Get into... sportive riding
Published 3 October 2011
If you're a fairly strong cyclist looking for a bit of a challenge, why not try your hand at a sportive?
Sportives are long distance organised events – the cycling equivalent of running a marathon – which involve completing a set route within a particular time limit. Typically ranging from anywhere between 50 and 150 miles, they're becoming increasingly popular, with events now being staged all year round.
Sportive routes are usually pretty challenging, with long, steep climbs and descents, testing all round bike riding skills rather than flat-out speed. There are also an increasing number of women-only sportive events, such as Cycletta.
The most famous sportive event is L'Etape du Tour, which takes thousands of riders over the hardest mountain stage of the Tour de France. Other famous sportives include La Marmotte in the French Alps and the Raid Pyrenee. In Italy sportives are referred to as Gran Fondos, a term which as also been used on some UK based sportives.
Many sportives offer ‘small, medium and large' route options, which makes the whole event attractive to a wide range of riders. Events range from 3,000+ rider sell-outs, right down to events with only a couple of hundred participants. This gives you the option of taking part just for the camaraderie and thrill of being part of a huge group of riders (sometimes on fully closed roads), giving yourself a serious challenge against the clock, or simply riding in a nice part of the countryside.
Sportives are a great way of challenging yourself, learning about road riding and getting fit. If you'd like to find out more about upcoming events, visit the the Sportive section of the British Cycling website.