part in cyclosportives
Beacon members can often be found riding
in cyclosportives across the UK and sometimes on the continent.
are a member of the Beacon or another local club looking for advice on riding
a sportive, or for somebody to team up with at an event or on a training run,
please refer to our message
What is a cyclosportive?
A cyclosportive is a
non-competitive challenge ride that has to be completed within a certain time
limit. People start together, but cover the course at their own pace. Although
cyclosportives are not races, the strongest riders in the field are usually competitive
cyclists, who try to get round as quickly as they can. Also, there are sometimes
awards - e.g. gold, silver and bronze medals - that are linked to the time taken
to complete the event. See also 'What's the difference
between an Audax and a cyclosportive?'
There is no governing body for
cyclosportives: each ride is an independent promotion, usually organised on a
sponsored and/or commercial basis. Individual event organisers normally have their
own websites, place adverts in cycling magazines and distribute information via
other channels. It can be interesting and helpful to gather information by buying
a few magazines, or by entering words such as 'cyclosportive', 'cycle challenge',
'toertocht' and 'granfondo' into a search engine. Perhaps the best place to start,
however, is the Cyclosport
website, which tries to provide a comprehensive overview of the rides on offer,
with links to the organisers' own sites. The entry requirements and procedures
vary from event to event, so you have to separately check out the arrangements
for each ride you are thinking of doing. You shouldn't have a problem getting
in, though, provided you plan well ahead.
In the UK, there is now quite
a calendar of events, most in the hilly areas of the south, the northwest and
Wales. There are some in the Midlands, too, mainly the Cotswolds and the Peak
District. Typical distances are between 150 and 250 kilometres. The most popular
events have to be entered well in advance - several months before, in some cases.
So it's a good idea to plan your campaign in the winter, and think in terms of
a weekend away, rather than a day's riding. Other Beacon members can often give
you useful info about an event: ask on the message
board. If you fancy doing a ride with a few pals, you can also use the message
board to see what other people are planning or invite others to join you on a
Long-term planning is even more important when it comes
to continental sportives. For example, the Etape du Tour, which follows the route
of a different - but invariably very tough - Tour de France stage each year, can
now be entered only through a package tour operator, and places can be hard to
find as early as the previous autumn. Other big European events are often over-subscribed
Nevertheless, it can be a real experience taking part in these
continental rides: often following in the wheel-tracks of the sport's biggest
names, through scenery so different from home, in the company of thousands of
fellow enthusiasts from all over the world. These factors have persuaded groups
of Beaconites to make trips to France, Italy, Holland and Belgium in recent years.
If the idea appeals, talk to some of your club-mates in person or on line about
plans for the following summer.
All-in trips to continental cyclosportives
can be arranged through companies such as Graham
Baxter's Sporting Tours and Sports
Tours International. Alternatively, in most cases you can enter the event
independently via the organiser's website and make your own arrangements. This
approach is more time-consuming and less convenient but, if you're confident about
finding and dealing with foreign service providers, it's unlikely to be more expensive
and gives you more control.
If you're new to this type of cycling, you
may find it helpful to read our 'Tips for taking
part in challenge rides'.