Cyclosportive and cycling events calendar 2019

Our pick of 2019 cycling sportives and other cycling events around the UK and beyond

Welcome to Cycling Weekly‘s listing of 2019 cycling sportives and events.

Having a goal in the calendar can provide motivation to get you out and riding, so we’ve rounded up a range of events to help you plan your calendar for the year ahead.

If you’re new to cycling sportives, we’ve also explained what exactly they are – with information to help you train and prepare for your first mass participation cycling event.

Events are arranged in chronological order. Click on the event headline or ‘View’ to go to that event’s website and online entry.

Jump to: | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December | January | February |Sportives explained


March


ARUK No Excuses – South West

Date: Sat, 09 Mar 2019
Distance: 45, 70 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View



Eden Valley Epic Sportive

Date: Sun, 03 Mar 2019
Distance: 60 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: England
View


Drover Cycles Shropshire Devil Sportive

Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: West Midlands
View


Sigma Sports Wiltshire Wildcat

Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2019
Distance: 30, 61, 81 miles
Discipline: sportive
Region: South West
View


Cotswold Cyclo, Oxfordshire & Cotswolds

Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Midlands
View


The Burgess Hill Springtime Classic Cyclosportive

Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: England
View


Sigma Sports Surrey Cyclone

Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2019
Distance: 37, 53, 77 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South East
View


British Heart Foundation London to Reading Bike Ride

Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2019
Distance: 41 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: London
View


Mad March Hare Sportive

Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2019
Distance: 66 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: West Midlands
View


Mad Summer Hare Sportive

Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2019
Distance: 102 miles
Discipline: Road
Region: Midlands
View


Haldon Heroic CX Sportive

Date: Sat, 30 Mar 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Sigma Sports Suffolk Spring Classic Sportive

Date: Sat, 30 Mar 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: East
View



Triathlon Show: London

Date: Fri, 29-31 March 2019
Discipline: Cycle Shows
Region: London
View


The London Bike Show

Date: Fri, 29-31 March 2019
Discipline: Cycle Shows
Region: London
View


RIDE IT South Wales Road Sportive

Date: Sun, 31 March
Distance: 51km / 78km / 122km
Discipline: Road Sportive
Region: Gwent, South Wales

April

UKCE Vale Velo Sportive

Date: Sat, 06 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Yorkshire
View



Quest Glendalough Adventure Race 21 April

Date: Sat, 06 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Adventure
Region: N.Ireland
View


RideStaffs Spring Forward

Date: Sun, 07 Apr 2019
Distance: 53 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: England
View


Bostin’ Chase Sportive

Date: Sun 07 Apr 2019
Distance: 40, 60, 75 miles
Discipline: Sportive
Region: Midlands
View


Dartmoor Cycling Camp

Date: Fri, 05 to Tues, 09 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Training camp
Region: South West
View


Richardsons Rumble “Come and Try Sportive”

Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: East
View


Freewheel New Forest Spring Saturday

Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South East
View


Freewheel New Forest Spring Sunday

Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South East
View



The Giant Rutland CiCLE Tour

Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: East Midlands
View


 

The Rutland Cicle Tour Sportif

Date: Sat, 27 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Midlands
View


Brewin Dolphin Rideway Rouleur

Date: Sat, 27 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South

View


Ride the hills of the Tour de Yorkshire with Simon Warren

Date: Sat, 27 Apr 2019
Distance: 135km
Discipline: Challenge
Region: West Yorkshire
View


Heart of the Wolds Cycle Sportive

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Yorkshire & Humber
View


Etape Loch Ness

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2019
Distance: 66 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Scotland
View


Hammer Sportive! Salcombe, Devon

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


The Sharpener

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2019
Distance: 62.1 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: London
View


Heart of the Wolds sportive

Date: Sun, 28 Arp 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Road
Region: England
View


Tour De Forts Classic

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2019
Distance: 100 miles
Discipline: On Road
Region: North America
View


Colne Valley Charity Cycle Ride

Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2019
Distance: 80 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South East
View


May


Yorkshire cycling weekend featuring le Tour de Yorkshire

Date: Fri, 03 May to Monday, 06 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Road weekend
Region: Yorkshire & Humber
View


