Sportives are a staple of the UK cycling scene and act as a crucial goal setter for many amateurs. With the recent news that they can resume in September, albeit under new guidelines, we can start thinking about long days in the saddle again.
Riding a UK sportive is one of our 8 Challenges Every Cyclist Should Try, as they are a great way to improve and practise new found skills, push yourself as a rider and ride through landscapes and terrain you may have previously missed.
Here are some of the best sportives you can take part in the UK.
One of the biggest and best sportives that Britain has to offer, the Dragon Ride in Wales is an incredibly popular mass-participation event that always draws a big crowd. It’s easy to see why, given you will be surrounded by the stunning Brecon Beacons range as you take on this beast. With elevation gain of almost 5,000 metres and a distance of 297 kilometres (if you do the full distance), the Welsh Gran Fondo is not for the faint hearted. The next edition is lined up for June 7, 2021.
Port Talbot & the Brecon Beacons
297km, 223km, 153 km, 99km
£49.50, £55.50, £60.50, £95.50
Sticking to the views theme, this Scottish sportive just about rivals the amazing views of the Dragon Ride. Better still, it’s on closed roads. Starting and finishing in Inverness, the route takes in the entirety of the beautiful Loch Ness before climbing the timed Fort Augustus climb. At the summit you can take in an extraordinary view across the Loch and its epic surroundings. Étape Loch Ness returns for 2021 on April 26.
If it’s rolling English hills you want, look no further than Ride Cotswolds. Boasting some of the best climbing of any English sportive, this is a day that will test your climbing and descending skills to the maximum. Pretty villages, winding ascents and far-reaching fields mean the only way to explore this amazing Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is by bike.
65km, 128km, 160km
£35, £40, £40
The most famous sportive in the UK, Ride London is the biggest annual festival of cycling we have in this country. Compared to the marathon in terms of its draw and prestige, this event should be on every riders bucket list. Taking in the world-famous landmarks of London and iconic climbs in the Surrey Hills, you’re sure to go home with many tales from this event.
Prices from £429
If you prefer casual riding and beautiful scenery to lung busting efforts up a series of mammoth climbs, the Mendips Sportive is for you. There is some climbing en route, it just isn’t as heavy going or relentless as the other events. A beautiful 15 mile roll out on the flat then gives way to two sharp climbs before you wind through the awe-inspiring Cheddar Gorge.
The Bostin Bridge Sportive takes in the best views that Shropshire has to offer as you navigate the county on its tight country lanes. It starts off with a leisurely ride through some of the area’s most picturesque villages and hamlets before climbing to its highest point, the Wrekin. The ride skirts the River Severn, the longest river in the United Kingdom, for most of the day before passing the bridge that gives the sportive its name. The area is notoriously windy, so you will need to get aero for this one.
64km, 104km, 120km
£21, £26, £31
If Ride London is the most famous UK sportive, then the Fred Whitton Challenge, often simply shortened as ‘The Fred’, certainly holds the title of most legendary. The 183-kilometre route around the Lake District passes over all of the region’s toughest climbs, including one of our 10 Toughest Climbs in Cycling, Hardknott Pass. The 30% gradients will bite but the feeling you will get when you crest the summit and are rewarded with a stunning view across the Eskdale Valley is indescribable.
The Wiltshire Wildcat is usually an early season spring test and is the first challenging sportive of the amateur mass-start calendar. The route criss-crosses the Saxon villages the area is famous for before tackling a steep climb through Donhead Hollow. The ride then takes in rolling terrain on its way back to the start/finish point of Salisbury, but there is a sting in the tail with two short, sharp climbs right at the end. Keep your powder dry!
So, there you have it, our list of the sportives that everyone should try and ride at least once. Long rides are hard going for you and for your machine, so before you pin on a number and depart on your adventure, it might be worth brushing up on the 8 Maintenance Tips Every Cyclist Should Know.
Furthermore, Pedalsure can protect you in mass participation events as our comprehensive coverage extends to sportives and we’ll even cover your accessories. Most of the thing we cover you won’t find in your home insurance policies. You are covered in cases of bike theft, personal injury, personal liability, during events and abroad. Happy riding, Pedalsure is here for you.