If you’re new to riding, then there are more cycling sportives for beginners than ever before, with plenty of events offering shorter, flatter, but no less scenic routes to go along with the hard sportives for stronger riders.
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You can also rely on most events these days to offer basic levels of mechanical assistance, so although you will have to fix your own punctures (sorry!), if you suffer something more serious then you’ll be given help to sort it out.
When: February 11
Where: Amberley, West Sussex
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/the-rocket-sportive
This early season event is the perfect sportive for newer and experienced riders alike to find their legs for the months ahead. The shortest route is just 16 miles in length, but still manages to take in some pretty South Downs countryside, plus the option of a 33 mile route if you’re feeling a little more confident in your ability.
When: March 12
Where: Ware, Hertforshire
More information: www.sportiveuk.co.uk
Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire might not exactly be world-renowned for their spectacular riding, but they can still boast some quiet lanes with barely a car in sight, perfect for new riders looking to escape London at the weekend. The shortest 30 mile route heads north from Ware, and includes a well-stocked feed station just past half distance.
Wiggle Spring Saddle Sportive
When: March 26
Where: Newmarket, Suffolk
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-spring-saddle-sportive
Another East Anglian event for your diary, the Wiggle Spring Saddle starts and finishes in the salubrious surroundings of Newmarket Racecourse, taking in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and Essex over the course of the 40 mile short route. The terrain is generally flat, and what hills there are will test you without leaving you on your knees.
Hemel Hillbuster II
When: April 23
Where: Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
More information: www.dens.org.uk/events/the_hemel_hillbuster_ii_e11
Even if you’re completely new to cycling, 25km doesn’t seem like a long way. However, don’t underestimate this event, because as you can probably tell from the name, there is barely a metre of flat road. If you’re feeling a little more ambitious then there is also a 60km option, but whatever route you choose, you can look forward to hot food to warm you up once you get back to HQ.
When: May 6
Where: Market Rasen, Lincolnshire
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/cycling-weekly-the-arrow-sportive
For riders who are less enthused by the prospect of lots of climbing, The Arrow is the perfect event. Covering 52 miles, it’s certainly not short, but most of the route sticks to the flatlands around Lincoln, with only a bit of uphill to catch you out at the end.
Iron Mountain Sportif
When: June 24
Where: Abergavenny, Gwent
More information: www.abergavennyfestivalofcycling.co.uk/index.php/sportif-2017
Held as part of the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling, the Iron Mountain Sportif offers a range of routes, including 20 and 40 mile options. The shorter routes heads south along the River Usk with only one major climb to tackle, while the 40 mile route offers more climbing as it loops east towards the English border (although there is at least a downhill finish back into Abergavenny).
Wiggle Northern Angel Sportive
When: August 13
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-northern-angel-sportive
Northumberland is another part of the world that is underappreciated as a cycling destination, with quiet roads crossing spectacular landscapes. This event is easy to get to, as it starts just on the outskirts of Newcastle, with plenty of support and well-signed routes so there’s no chance of anything going wrong.
Wiggle Wye Valley Warrior
When: August 19
Where: Chepstow, Monmouthshire
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-wye-valley-warrior-sportive
Starting and finishing in Chepstow, the organisers of the Wye Valley Warrior have been kind enough to offer a flat 15 mile warm up along the River Wye to get your legs going at the start of the ride. The bad news is that you do eventually have to climb up out of the valley, but you do at least have a downhill run to the finish on the banks of the Severn Estuary.
Cross Border Sportive
When: September 3
Where: Lanercost, Cumbria
More information: www.crossbordersportive.wordpress.com
As you can probably guess from the name, this sportive takes in two countries, heading over the border into Scotland for a significant part of the route. Most of the climbing is out of the way early on the shortest 30 mile route, although if you fancy a bit more of a challenge at the end of the season, then the 50 mile option could be do-able too.