London Wales London

Date: Sat, 04 May 2019
Distance: 407 kilometres
Discipline: Audax
Region: South East
View


Sigma Sports Dartmoor DemonDartmoor Demon

Date: Sat, 4 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Pedal for The J’s

Date: Sun, 05 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Leisure
Region: South East
View


Forest of Dean Classic 

Date: Sun, 05 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Wales
View


Tour de Manc Sportive 

Date: Sun, 05 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: North West
View


Tour de Yorkshire Ride

Date: Sun, 05 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Road
Region: Yorkshire & Humber
View


Hertfordshire 100 Bike Ride

Date: Sunday 5 May 2019
Distance: 25, 50, 100 miles
Discipline: Sportive / Leisure Ride
Region: East
View


Bostin’ Diablo Sportive

Date: Sun, 05 May 2019
Distance: 40, 75, 100 miles
Discipline: Sportive
Region: Staffordshire
View


May Day Chilterns Audax

Date: Mon, 06 May 2019
Distance: 203 or 106 kilometres
Discipline: Audax
Region: South East
View


The Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive

Date: Sat, 11 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: East Midlands
View


Fat Lad At The Back Up North Sportive

Date: Sat, 11 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Yorkshire & Humber
View


Ochil HillsBrewin Dolphin Ochil Hills

Date: Sun, 12 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Scotland
View


Pedal for Scotland – Wee Jaunt Falkirk

Date: Sun, 12 May 2019
Distance: 7.5 miles
Discipline: Off Road
Region: Scotland
View


Glasgow City Mission’s Big Arran Challenge

Date: Sat, 11 May 2019
Distance: 57 miles
Discipline: Road
Region: Scotland
View


Spring Classic Sportive

Date: Sun, 12 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: England
View


British Heart Foundation Cotswolds Bike Ride

Date: Sun, 12 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Cambridge 100 / 60 / 30 Bike Ride

Date: Sunday 12 May 2019
Distance: 30, 60, 100 miles
Discipline: Sportive / Leisure Ride
Region: East
View


Haute Route: Asheville

Date: Fri, 17 May to Sun, 19 2019
Distance: 0 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: North America
View


Jurassic BeastUKCE Jurassic Beast

Date: Sat, 18 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Milton Keynes 100 Sportive

Date: Sat, 18 May
Distance: 64km / 102km / 163km
Discipline: Road Sportive
Region: Gwent, South Wales

Little Lumpy

Date: Sun, 19 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South East
View


Ride Chartridge

Date: Sun, 19 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Road
Region: South East
View


May Flyer

Date: Sun, 19 May 2019
Distance: 95.1 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South East
View


Kelly’s Cycle Challenge

Date: Sun, 19 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Road
Region: South East
View


Arrow sportiveSigma Sports Arrow

Date: Sun, 26 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Road
Region: East Midlands
View


Tour of Wessex – Stage 1

Date: Sat, 25 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Struggle Dales

Date: Sun, 26 May 2019
Distance: 108 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Yorkshire & Humber
View


Tour of Wessex – Stage 2

Date: Sun, 26 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Tilting at Windmills

Date: Sun, 26 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: East
View


Tour of Wessex – Stage 3

Date: Mon, 27 May 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


June

Ripon Revolution Sportive 2015 women finish line


Tour of Cambridgeshire Festival

Date: Sat, 01 and Sun, 02 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Gran Fondo, Time Trial, family events
Region: East
View


Haworth, Hebden Bridge and Widdop Moor

Date: Sun, 02 Jun 2019
Distance: 99km
Discipline:  Challenge
Region: West Yorkshire
View


UKCE Malvern Mad Hatter

Date: Sun, 02 Jun 2019
Distance: 31, 62, 100 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: West Midlands
View


Giant Kendal – Castle Sportive

Date: Sun, 02 Jun 2019
Distance: 62.1 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: North West
View


Le Petit Depart Sportive

Date: Sun, 02 Jun 2019
Distance: 80 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: England
View


The Smuggler Sportive

Date: Sun, 02 Jun 2019
Distance: 40, 50 & 80 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Dragon Ride Étape Wales

Date: Fri, 07 to Sun, 09 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Wales
View


