The sportive season has all but ended in the UK, with cyclists everywhere shrinking away from the cold, wet weather and dark evenings. It may seem a long way away now, but if you plan to ride in some of the country’s most prestigious amateur sportive events in 2015, now is the time to start thinking and, in many cases, booking.
Every area has its sportives, many of which you can roll up to on the day and be assured of a place. However, the better-known sportives – and they’re better-known for a reason – require a little planning. And even then – Fred Whitton – you can’t be sure of getting a place.
So, to help you on your way we’ve compiled part 1 (January – June) of the toughest UK sportives 2015 along with dates for you to get in your diaries. These are the events you’ll not want to miss out on.
Lionheart Sportive 2015
When? 22nd March
Where? Longleat, Wiltshire
Distance? 60 miles; 100 miles
Total Ascent? 1020m; 1340m respectively
Cost? £40; £42 respectively
It’s difficult to find a truly tough early season sportive, but Wiltshire’s Lionheart sportive offers a decent distance and a closed-road hill climb to get your legs going. Getting your first century under you belt this early in the year is impressive, so we reckon that counts as tough.
Starting out from the fantastic Longleat Estate Lionheart has become a favourite among sportive riders. And how many sportives that you’ve ridden begin mere metres from a enclosure?
Fred Whitton Challenge 2015
When? 10th May
Where? Grasmere, Lake District
Distance? 112 miles
Total Ascent? ~3,300m
Cost? £50 (entry by ballot)
Taking in all of the famous Lake District passes in a single day event, the Fred Whitton Challenge is not an event to be trifled with, even if it does take in the truly spectacular terrain on the Lake District.
Run in memory of Fred Whitton, beloved former secretary of the Lakes Road Club, this charitable event raises money for a range of charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support and the North West Air Ambulance.
Taking in the climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose passes your legs may never feel the same upon completion; some of the climbs are upwards of 25-30%. Entries are expected to open early in 2015 (around January 7th), and are done by ballot, so there’s no guarantee you’ll get a place.
Etape du Dales 2015
When? May 17th
Where? Grassington, North Yorkshire
Distance? 114 miles
Total Ascent? 3,500m
Probably less well-known than the others on the list, the Etape du Dales is nevertheless a tough and potentially wet grind through the Yorkshire Dales, taking in Buttertubs and Coal Road.
A charity ride in support of the Dave Raynor Fund, the money raised during the Etape du Dales is donated in support of young up-and-coming British cyclists in honour of successful youth rider, Dave Raynor.
The Tour of Wessex 2015
When? 23rd – 25th May
Where? Somerton, South Somerset
Distance? 355 miles across 3 days. Individual stages available
Total Ascent? 7,700m (all 3 days)
Cost? £120 (£40 per day)
If one day events aren’t enough for you and you’re in need of extended punishment, then the Tour of Wessex could be the challenge for you.
Starting in Somerton – suggested as the possible capital of the Kingdom of Wessex – the Tour of Wessex comprises of three back-to-back century rides with plenty of climbing thrown in for good measure.
Day 1 (107 miles) takes you to the north passing up the famous Cheddar Gorge, before taking turn east and back through parts of Wiltshire. Day 2 (117 miles) takes a turn to the south and to the Purbeck Heritage Coast as far as Corfe Castle in Dorset. Day 3 (112 miles) heads over the Quantox and west to the leg-destroying Exmoor hills and Exmoor Heritage Coast.
Wiggle Dragon Ride 2015
When? 7th June
Where? Margam Park, South Wales
Distance? 187 miles (Dragon Devil); 140 miles; 95 miles; 26 miles
Total Ascent? 3,400m; 2,900m; 2,000m; 400m respectively
Cost? £95; £60; £55; £35 respectively. Dragon Tour and Charity Entry also available
Quick to sell out, the Wiggle Dragon Ride is touted as one of the most popular and toughest sportives in the UK. And with the longest standing at a staggering 187 miles, who are we to argue?
And now – should you require further punishment – you can take on the 3-day Dragon Tour starting from £199. Three days of beautiful cycling through South Wales. What could be better and more painful?