We pick out some of the highlights of the 2017 cycling sportive calendar around the Bristol area
Bristol is a real gateway part of Britain. Whichever way you head from the city there is countryside to interest the cyclist, with Wales, the Cotswolds and the Malvern Hills just a stone’s throw away.
If hills aren’t your thing, the Somerset Levels aren’t to far away either. In short there’s something for every cyclist near Bristol.
Evans Bristol Road Sportive
When: Sunday February 5
Where: Hengrove Park Liesure Centre, Hengrove Promenade, Bristol
More information: www.evanscycles.com/evans-cycles-bristol-road-sportive-sunday-5th-february-2017-EV289337
If you’re riding from Bristol to the Somerset Levels you have to take a detour to avoid the hills and in this sportive you’ll be climbing from the off. You do, however, take that detour, taking a brief trip towards the coast, before the 71-mile route takes you south, through the Mendips, unusually taking you down Cheddar Gorge. After the flatness of the Levels, you’ll be up and down all the way back to Bristol.
Cycling Weekly Wiltshire Wildcat
When: Saturday March 4
Where: Salisbury Racecourse, Netherhampton, Salisbury, Wiltshire
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/cycling-weekly-wiltshire-wildcat-sportive/
You’ll find the longest, toughest climbs at the start of this early season event. At 81 miles, this is decent work-out for the time of year, and with over 4,000 feet of climbing most will need at least a little preparation. Heading west, you’ll cross Salisbury Plain, then enter Dorset before heading south, in a loop back to the start.
Cotswold Spring Classic Sportive
When: Monday April 17
Where: Cirencester Deer Park School, Stroud Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
More information: www.veloevents.co.uk/csc/index.php
If supporting the Against Breast Cancer charity doesn’t do enough to make this a worthwhile event, then the route will. There are three distances to chose from, but the 101-mile course will grab the interest, especially with over 9,000 feet of climbing made all the more daunting by its early season date.
Black Rat Challenge
When: Sunday May 21
Where: Marlwood School, Alveston, Bristol
More information: www.blackratcycle.co.uk
Very few sportives take you through two countries or allow you to ride over a suspension bridge, but the Black Rat Challenge does. Starting just north of Bristol the ride takes you across the Severn Bridge into Wales, before heading north and looping back through the Forest of Dean. Despite a stiff climb early on, it is here you will find the main ascents of the day.
Great Western Sportive
When: Sunday June 18
Where: Nationwide HQ, Pipers Way, Swindon, Wiltshire
More information: www.southernsportive.com/great-western-sportive/
Just off the M4 and easy to get to, the Great Western is based nearly entirely on the Wiltshire Downs where you’ll find wide open expanses, testing climbs and white horses cut into the chalk hillsides. There are three routes to chose from with the 100 miler likely to grab the attention of hardcore sportivistes, though the 74- and 52-mile events will appeal to others.
When: Sunday July 2
Where: The Recreation Ground, William Street, Bath
More information: www.bikebath.co.uk
Bath itself is surrounded with hills, and the climbing for both the 50- and 80-mile routes begins from the start. However, as the longer route progresses the terrain becomes more undulating than hilly. That’s not to say it is not tough. There are some decent climbs over the 4,103 feet of ascent, but with Bath in the Avon valley, you descend to the finish.
The Wiggle Magnificat Sportive
When: Sunday July 9
Where: Newbury Showground, Hermitage, Thatcham, Berkshire.
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-magnificat-sportive/
One of the most established sportives on the calendar, 2017 will be the 11th running of the Magnificat. The toughest of the 6,500 feet of climbing the 124-mile Black route boasts is in the early miles, though if that is too much for you, there’s always the Epic, which at 100 miles is still a hefty challenge.
Wiggle Cotswolds Sportive
When: Saturday July 15
Where: The Fire Service College, London Rd., Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-cheltenham-cotwsolds-sportive/
Boasting some steep climbs, the Cotswolds is one of England’s most beautiful areas. While riders on all three of the available routes will visit some of its picturesque climbs, those tackling the 102-mile Epic will face the pleasure of eight arrow straight miles along Buckle Street, an old Roman road, before tackling the toughest ascent of the day.
Wiggle Wye Valley Warrior
When: Saturday August 19
Where: Chepstow Racecourse, Chepstow, Monmouthshire
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-wye-valley-warrior-sportive/
When even the short 41-mile route has 3,215 feet of climbing you know you are in for a tough day in the saddle. With plenty of long hard climbs, the 102-mile route is a tough test, though its mid-August date is at least likely to coincide with peak form.
Wiggle Mendips Sportive
When: Saturday September 9
Where: Strode College Sport Centre, Church Road Street, Somerset.
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-mendips-sportive/
This sportive may start and finish on the flat lands of Somerset, but the middle miles of the 99- and 65-mile routes contain some serious climbing, tackling the Mendip Hills. Though some of the earlier climbs are the more difficult, the final ascent of the day is through the stunning Cheddar Gorge, before the final flat miles.
Cycling Weekly Malvern Mad Hatter Sportive
When: Saturday September 30
Where: Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Eastnor, Ledbury, Herefordshire
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/cycling-weekly-malvern-mad-hatter-sportive/
The Mad Hatter visits three of England’s most beautiful counties; Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, and with it both the Malverns and Cotswolds. Despite this it is not the hilliest of events, with the climb of Great Malvern the toughest of the day. The three distances range from 30 to 100 miles.
Evans Cycles Wiltshire Road Sportive
When: Sunday October 22
Where: Wiltshire College, Lackham, Lacock, Chippenham, Wiltshire
More information: www.evanscycles.com/evans-cycles-wiltshire-road-sportive-sunday-22nd-october-2017-EV292096
Set in the northern part of Wiltshire, not far from the M4 corridor, this late season event will be easy to get to. Once there the 80-mile route will take you onto the Wiltshire and Marlborough Downs, passing the famous white horses. With 4,000 feet of climbing this is a decent test to wind down your cycling year.