x minutes or to your taste
  • drain the water from the pasta
  • remove meatballs from oven and check they are all cooked through
  • add meatballs and spinach to tomato sauce and simmer from a couple of minutes
  • to serve there are 2 x options – place pasta onto plates and cover in meatballs and sauce or we tend to add the pasta to the meatballs and sauce – mix up and serve
  • garnish with basil leaves and grated or soft cheese (both optional)

a hearty low fat dinner – full of much needed carbs to recover or prepare for you next bout of hard exercise – enjoy with a cheeky glass of wine for the full effect