There are many reasons why sportives in the UK are so popular. For starters, everything is prepared for you; all you have to do is show up and ride! You can ride with people you already know, meet new ones at the event, or ride alone to see if you can beat the scheduled time, or dare I say it, average speed! By and large, sportives are well organised, well sign posted and often have multiple feed stations along the way so there is little chance of you taking a wrong turn or getting lost whilst on drink and snack detour! Sportives are by their very nature non-competitive, but some event organisers decide to classify your finish time into performance brackets based on how quickly you ride the course. Here are our top six road sportives for the first half of 2023.
Etape Loch Ness 23rd April 2023
OK, so general entry is sold out due to high demand, BUT, there is still a chance to get into the event via a team Macmillan charity place. All you need to do is raise a minimum of £150 to help change the lives of people living with cancer. The Etape Loch Ness has one 4.8 mile climb ascending 380 meters and a total distance of 66 miles on traffic free roads making it well suited to all levels of rider. A wonderful way to kick off your season.
Fred Whitton Challenge 7th May 2023
The Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge is one of the most popular sportives in the UK and is also famed as being particularly difficult. Riders rank it alongside European events such as the Marmotte in terms of difficulty. Consisting of a 112 mile sportive around the Lake District, starting at Grasmere and taking in climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott & Wrynose and Blea Tarn passes, the very top riders complete the route in just under six hours but eleven hours and over are not uncommon for the average sportive rider. The event includes all the Lakeland passes and the 30% gradient of Hardknott comes at 94 miles.
Hampshire Hilly Hundred 7th May 2023
Beautiful woodland, picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and, of course, breathtaking sights from the summits of the climbs will all be yours to enjoy. A tough route through the stunning and hilly Hampshire countryside, the 2023 event will combine all of Hampshire’s most difficult climbs. Beginning and ending at Sparsholt College in Winchester and 4000ft of climbing and 100 miles at your disposal, It’s a tough sportive no matter how strong you are! Even better, you can ride the event for free if you assist with registration or parking for a few hours in the morning. Visit organiser website for further details! Bonus!
Ride London- 28th May 2023
The RideLondon-Essex 100, 60, and 30-mile rides attracted more than 22,000 participants in 2022. Each of the rides begins in central London, travels to Essex, and finally finishes at Tower Bridge London. If you can’t get into the 100 or 60 mile sportive and fancy doing something with the family instead, the eight-mile, traffic-free RideLondon FreeCycle route makes it a rare chance to bike through central London, and participation is totally free!
Tour of Cambridge 4th June 2023
With three sportive route distances of 50, 70 and 100 miles including two Gran Fondo events and a 16.5 mile TT, there is something for everyone. Pick your challenge, then head to the starting line to help the cause support the fight against childhood cancer. Each Sportive entry raises money for the Azaylia Foundation, which supports families raising money for treatments that might not be easily accessible through the NHS and gives children with cancer memorable experiences they’ll never forget. Don’t forget, the festival of cycling has a great trade show and food stalls and free bike secure parking operated by us at the event start finish.
The Dragon ride- 18th June 2023
No introduction needed-One of the oldest and most recognisable sporting events in the UK is the Dragon Ride, which is regarded as the most difficult and legendary cycling events in the British Isles. 2023 gives rise to the 19th edition of the event which will once again be hosted from Margam Park, South Wales. There are 4 routes available ranging from 98km all the way to a bottom bracket busting 296km. Think you have what it takes to take on the mighty dragon? There’s only one way to find out!
Our top tips for sportives
The likelihood is that you’re going to be travelling to an area where you don’t normally ride to enjoy new terrain. To ensure that you make the most of the event, follow these top tips:
- Make sure your bike is in good working order so getting a service is recommended. At the very minimum, make sure your tyres are in good condition, your brakes work and your chain isn’t old and in danger of breaking.
- Remember to fully charge your electronic group set. We have seen it countless times when riders have had to abandon due to their gears failing to work correctly.
- Arrive at the event well prepared. We do not recommend that you take part in a sportive without having trained. You’ll have much more fun if you’re fit.
- It’s the UK, pack kit for all conditions.
- Ride within your limits during the event. Getting involved in a 50kph through and off train is a seriously bad idea if you’re new to group riding!
- Respect all riders. You’re taking part in an event which is open to all levels so you’re going to come across some people who aren’t as confident as you are. Give them space and plenty of verbal warning if you’re rolling past them at speed
- Make sure you fuel for the event correctly (big breakfast and carry food/gels in pockets whilst riding)
- Enjoy the event, take some photos and don’t forget to tag @pedalcover for a shout out on Instagram