or often simply sportive, is a short
to long distance, organised, mass-participation cycling event, typically held annually. Many DV riders have taken
part in a variety of sportives, both individually and as part of a DV group. A
sportive is a great opportunity to ride somewhere new with a large group of
other cyclists of all abilities in an organised and supported environment.
They are definitely not races, but many sportives will publish a range of bronze, silver and gold standard times to give you a target to aim for. The majority of sportives are held over open roads shared with normal traffic, but some of the premium sportives are on closed roads where no traffic is allowed. All sportives will provide varying degrees of mechanical and medical assistance, marshalls and food and drink stops along the route. In this blog post I will try and give you a flavour of some of the most popular sportives that tend to attract DV riders and suggest some additional sportives that you may also want to add to your cycling bucket list! Many of these sportives will be publicised as events in the DV Facebook Group where you can see who else is going and make sure you have some ride buddies lined up.
Let’s start the year off with the Twickenham Cycle Club Surrey Rumble. Generally held in the middle of March, it starts and finishes in Cobham and offers 96km and 128km routes. It’s a friendly and relatively small sportive with maybe a couple of hundred riders taking part. One advantage of this sportive is that it is very local and over some familiar roads. In 2019 there were around 10 of us from DV who participated.
Around early April is the New Forest Spring sportive. This is a very popular sportive run by UK Cycling Events every year and attracts around 1,500 riders over a weekend. You choose to ride the Saturday or the Sunday, both days offer three routes: Short (50km), Standard (107km) and Epic (130km). The Standard and Epic routes will take you out through some beautiful scenery across the New Forest, the route is relatively flat and rolling but you can be at the mercy of the wind on the exposed sections. In 2019 there were 14 of us from DV who took part over the weekend, sharing car rides down the M3 and helping each other get around.
The first May Bank Holiday weekend sees
the annual Isle Of Wight Randonee
sportive. The route takes you on a circuit of the Isle Of Wight with 100km and
55km routes available. It’s a very relaxed and fun day out with many food and
drink stops offering great home cooked food. There is no entry fee to take part
but you donate money for food and drinks and you can buy a badge at the end to
commemorate your ride. At least 10 of us from DV took part in 2018 and with DV
Members Nick & Maxine now living on the IOW it’s sure to be a popular event
in the diary.
The South Western Road Club May Flyer is traditionally the sportive
that attracts most DV riders. It runs every year in early to mid May with 86km
and 153km routes, starting and finishing in Oxshott and a reputation for better
food and snacks than most! In 2018 there
were just over 50 riders from DV participating out of a total of 500 riders,
the sportive also tends to sell out in advance.
For those that are looking for something
a little different, the Tour Of
Cambridgeshire might just be for you. A number of events run over a weekend
at the start of June every year, starting and finishing at the Peterborough
Arena, with fully closed off roads.
There are now two events you can
participate in on the Sunday, the Sportive or the Gran Fondo. The key
difference here is that the Gran Fondo is very close to being an actual race,
with the top 25% of finishers in each age/sex category qualifying for a place
in the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships. It’s a super fast and flat ride on
very exposed roads, groups tend to ride in bunches and you definitely need to
keep your wits about you to get around safely.
At least 15 DV riders have taken part over
the last few years with Gerda qualifying and taking part in the World
Championships in Italy in 2018. It’s incredibly well organised and highly
The end of July sees the daddy of all
sportives with the Prudential Ride
London weekend. There are two rides available, the Ride 46 and the Ride
100, both of which will be heavily oversubscribed and entry is decided by a
“random” ballot process from those who apply.
You can also secure an entry through riding for a charity if you commit
to raising a large sum in sponsorship and DV may also secure a team place for 4
riders through our affiliation with British Cycling.
The routes are entirely traffic free,
start in the Olympic Park in Stratford and finish on The Mall outside
Buckingham Palace, not to mention passing Cafe Rouge with an enthusiastic DV
Supporters club waiting to cheer you on!
Around 25,000 riders take part in the Ride 100 event and it’s fair to
say that everybody should try and ride this event at least once. It’s
incredibly well organised and an experience you’re unlikely to forget. I would
estimate up to 50 DV Riders have participated in Ride 100 over the last five
That’s a whistle stop tour of some of the
most popular sportives that DV riders tend to take part in, but there are
literally hundreds of other events happening around the UK and overseas. If
you’re looking for other events in the UK then here are a couple of great
places to look:
In 2011, I set myself a challenge to cycle from London to Africa for 2013 when I turned 50. Up until that point, the longest ride I had ever done was the London to Paris ride.
