20 of the best British sportives to ride in 2018
We have a look forward to some of the best British sportives to ride in the coming year
When the days are short and dragging yourself out on the bike feels like a chore, it’s good to have a few targets to continue working towards to make all the slogging away in the cold months worthwhile.
For those who won’t be putting that training into racing, non-competitive days out on the bike following a pre-set route are a great way to see new places or discover new roads in familiar regions.
Here we look at some of the best sportives from all corners of the UK, ordered chronologically.
This is far from an exhaustive list of cycling events, so you can let us know any of your favourites that we may have missed in the comments below.
The best British sportives
Wiggle New Forest Spring
When: Saturday April 14 and Sunday April 15
Where: Ringwood, Hampshire
More information: ukcyclingevents.co.uk/wiggle-new-forest-spring-sportive
An early season leg tester for those wanting to see if their winter mileage is paying off, this ride around the New Forest is so popular that riders can choose either the Saturday or Sunday.
There are three distances – 46, 106 and 133km – so if you have bitten off more than you can chew this early in the year you can always follow the signs for a shorter route.
Isle of Man Cyclefest Gran Fondo
When: Sunday April 22
Where: Isle of Man
More information: iomcyclefest.com/gran-fondo
This Gran Fondo features closed-roads, and will also feature unsurfaced forest roads and a processional ride out under blue lights. The long course is 132km and there is a family-friendly 35km option too.
This event forms part of the Isle of Man Cyclefest.
Isle of Wight Randonnee
When: Sunday May 6
Where: Isle of Wight
More information: cycleisland.co.uk
Ride on the roads that the Lonely Planet called ‘the best place in the world to cycle’. This route can be followed all year round thanks to the blue and white signs at key junctions, but the event itself provides checkpoints, feed stations and plenty of other riders.
The event sees riders heading in a clockwise direction around the Isle of Wight.
A choice of two distances – 55km and the full 100km – should appeal to a wide range of riders, with route variation depending on start location and willingness to take on gravel tracks.
Tour de Yorkshire Ride
When: Sunday May 6
More information: humanrace.co.uk/tour-de-yorkshire-ride
Forming part of the Tour de Yorkshire race weekend, the amateur event takes place on the morning of stage three.
Riders are treated to the same final kilometre and finish line as the pros, and can then stick around to see the WorldTour and domestic riders fight out for the stage – and maybe overall – win.
Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive
When: Saturday May 12
Where: Lincoln and the Lincolnshire lanes
More information: www.itpevents.co.uk/event/the-lincoln-grand-prix-sportive
A rolling route around the Lincolnshire countryside carries a sharp sting in its tail in the form of Michaelgate.
The cobbled climb, which tops out over 20 per cent, will catch anyone out who hasn’t kept enough in the tank over the rest of the ride.
Stick around to watch the best domestic pros take on the Lincoln Grand Prix races.
Fred Whitton Challenge
When: Sunday May 13
Where: Grasmere, Cumbria
More information: fredwhittonchallenge.co.uk
Seen by many as the country’s toughest sportive, the sheer number of steep climbs in this 180km event will have even the hardiest rider reaching for a 32t sprocket.
The sportive is run in honour of Fred Whitton, who died aged just 50 in 1998, and was a member of the Lakes Road Club. The 2017 event raised over £160,000 for charity.
Wiggle County Durham Dynamo
When: Sunday May 13
Where: Darlington, County Durham
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-county-durham-dynamo-sportive/
Launched in 2016, this ride takes cyclists from Darlington into the countryside of County Durham. As the route reaches the North Pennines, riders will be tested by the climbs but rewarded with the views.
A recent addition to the calendar, this sportive is ideal for anyone wanting to explore this fantastic part of the country, and is worth the journey for those from further afield.
Etape du Dales
When: Sunday May 20
Where: Wharfedale Rugby Club, Grassington, North Yorkshire
More information: daveraynerfund.co.uk/etapedudales
The event pre-dates the Tour de France‘s visit to the county, but includes some of the same roads giving riders a chance to experience a Grand Tour parcours.
Organisers warn that its 177km should not be approached lightly and riders need a high level of fitness to complete the challenge.