Haute Route: Dolomites

Date: Fri, 07 to Sun, 09 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Italy
View


Dallaglio Track FestDallaglio TrackFest

Date: Sun, 09 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline:Road
Region: South East
View


King Of the Downs Challenge Ride

Date: 9th June
Distance: 86km / 98km / 184km
Discipline: Road, Sportive
Region: West Sussex

Norwich 100 / 60 / 30 Bike Ride

Date: Sunday 9 June 2019
Distance: 30, 60, 100 miles
Discipline: Sportive / Leisure Ride
Region: East
View


Thinking of Oscar #TOO500

Date: 12 Jun – 16 Jun 2019
Distance: 500 miles or 5×100
Discipline: Challenge
Region: National
View


Nottinghamshire WheelerUKCE Nottinghamshire Wheeler

Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: East Midlands
View

 



Suie Classic as part of The Great Inverurie Bike Ride

Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Scotland
View


Bostin’ Vyrnwy Velo Sportive

Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2019
Distance: 40, 70, 80 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Wales
View


Circuito Del Caffe

Date: Sun, 23 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Haute Route Mavic Rockies

Date: Sat, 22 to Fri, 28 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Multi-day
Region: Rest Of World
View


White Rose Classic

Date: Sun, 23 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Yorkshire & Humber
View


Iron Mountain Sportif

Date: Sun, 29 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Road
Region: Wales
View


Le Loop (previously Tour de Force)

Date: Sat, 29 Jun to 21 July 2019
Distance: Entire Tour de France route
Discipline: Mutli-day
Region: France
View


New Forest SummerBrewin Dolphin New Forest Summer

Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South East
View


Samaritans Cycle

Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: London
View


The North Yorkshire Moors with Simon Warren

Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2019
Distance: 145km
Discipline: Challenge
Region: London
View


Bostin’ Bridge Sportive

Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2019
Distance: 30, 60, 75 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Shropshire
View


Ryedale Rumble

Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Yorkshire & Humber
View


July


Cyclone Challenge Rides

Date: Sat, 6 Jul 2019
Distance: 34, 64, 90 106 miles
Discipline: sportive
Region: North East
View


UKCE French Revolution

Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2019
Distance: Various
Region: France
View


Leeds 100 Sportive

Date: 7th July
Distance: 61km / 100km / 163km
Discipline: Road Sportive
Region: Leeds, Yorkshire

Broughton Castle Sportive

Date: Sun, 07 Jul 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Midlands
View


Haute Route: Alpe D’Huez

Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2019
Distance: 0 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: France
View


Round Norfolk Epic Multi day event (2 days)

Date: Sat, 13 and Sun, 14 Jul 2019
Distance: 200 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: East

View


Haute Route: Alpe d’Huez

Date: Sat, 13 to Sun, 14 Jul 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Multiday
Region: North America

View


West Coast Classic

Sigma Sports West Coast Classic

Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: North West
View


Round Norfolk Epic 200 miles

Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2019
Distance: 200 miles
Discipline: Road Race
Region: East
View


Dragon Ride – Étape Wales

Date: Sun, 14 July 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportive
Region: Wales
View


Great Weston Ride

Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2019
Distance: 57 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Bostin’ Peak Sportive

Date: Sun, 14 July 2019
Discipline: 40, 70, 100 miles
Region: South West
View


Ride CotswoldsUKCE Ride Cotswolds Sportive

Date: Sat, 20 Jul 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Essex Castle Bike Ride

Date: Saturday 20 July 2019
Distance: 25, 50, 75 miles
Discipline: Sportive / Leisure Ride
Region: East
View


Taunton Flyer Sportive

Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Cheshire 100 Sportive

Date: Sun, 21 July 2019
Distance: 101km / 161km
Discipline: Road Sportive
Region: Cheshire

Sigma Sports Mendips Sportive 

Date: Sat, 27 Jul 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: France
View


August


Haute Route: Norway

Date: Fri, 02 to Sun 04 Aug 2019
Distance: 272km
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Europe
View


2019 UCI World Championships route

Date: Sat 10 Aug 2019
Distance: 175km
Discipline: Challenge
Region: West Yorkshire
View


