What is a sportive?

In the first of a series of articles about sportives, we’ll explain what exactly a sportive is, for those of you who are unsure.

A sportive is a mass participation, non-competitive event

Riders participating in a sportive

Riders participating in a sportive

Sportives are non-competitive cycling events with hundreds or thousands of riders. They are not races, although the riders are often timed over the course.

Unlike a race, riders usually start at different times over a short period at the start. Riders may form small groups or may ride individually.

Occasionally the roads on the route are closed for the duration of the course but usually the riders must negotiate with the traffic and follow the rules of the road.

Sportives can be any distance and there’s often more than one distance or route available. They typically range from about 30 miles to about 100 miles.

They are most often thought of as on-road events best suited for road bikes but there are also off-road sportives for mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes.

A sportive is a usually an organised, paid for event

Rider number from the Prudential RideLondon sportive

Rider number from the Prudential RideLondon sportive

Sportives have a cost associated with them for the participants and this is used to cover the costs to organise the event.

As mentioned above, there is often some form of participant timing, either electronic chip timings or possibly manual timing.

It is usual to expect one or more food stations along the course with various snacks and energy drinks to help participants get around the ride.

As well as paying to event a sportive, some are also used to raise money for charities either by some or all of the entry fee going to the charity or by participants fundraising.

A sportive is a bit like the cycling version of a marathon

Finisher's medal from the Prudential RideLondon sportive

Finisher’s medal from the Prudential RideLondon sportive

It may be easiest to think of a sportive as a cycling version of the marathon, if you’re more familiar with running events. They share many similarities. A marked course, an entry fee, many participants, some spectators, food and drink stops, timing of participants. A marathon is not a race but participants usually have a set time to aim for, as mentioned above, this mentality is shared with sportives.

The most marathon-like sportive, and one of the most well-known sportives in the UK, is the Prudential RideLondon sportive, organised by the same people who organise the London Marathon.

A more challenging sportive is the Dragon Ride in Wales, which has routes between 42 KM and 300 (!) KM.

A famous and challenging international sportive, is the Etape du Tour, run in conjunction with the Tour de France.

There many more sportives run throughout the year. If you’d like to know more consider signing up below or at the Cowbell homepage for sportive updates and news.

4 thoughts on “What is a sportive?

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