When: May TBC
Where: Pitlochry, Perth and Kinross
More information: etapecaledonia.co.uk
A closed road route of 130km takes riders around Loch Rannoch and through the Tay Forest Park. Several feedstations throughout will keep riders going before they are welcomed back into Pitlochry.
Wiggle Sussex Gran Fondo
When: Saturday June 2
Where: Fontwell Racecourse, Fontwell, West Sussex
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-sussex-gran-fondo/
Most intrepid riders in the south-east of England have probably ridden on roads in the North Downs or South Downs, but few would have ridden both in the same day. The Suzzex Gran Fondo gives you the opportunity to do just that, taking in the scenery of both of these range of hills on the long 201km route.
If you don’t fancy riding over 200km, then there are also routes of 43km, 104km and 158km.
Isle of Mull Sportive
When: Sunday June 3
Where: Isle of Mull
More information: mullcyclosportive.co.uk
This event is staffed by local volunteers who help with the marshalling and the feed stations.
A choice of two routes on the quiet island roads, riders will be treated with a warm meal when they complete their chosen distance.
When: Saturday June 16
Where: Newbury, Berkshire
More information: www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-magnificat-sportive/
The 2018 edition of the Wiggle MagnifiCat will be its 12th. Offering four routes – 48, 106, 160 and 201km – the range should mean that most riders can find a manageable route, if not an all out challenge.
The ride comes with all the usual UK Cycling Events support at the start hub and out on the course.
When: Sunday July 8
Where: Cardiff, Wales
More information: www.velothon.com/events/velothon-wales.aspx
Explore the lanes and hills of South Wales on traffic-free roads, covering routes or either 110km or 140km. The longer route tackles the well-known and fearsome climbs of The Tumble and Caerphilly Mountain.
The shorter route will be a brand new one for 2018.
When: Sunday July 29
Where: London and Surrey
More information: prudentialridelondon.co.uk
This mass participation event sees over 25,000 amateur riders set out from the Olympic Park for a 100-mile (161km) ride through London and the Surrey Hills, all on closed roads.
Places are picked on a ballot system as demand far outstrips supply. For those lucky enough to get a place they can ride in the tyre-tracks of the London 2012 Olympians.
When: Sunday August 5
Where: Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire
More information: sodburysportive.co.uk
The Saddleback Sodbury Sportive starts and finishes in Chipping Sodbury, near Yate. A friendly and welcoming event run by the local Rotary Club and staffed entirely by volunteers, this is a fantastic event in a stunning part of the world.
The route is made all the better by marked Strava segments which add a hint of competitiveness to the ride.
Homemade sandwiches at the feed stations and a hot meal for every rider at the finish, an all round great sportive.
Cornwall Coast and Clay
When: September TBC
Where: St Columb Major, near Newquay, Cornwall
More information: cornwallcoastandclay.co.uk
The third event on this list that is run by volunteers, this time from Rotary International, this ride offers four distance options from 37 to 160km.
The range of rides should mean there’s something for everyone who makes the trip to the far South West.
Circuit of Kent
When: Sunday September 9
Where: Sevenoaks, Kent
More information: kentcyclosportive.co.uk
This sportive offers routes of 40, 80 and 130km through the Kent countryside South East of Sevenoaks.
Some testing drags will knock back your average speed, but the rolling route should suit most.
Something a bit different: Multi-day events
Tour of Wessex
When: May 26-28
Where: South West England
More information: pendragonsports.com/Tour_of_Wessex
The full three day event sees cyclists cover 521km, but there are shorter routes and single-day options.
Varying terrain, food and music in the evenings, and riders coming from abroad to take part, this is a unique event in the English countryside.
The Dragon Tour
When: June 8-10
Where: South Wales
More information: humanrace.co.uk/dragon-tour
Building on the success of the Dragon Ride, Human Race Events now offer riders the chance to make a weekend of it.
Entrants ride two tough days on the Friday and Saturday before taking part in one of the four Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by le Tour de France routes on the Sunday.
Ride Across Britain
When: September 8-16
Where: Lands End to John O’Groats
More information: rideacrossbritain.com
For those wanting to do the end-to-end, but unsure where to start with the logistics, this ride takes care of all the planning so riders can concentrate on the cycling.
Pit stops, medical assistance and pre-set campsites are just some of the perks along the 1,559km route.