Tour of the Weald KOM

Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2019
Distance: 116km
Discipline: Sportive
Region: South East
View


Sigma Sports Ride Yorkshire

Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South East
View


MagnificatOrro MagnifiCat Sportive

Date: Sat, 17 Aug 2019
Distance: 30, 72, 102, 125 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Berkshire
View


GravelcatOrro GravelCat Adventure Ride

Date: Sun, 18 Aug 2019
Distance: 43, 55 miles
Discipline: Gravel ride
Region: Berkshire
View


Haute Route: Pyrenees

Date: Sat, 17 to Fri 23 Aug 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Multiday
Region: France
View


Eroica Britannia

Date: Sun, 18 August 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Festival, cycle show and sportive
Region: East Midlands
View


Haute Route: Utah

Date: Fri, 23 to Sun 25 Aug 2019
Distance: 0 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: North America
View


Ride WarwickshireUKCE Ride Warwickshire Sportive

Date: Sat, 24 Aug 2019
Distance: 34, 80, 101 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: West Midlands
View


Winking Sheep

Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: North East
View


Wye TourUKCE Wye Tour

Date: Sat, 31 Aug 2019
Distance: 36, 69, 95 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Wales
View


Quest 12/24 long distance adventure race – 25th Aug

Date: Sat, 31 Aug 2019
Distance: 0 miles
Discipline: On Road
Region: N.Ireland
View


 


September

Le Petit Grand Prix

Date: Sun, 01 Sep 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: East Midlands
View


Cross Border Sportive

Date: Sun, 01 Sep 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: North West
View


Yorkshire Cancer Research Selby Three Swans Sportive

Date: Sun, 01 Sep 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Yorkshire & Humber
View


Deloitte Ride Across Britain

Date: Sat, 07 to Sun 15 Sep 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Road
View


The Rotary Dorset Bike Ride in aid of Cancer Research UK

Date: Sun, 08 Sep 2019
Distance: 100 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Pedal for Scotland

Date: Sun, 08 Sep 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: On Road
Region: Scotland
View


New Forest 100UKCE New Forest 100 Saturday

Date: Sat, 14 and Sun, 15 Sep 2019
Distance: 30, 59, 100 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South East
View


Revolve24 | Endurance Cycling Challenges

Date: Sat, 14 and Sun, 15 Sep 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Road Race
Region: South East
View


Seashell Sportive

Date: Sun, 15 Sep 2019
Distance: 105 miles
Discipline: Road
Region: North West
View


Haute Route: Stelvio

Date: Fri, 20 to Sun, 22 Sep 2019
Distance: 0 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Italy
View


Peaks TourUKCE Peaks Tour

Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2019
Distance: 55, 75, 100 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Midlands
View


Land’s End 100 Sportive

Date: Sat, 21 Sept 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


The Howler

Date: Sun, 22 Sept 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: South West
View


Isle of Man CC (Cycle Challenge)

Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: On Road
Region: North West
View


Poppyscotland Sportive

Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Scotland
View


 


October

Haute Route: Ventoux

Date: Fri, 04 to Sun, 06 Oct 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: France
View


Box Hill SportiveSigma Sports Box Hill Original Sportive

Date: Sat, 05 Oct 2019
Distance: 33, 72, 99 miles
Discipline: Sportive
Region: South East
View


Quest Killarney Adventure Race

Date: Sat, 12 Oct 2019
Distance: Various
Discipline: Adventure
Region: N.Ireland
View


Ay Up YorkshireUKCE Aye Up Yorkshire

Date: Sat, 12 Oct 2019
Distance: 52, 82, 100 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Yorkshire
View


Cobbler ClassicSigma Sports Cobbler Classic

Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2019
Distance: 26, 64, 102 miles
Discipline: Spotive
Region: Northamptonshire
View


Cycle Expo Yorkshire

Date: Sat, 21 and Sun, 22 October 2019
Discipline: All
Region: Yorkshire
View


November


Thetford Sportive Cross

Date: 23rd November
Distance: 68km / 85km
Discipline: Cyclocross Sportive
Region: Thetford, Norfolk


December

yorkshire hills sportive riding


No events listed yet


January

No events listed yet


February

Starley Sportive

Date: TBC
Distance: Various
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Midlands
View


The Rawlinson Bracket 

Date: TBC
Distance: 93 or 55 kilometres
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Midlands
View


UKCE Cambridgeshire Classic

Date: TBC
Distance: 34, 52, 70 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: East
View


March

ARUK No Excuses – Midlands

Date: TBC
Distance: 44, 64, 83 miles
Discipline: Sportives
Region: Midlands
View

What is a sportive?

