What on earth is a sportive?

When I first started getting into cycling, I was exposed to a whole new lexicon – really, cyclists have their own vocabulary, and you’re not really ‘in’ until you can speak fluent cycling! See here for my glossary of cycling terms.

Bottom bracket (sounds painful…), rear mech (ok, I could have had a guess at that), down in the drops? On the hoods? Seriously, it gets complicated very quickly! I managed to learn the anatomy of the bike pretty quickly – but one term kept coming up – Sportive. Eventually, I had to put away my manly pride and Bing it (ok, I Googled it but need you to be aware there are other search engines out there, and this site in no way endorses one over another.) Turns out there are very few decent explanations out there. Merlin Cycles has a fairly decent stab at it – they define it as an ‘organised ride which you pay to do’ – having done a few, I’d say that’s about right.

the author and friend headshots during a break in the sportive..  Tree and bikes in the backgound
Mike and Adam – Great North Ride 2018

Some sportives have a competitive element, but for me, they are opportunities to prepare for longer rides (I typically look for 60-100 mile sportives – sometimes shorter if there is a lot of climbing, like the Back o’ Skiddaw) They help me get better at organizing myself and managing equipment, hunger, thirst and niggly aches and pains so when I do multi-day and really long rides, I’ve got all the things that might cause issues sorted out in advance.

What I love about sportives is the camaraderie. Some of them are super-friendly gatherings of 100s or even 1000s of cyclists of all shapes and sizes. You need to prepare for a sportive but it shouldn’t be beyond anyone’s ability with a little time and effort in the the saddle beforehand.

3 bike riders stationary astride their bikes
Team Success!

In this post, I provide a link to some of the ones I have done and I will be writing posts on each one, along with sharing some info on the routes and difficulty levels.

If you haven’t done one, please consider it – they really are great events, and leave you with a feeling of accomplishment. Also, due to the distances involved, cake, lattes and beers are all part of the rewards at the end! Also, sometimes you get medals just for finishing!!

two men in cycling gear enjoying a drink
To the victor the spoils!