Thanks to ever-changing lockdown restrictions, planning an event calendar has proved difficult lately. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is a variety of sportives to look forward to. We’ve compiled a list of road, MTB and gravel epics, all great events to use as a goal, put your training to good use or even try something completely new.
Get yourself and your road bike in tip-top condition in time for these sportives.
When: 21 August 2021
Where: Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire
The Cotswold Classic is part of the UK Cycling Events series, a collection of rides that celebrate the very best of the English countryside. Designed with every type of rider in mind, there is a 50km, 89km and 120km route option. Every course takes you through the Cotswolds AONB and features a series of punchy climbs as well as a string of charming medieval villages.
Fred Whitton Challenge
When: 19 September 2021
Where: Grasmere, Cumbria
Availability: Guaranteed entry with charity spot
Now in its twentieth year, the most notorious sportive in the UK has always been a rite of passage for seasoned riders. Run over a 181km route and with close to 4,000 metres of elevation, including famous passes like Hardknott, Whinlatter and Honister, this really has to be the UK’s toughest sportive. As for views, it’s hard to beat the open vistas and lush rolling mountains of the Lake District.
Tour of Cambridgeshire 100 Sportive
When: 26 September 2021
Where: East of England Showground, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
Availability: Limited 10,000 riders but still have spaces in most distances
The ToC100 Sportive is part of a huge weekend festival of cycling which incorporates the UCI Gran Fondo World Series qualifying event, the 100-mile ride is held on entirely closed roads. This makes it an anomaly in the UK and a great event for beginners. With 762 metres of elevation over the course it will be a heavy day for the legs but not a brutal one as you explore this beautiful county. They’ve got loads of different events across the weekend, with activities for all the family, as well as camping (and glamping!) if you fancy making a weekend of it.
Got the need to shred some trails? These three MTB sportives will push your off-road skills to their limits.
Exposure Lights TwentyFour12
When: 30 July 2021
Where: Plympton, Plymouth, Devon
Availability: 24-hour race limited to 100 riders
Exposure Lights TwentyFour12 is a four-day celebration of everything off-road built around a 12/24 hour sportive. The event takes place entirely off-road on a 12km course, so dedicated training will be necessary. It’s quite something to stay in the saddle for an entire day, so you’re definitely going to need a reliable bike and a few helpers on hand with water and nourishment. A full-on weekend festival, the event also stages a 12-hour version, kids’ race and 10km run.
When: 6 – 8 August 2021
Where: Yorkshire Dales National Park
Ard Rock is the UK’s biggest MTB festival and the closest we get on these shores to an Alpine enduro. Ideal for the most advanced mountain bikers, the course blends a terrific mixture of long and technical climbs with loose terrain and tricky descents. The jewel of the weekend is the enduro with its seven stages spread over a 45km loop. There are plenty of options for every rider though, from intro routes to epic courses.
TORQ in your Sleep
When: 29 August 2021
Where: Minley Manor, Minley, Yateley, Hants
Slightly shorter than the Exposure Lights TwentyFour12, TORQ in your Sleep is a noon to midnight endurance event in Hampshire. If the full ride sounds a little daunting, there is a six-hour version run over the same course, or you can sign up as a pair or small team of three or four to share the load. Fun with your mates on your mountain bikes with guaranteed access to on-site camping – what could be better?
Join the gravel revolution by taking part in one of these epic off-road weekends.
When: 11 September 2021
Where: Kielder Castle Forest Park Centre, Hexham, Northumberland
Six years ago, the Dirty Reiver brought the feel of a mid-west American gravel event to the UK scene. The course explores the forest of Kelder and Wark on the English-Scottish border as it winds through remote areas serviced by rough gravel roads. Dirty Reiver caters for all forms of gravel enthusiast, with distances of 200km, 130km and 65km (with e-bike option). It’s a big day in the saddle but the viewpoints are truly breath-taking and look even better after all that effort.
Dunoon Dirt Dash
When: 25 – 26 September 2021
Where: Dunoon, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
As a self-supported bikepacking event in the wilds of Scotland, the Dunoon Dirt Dash is truly a bucket list experience. The West Coast of Scotland has some of the best riding in the whole of the UK and the route makes good use of it. At 132km and over 2,750 metres of elevation, the route traverses boggy areas, endless gravel, woodland trails, steep climbs and technical descents, testing your handling skills to the max. It’s not just about the cycling though, make sure to take a minute and enjoy being in spectacular locations like Glen Kin, Puck’s Glen, Kilmun and Laird’s Grave.
When: 7 – 10 October 2021
Where: Galloway Forest Park, Scotland
Also in Scotland, Raiders Gravel is an off-road adventure celebrating its inaugural event in 2021. Riding in a team of two, you will explore the quite stunning natural wonders and wildlife of Galloway across three stages, with the chance of competing for the various leader’s jerseys. What’s more, your food, tent pitch and local evening tipple are all included in the sign-up fee (there’s also a cash bar!). It’s an event that mixes cycling with culture, entertainment, and sustainability – the perfect feast for the senses after the year we’ve had.
If you like the look of any of these sportives, make sure you’re insured in case the worst happens. Our home and bicycle insurance covers all your family bikes for theft from a vehicle and away from home, including at events, so you can be sure you and your bike are looked after no matter where you go. Why not get a quote now?
Words by Oskar Scarsbrook