So, how do we tackle a large ride? Well, it depends on your budget. A supported ride is a great option, but expensive to set up the logistics. On the other end of the sca
le, we have the classic touring mode where a cycle is loaded with paniers crammed with tons of kit. Supported rides makes it easier to cover great distances quickly but when the cycle is loaded up with 40KG of kit, then the 80-100 mile per day target a bit of a far reach.
I opted for the middle option, which is to travel really light and to stop in hotels. It worked well, and I have used the same strategy for the long rides I did in 2014/15. So here are some of the things I think about when planning a long ride:
First of all, it has to be fun, so I plan interesting and challenging routes. Spain is my favourite as the weather is often more predictable. Late August/early September is good as it’s cooler
The detailed route planning is part of the fun – don’t rush it. Routes can be created carefully when you have time in winter – use Google street view to verify the quality of the roads
What to take? My rule is this “if it does not fit in a back pack, then it does not go. So I minimise on clothing (which I wash each day). As I have a few days at my destination, I post things ahead such as the bag I need to fly the bike back to the UK
Basic first aid, tools, tubes and an ultra-light laptop is carried
The rucksack is actually lashed to a rack. On a 14 day ride, I would advise against carrying a heavy backpack
I do not book all of the hotels ahead, just one day at a time. This gives me the flexibility to alter the route to discover something new, speed up the pace, or slow down and take a day off
Use very rugged tyres and know in advance where the bike shops will be to buy spares or go for help
On the 25th August 2017, I set off on a ride from Bordeaux to Gibraltar via Lisbon. It’s just about 2,000KM and I have allowed 18 days to do it. You can view the route map and track my progress on my blog: http://www.atlantis-sailing.co.uk
The DV Champagne Tour 2015 was even better than the wine itself. The trip was full of flavour and fun. Never a dull moment, whether it was chatting in the bar after a ride or over breakfast the next day. The banter was good humoured and I never felt pressured to do anything I didn’t want to. The routes Nigel planned were varied and interesting through some wonderful countryside and even when we did go ‘Off piste’ it all seemed to be planned anyway. Great riding with some good long hills to get the legs working without killing ourselves as we can do on some of Surrey’s 20%+ gradients. Can’t wait for the next one!
8 is a good number, so if anyone else wants to arrange one, go ahead – it makes it all very cost effective and great fun.
A long weekend trip to Champagne, for eight Dittons Velo riders:
Total distance 300km (exactly!)
Total ascent 2295m
Total time 14:57hrs
Average speed 20kph
In the words of some of the DV huit:
MW The trip epitomised the friendliness & camaraderie of our club. Bowling along as a group of like-minded ‘veloistes’ on smooth, traffic-free roads through beautiful French countryside (vineyards) with a shout of ‘Social’ if anyone made a break for freedom to bring the mini-peloton back together again. At times through challenging (hilly!), but otherwise gently rolling terrain, followed by well-earned & leisurely lunch stops, the miles rolled by almost effortlessly culminating in a refreshing glass (or two) of fizz back at ‘the garage’, all of us with grins as wide as La Manche ..!
A million laughs, thousands of calories (more eaten, than burnt), hundreds of cycling miles, tens of bottles of champagne but only one magnifique catastrophe (c/o Le Clewn)
One of the best weekends I’ve had in years. Great riding, great bunch of people, great weather, great wine, great food, no mishaps to speak of. Tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks at least once every day.
Fun long weekend with 7 others – based in Epernay – 3 x circa 60 mile rides – scenic routes – little traffic on mainly good road surfaces !!
Guildford to Bordeaux Ride Report, by Dominic Bull
Firstly I wanted to say a big thank you to those who have sponsored me for my recent cycle from Guildford to Bordeaux.
I thought it would be interesting if I recounted my adventures; it is important to note that the entire trip was organised expertly by my friend Duncan Pike and totalled around 400 miles excluding the ferry crossings. Hotels and restaurants were all top class and helped our recovery post-ride!
