Saturday, 16 April 2011

Cyclosportives - the debate begins

8 Ways UK Sportives Could Be BETTER!by Rebecca on April 15, 2011

Yet another fine post by Rebecca at has inspired a rare comments response from your truly...

...Follow the link by clicking the screen cap above and enter the debate...

My 'two pennies worth' is in the comments section below the main article. Just in case you can't wait for the link to open... here it is in full (it may not make too much sense until you’ve read Rebecca's original piece?)

Hi Rebecca,

Much food for thought here.

As a relative newcomer to cycling (4 years and counting) and an avid sportive rider I thought I’d add my two pennies’ worth.

It seems that the UK has two types/styles of cyclosportives:-

1. the standard sportive

2. the charity sportive

I must admit to a growing preference to the latter – the charity sportive.

In my experience the charity ‘sporitves hit almost all of your points above, with an increasing number incorporating timing chips and on-route distance options, along with several lengths of ride and a strong family feel.

I’ve ridden a dozen or more non-charity ‘century+’ ‘sportives and found them far too serious, rather cold (emotionally), a little unfriendly (not all riders, but certainly enough to change the ‘feel’ of the event?) and very competitive – as a great friend (who was GB rider in the 60′s and a winner of a Milk race stage, Peace race rider and winner of the London to Holyhead pro-am… as an ‘am’) once said… “… if you want to race, enter a race! If you want a best time, become a tester!” I’m no shrinking violet but I must admit to finding many of the UK events a rather intimidating experience.

On the plus side the group riding in these events is of a far higher – and safer – standard (providing you can ignore the fools who think they are racing Le Tour!) My best time in this style of event is far better than the charity events – does this matter…not much… but it does make me smile. Despite missing a gold by one minute (In my defence, I had no idea what the time cut-off’s were as they weren’t my reason for entering – this was my third ever event.) I managed this unexpected time by accidently joining a group of about 25 Dutch riders (and practicing my dreadful Afrikaans!) for about 80 of the 120 miles… it was a fantastic experience… we all helped each other and when I fell off the back (no fan of excessive suffering, I!) after about 40 miles working with the group, four dropped back and nursed me on to a mid-group wheel. This still ranks as one of the best sporting experiences of my life. We exchanged emails and, three years later, I’m meeting a few at the Liege. Sadly, this experience is the exception, in my limited experience.

Why then do I prefer the charity rides? Perhaps 15 years in team sports (rugby league and union) explains my fondness for camaraderie and ‘the team’ feeling.

Well, I have ridden many more of these and have made at least one long term ‘cycling’ chum for life on each event. it all started in 2007 with Action Medical Research’s London to Paris cycle challenge (4 days, 360+ miles, plus the tour finish in Paris) We now have a Facebook group with over 50 riders – all of whom we/I met on charity rides – which coordinates future events. The structure of the charity ride day is superbly organised – with more than enough support for the complete novice along with sensible allowances for the ‘expert’. They are well stocked with feed, lunch and mechanic stops/support, and thus, at least in my opinion, a lot more fun. Essentially they have all the usual high-standard cyclosportive stuff + extras… especially the rides. Medals are, usually, handed out but this is, increasingly being replaced by the posted certificate – you are spot on… receiving this in the post a few days after the event brings all the most positive memories flooding back The 2007 London to Paris is still the benchmark for these events – simply wonderful.

There’s so much more to say however I for one will always favour the charity century over the ‘pseudo-competitive’ cyclosportive… and yes, I do now race…. although I always finish well down the field… I love it!

Please allow me to strongly recommend the Action Medical Research Cycling events for a fantastic day out… For those in need of a time (I use the bike computer) then several are now chipped events:
Thanks for another great article, the site is becoming a ‘must visit’ for us ageing newbie’s to the sport!
PS… I’m just about to ride a few German events – I’ll let you know how they compare to the UK’s offerings.
PPS… why are the UK events so expensive?

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