A cycling sportive is a mass participation, organised cycling event.

Distances and climbing profiles vary dramatically between rides – meaning there is a sportive out there to suit every rider, from the complete beginner to the competitive racer looking for a challenge.

Traditionally, sportives take place on the road – but there are off-road options including gravel and ‘adventure’ rides and mountain bike events too.

Where can I find sportives in 2019?

There are many calendar resources that can help you find events either in your area, or covering the sort of distance you’re looking at.

If you want suggestions as to the best ones to ride, we’ve got info on sportives we’d recommend in the UK, abroad, and those in the immediate future:

For a collection of sportives organised by UK Cycling Events, just click on the banner below.

 

What’s the difference between a sportive and a gran fondo?

Cycling sportives in the UK are not races.

In fact, organisers are often barred from listing finish times in order, in an attempt to reduce the chances of riders adopting a ‘heads down’ mentality.

>>> Sportive listings: check out UK sportives 

Some do provide ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’ (or similar) time standards, giving those with a goal in mind something to work towards – but any achievements are based on personal accomplishment, not competitive spirit.

sportive gran fondo

Gran Fondo’s are much more race focused

Sportives are designed to bring groups of riders together, creating a feeling of camaraderie as everyone completes the route in friendly conditions.

Closely related to sportives, but not quite the same, are gran fondos. With their roots in Europe, gran fondos are races – and they recently arrived in the UK.

The Tour of Cambridgeshire, as an example, is an annual UK gran fondo. You can enter to ride in the competitive Gran Fondo wave, or just ride it as a sportive. The event forms part of the UCI Gran Fondo series – riders can use the ride to gain a place at the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships typically taking place in August.

What can you expect at a sportive?

Sportive entry costs vary between events – and as a result so do the facilities and services provided.

Events run by UK Cycling Events, for example, cost between £31 and £40 (or £3 for under 16s).

Facilities at these event include mechanical and medical support, full route marking, public liability insurance, food and drink at feed stations, a finisher gift and medal and a ‘pick up wagon’ in case you run out of steam.

sportive

Expect feed stations at a sportive

Key provisions you can expect at all sportives are route marking, and feed stations – these are pretty fundamental to ensuring everyone has a good day out.

Many organisers will also email out GPX files for the route in advance, so riders can follow turn-by-turn navigation.

How long is a sportive?

There really is a sportive out there for everybody.

Most organisers promote one day of rides, with several routes on offer.

>>> 20 of the best sportives to ride in the UK

Shorter options are usually in the region of 25-30 miles, whilst the classic long route option is frequently 100 miles – though there are some super sportives which are much longer.

The organiser will usually list the elevation information alongside the event, too, and it’s worth checking this and comparing it to the rides you’re used to completing to give you an idea what to expect.

Closed road sportives

There are several closed road sportives taking place in the UK – the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 (and its 46 mile younger sibling) – is probably the most famous.

The RideLondon event enjoys entirely closed roads – in 2017 around 24,000 riders took on the 100 mile ride and over 100,000 people took part in events over the weekend.

Riders in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 pass through Richmond Park. Photo by Jed Leicester for Prudential RideLondon

Closed road sportives are generally more expensive – RideLondon, for example, comes with a price tag of £69. However, in return riders enjoy the almost indescribable feeling of a group of cyclists truly owning the road for a day and these rides often attract masses of cheering spectators that can make even the shyest heart swell.

What sort of bike do you need for a sportive?

You can complete a sportive on any road worthy bike – it’s not uncommon to see people completing the road miles on mountain bikes and hybrid bikes are very common.

The most dominant bike choice at the average sportive is the road bike – the drop handlebars provide varied hand positions for climbing, descending and flat road full gas efforts (should you feel inclined). Lightweight frames and speedy 23-25mm road tyres help the miles float by easily, too.