Day 1: Guildford to Portsmouth 50mi
12 cyclists of varying abilities set off from Guildford at 1pm, and immediately hit a problem as one of the groups tyres decided to explode about 1 mile from the start! Fortunately we had a spare tyre with us so we were back on the road without losing too much time. Lesson: Don’t mess with your tyres 15mins before starting a long trip.
We made it up Harting Down which is a reasonable climb and got to the ferry at Portsmouth with plenty of time and settled into post-ride recovery.
Day 2: St.Malo to Vitre 65mi
After a rough overnight crossing due to high winds we arrived early in St.Malo, and all 12 of us set off on a 65 mile slightly hilly route to a town called Vitre. The headwinds were starting to build on this day (15-20mph) and with 3,500ft of climbing and loaded panniers it was starting to get real.
Day 3: Vitre to Cholet 88mi
This was probably the toughest day of the entire trip, not only was this the longest distance I had ever attempted it was also one of the hilliestwith over 4,000ft of hills to do. My kit wasn’t yet dry from the previous day, so putting on cold wet clothes was no fun. And to top it off the headwind had increased to 20-40mph, we tried various peloton techniques in order to minimise the effort and keep progress up. We arrived quite late in Cholet after around 8hours in the saddle.
By this point we had also settled into the French way of cycling;
the roads were fantastic, and the drivers were generally patient.
Day 4: Cholet to St.Jean D’Angely 89mi
Another long day, and the headwinds were still gusting up to 40mph. But we were starting to make serious progress south so the temperatures started to increase which meant jackets came off and the sun came out. This was a typical improvised lunch stop at a town en-route:
Day 5: St.Jean D’Angely to Pauillac 85mi
This day involved much less climbing, and a nice ferry trip from Royan to the Medoc.
Although it was still another 80+mi day it felt much better as the wind eased and the terrain was flattening out. Our average speed improved and we ended the day in the middle of the vineyards in Pauillac feeling great.
Once on the Medoc, we passed through some classic appellations and past chateaux such as St.Estephe and Chateaux Lafite-Rothschild.
Day 6: Pauillac to Bordeaux 32mi
A procession ride into Bordeaux, with a nice stop at Chateaux Margaux. A minor puncture on the way into the city, but that couldn’t stop us.
And finally we made it to the finish in Bordeaux!
After a rest day in Bordeaux we all set off home by various means.
So all in all, a fantastic trip totalling 405 miles or as I prefer 650 kilometres, at times it was massively challenging primarily due to the constant headwinds for over 300 miles. We managed to raise significant funds for the Fountain Centre in Guildford and reached our goal of £10,000 before we set off. Apparently this is the single largest private donation they have ever received and we are still receiving donations. So to that end, if you would like to donate then please follow the link: https://www.justgiving.com/Guildford-Bordeaux
I know we are cyclists not gardeners but at this time of year (April-May) there is an opportunity to see the flowering shrub display at the ISABELLA plantation in Richmond Park (Broomfield Hill car park). The azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom in this glorious weather but won’t be for long.
The display has been magnificent for 4 or more weeks when I visited last week – won’t last forever….
(Message from editor: Jon makes a good point that sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy the views we might whizz past and miss….we ride in some of the most beautiful countryside)
OK, so I’m taking over the blog today to make it known that I have set myself a target of 5,000mi year on the bike.
I thought about it (informally) some time ago, thinking it would never happen but it’s been a good year of Dittons Velo bike rides and the miles have been building up. I’m still some way off (over 1,000miles) and with less than two months, and two Winter months at that, I’m not going to find it easy to get those miles in. I’m hoping however by coming out of the closet (so to speak), I’ll garner some moral support but also some support in-person: perhaps some of you who haven’t been out for rides as much as you should have been this year can come along and keep me company.
I’m not alone in setting targets for myself, so if you want me to publicise your own challenge, just let me know. A problem shared is a problem halved, right?
So far I’ve been logging the miles only the DV rides – weekends and evenings. I’ve not logged my daily commutes (I commute on the bike most days, any weather:adds up to c. 1500mi/year) – but have started to log those miles this week.
I have 1024 miles to go to hit the target (being a geek for a second, 1024bytes=1KB [KiloByte] in old binary language – hence the “KiloBike Challenge” for my 1024 miles). That’s about 110mi/week. In Summer, that’s very doable and about what I was averaging on DV rides. In Winter it’s going to take a bit more dedication – I did those miles in a mild and forgiving January earlier this year. But based on last year, I’ll need encouragement to get through this and to keep going…hence going public with the target.
