Best cycling sportives for beginners

Our round-up of the best sportives in the UK for beginner riders

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.

>>> Best cycling sportives near London

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.

>>> Beginner cyclist: tips and tricks to get you off to the best start

The Rocket

When: February 11

Where: Amberley, West Sussex

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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.

Ware's Cambridge?

Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire offer quiet lanes close to London

When: March 12

Where: Ware, Hertforshire

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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.

>>> Best cycling sportives in Yorkshire

Wiggle Spring Saddle Sportive

When: March 26

Where: Newmarket, Suffolk

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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.

>>> 12 best upcoming cycling events to ride

Hemel Hillbuster II

When: April 23

Where: Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

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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.

The Arrow

The Arrow sticks mainly to the flatlands
(Image credit: chris catchpole)

When: May 6

Where: Market Rasen, Lincolnshire

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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.

>>> Best cycling sportives near Cambridge

Iron Mountain Sportif

When: June 24

Where: Abergavenny, Gwent

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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).

>>> Best cycling sportives near Bristol

Wiggle Northern Angel Sportive

When: August 13

Where: Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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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

Spectacular scenery awaits you in the Wye Valley

When: August 19

Where: Chepstow, Monmouthshire

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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.

>>> Best cycling sportives in Scotland

Cross Border Sportive

When: September 3

Where: Lanercost, Cumbria

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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.

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.