For those looking to invest in a bike, with sportives at front of mind, there is also a genre of road bike designed specifically for rides of this kind. Sportive, or endurance, bikes feature lightweight frames, drop handlebars and fairly skinny tyres – as per the conventions of a road bike – but with a focus on comfort for long days out.

Features include a more relaxed geometry, all-weather ready disc brakes and often tyres on the wider end of the scale (28-30mm).

What happens when you arrive at a sportive?

Most sportives follow a fairly similar format.

Usually, you’ll receive specific instructions around parking, signing on and GPX files before the big day.

On arrival, you can expect to be ushered into a car park if driving. Then you’ll sign on, perhaps gain yourself a place in a seeming endless queue for the toilet – before wheeling your bike to the start line.

sportive

Lining up ready for the start of a sportive

It’s likely there will be a timing chip attached to you or your bike, and once you roll over the line you’re on your way.

Riders will often group together and share the workload, but you’re more than welcome to ride alone. You’ll just need to follow the arrows laid out along the route – and there will likely be feed stops along the way to keep your energy levels topped up.

>>> Guide to group riding 

Assuming all goes well, you’ll continue to follow the arrows until you reach the finish. In many cases, there will be a ride split, where you can opt to decrease your distance if you’ve planned on doing the longest distance and changed your mind.

Arriving at the finish, you may be presented with a medal or gift, and there’s often someone there to give you a massage for a small fee. Free for everyone is a glowing sense of achievement and likely a dose of ravenous hunger.

If you bump into any trouble, you should have an organisers number and the option of calling for help if need be.

What should you take to a sportive?

Organised sportives will feature feed stations, and there should be someone on hand to lend mechanical support if need be.

However – you do need to be self sufficient in the face of the most common eventualities: needing food and drink, and getting a puncture.

>>> Guide to nutrition during a sportive 

Whilst you can expect feed stations to be well stocked (UK Cycling Events works with Science in Sport to provide nutrition) – you cannot guarantee the food and drink on offer will agree with your stomach, and you might want nibbles between the stops.

sportive

Take basic puncture repair kit and tools, just in case

It’s also worth taking a spare tube, tyre levels and a pump or Co2, as you would on a normal ride. Though there will be someone on staff able to fix a puncture, you’d have to wait for them to get to you – so it’s a lot quicker if you take items needed to fix one yourself much quicker.

>>> The best saddlebags to keep your cycling essentials in 

Dressing well is key to having a good day too. You may be out for several hours, and it’s possible that weather conditions could change, so pack provisions to cater for this, such as a gilet, or waterproof packable jacket, providing you with the versatility required to stay comfy.


>>> What to pack for every sportive

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As with any long ride, a pair of comfortable shorts or bib tights with a quality chamois will help to keep you comfortable. A base layer under your jersey is also a good idea, to stop sweat cooling on your skin at stops, and most events require you to wear a helmet.

How do you prepare for a sportive?

The training plan you put in place ahead of your sportive will be dictated by what your goal event is, and where you are now.

Regardless of the distance between your two goal posts, the number one rule is that you should build up an increase in distance gradually.

>>> Cycling training plans

Most riders plan their training around shorter rides during the week, and a long ride on the weekend. For a sportive rider, the long ride will often be the ‘key session’ and this can be used to build distance.

For example, if your target ride is going to be 100 miles, and your longest ride so far has been 50 miles, then you just need to gradually increase the milage of your weekly long ride – in the region of five extra miles each week.

It’s also a good idea to add a ‘milestone’ training event along the way – for example enter a sportive of 75 miles a month or so before your big day.

Expect climbs on many sportives

Many sportive place a heavy emphasis on climbing – so your short rides in the week can be used to work on this. If you need to do them indoors, try some power hour turbo sessions to increase your leg strength – and if you have the chance to train outdoors during the week, try some longer hill rep sessions to prepare you for the ascents.

>>> 10 ways to improve your climbing

Since what comes up must go down, work on your descending too, so you can be sure of enjoying the thrills on the day.

Are you training for a sportive? Tell us about your upcoming events in the comments…