I’ll include turbo miles only if the weather turns horrid and cycling outdoors is not possible. It may sound like cheating, but if you do use a turbo trainer, you’ll appreciate that doing hour after hour cycling indoors alone (with no air to cool you; and with legs moving continuously not stopping at junctions, roundabouts, traffic lights, downhills etc) is not an easy way out. In fact, it’s torture compared to doing the same miles on the road.
This brief and conservative challenge is not a Calais-Cannes ride in 4 days, or a ride to Santander (the city, not the bank); it’s only the same as riding from Esher to Beijing, in a year, but it’s my own little challenge to keep me focused on riding as many miles as I can over the next two months. I hope you’ll join me on the DV rides and perhaps set your own challenges.
This week saw the first of the DV evening Training Rides. What’s a training ride? A short fast ride in a small group, not social, no stopping (traffic lights and junctions aside!). As fast as the group can sustain for about an hour basically. The loop for last night’s ride was 20mile circuit from Hampton Court, around Upper Haliford, Chertsey, Brooklands, Walton.
It was a superb first ride – the route and details from Strava is below.
Fast riding in the dark you say? Is that safe? Well, unlike the Summer evening rides, the route for these needs to be on well lit roads – and thanks to MattP for showing us a great route. But of course we need to be visible too and don’t even think about doing these rides without full lights fitted and charged. Between the three of us last night I think we may have been giving off enough light to be visible from outerspace. Dr David had fitted a light brighter than the sun – sourced from eBay for thrupence apparently, even outshining (literally) my own light show using Exposure Joystick helmet mounted and Trace and TraceR on the bike. Wearing something fluorescent or reflective would be a sensible move too.
Anyway, the message is: come and join us – for evening training rides, or for weekend rides. If you feel the shorter days and duller weather is stopping you riding, come and prove it doesn’t need to. In January, Dittons Velo did as much riding as any month in summer – and the members that kept going throughout the Autumn and Winter months really saw the benefits in their early season fitness. A lot of you have put a lot of time and effort into training during Spring and Summer – maintaining fitness in Autumn and Winter will mean you won’t be starting from scratch again next Spring!
If you want to know when these evening training rides happen, or if you’re a resident of Esher, Thames Ditton, Cobham or the Elmbridge area and you’re looking for a group to join some weekend rides, sign up here and come and join us for weekend or evening rides or contact us with any questions.
Last Sunday (24th August 2014), the now honourable members of the exclusive DVCC (Dittons Velo Century Club): Hobbs, Dick, NigelS, IanP, MattW, Dr. David, Rob, me completed the first DV100 ride. Sandra joined us on the ride out to Henley but was on duty at the regatta, so sadly couldn’t join us for the return leg. We all set off from Esher together in the chilly morning air at 730am, with Hobbs and Dick keeping to their own pace after we left Cobham and started heading towards Ripley. We all re-grouped in Henley to celebrate passing the half-way mark.
For a 100mile route, it was a very flat route with only 2000′ of climbing (trust me, it’s not easy to plan a route that flat!). The route was planned giving a longer first ‘half’ so by the time we arrived in Henley for a well-deserved snack, we’d already ridden about 55miles making the ride home the ‘short half’. Our Henley stop was a little longer than intended, but great snacks, socialising, atmosphere and weather at the skiffing regatta. (And well done Dittons)
As is often the way, we got confused in Windsor Great Park (the Garmin navigation software pleads ignorance) but eventually found our way out, pointing in roughly the right direction. However we made another slight deviation to the route which ultimately meant we had to add a few miles at the end of the ride – with a lap of Bushy Park and then a victory lap of Kingston to make up the full 100.
Nigel suffered a slow puncture in the last mile or so, but the tyre carried him just to the 100mile point with Cafe Rouge in sight, before it ran flat. For many of us on the ride, including myself, this was the first time we’d attempted 100miles in one ride so this was a great achievement and well done everyone. Thanks to the faster riders who may have done century rides before and who had to slow down their pace to ensure everyone was able to keep going for the full 100 (in itself that’s difficult to do, for so many hours on the bike) but it was great to have everyone along for company and the encouragement was fantastic!
So, that’s the first DV100 done.When do we do the next one? What route should we take for the next DV100?