By now you should have already booked your sportives for the first half of the year. If you haven’t, get on with it; places are quickly selling out.
We’re now in February and the second half of the year seems far closer than it did even a month ago. And guess what? Registration for many UK sportives isn’t far away from beginning. The popular ones (usually the toughest) will sell out quickly.
So, in the continued interest of cycling facilitation we’ve compiled the second (and concluding part) of our list of the toughest UK sportives for 2015. Get the dates in your diary, you’ll not want to miss out. And you can find part 1 here…
The Monster Sportive
When? July 11th
Where? Llangadog, South Wales
Distance? 120 miles
Total Ascent? 4400m
Cost? TBA (Entries from March 1st)
With more climbing than the feared Fred Whitton – generally considered the most difficult UK sportive – The Monster Sportive could certainly pose a few challenges.
With only 100 entries available, it is a sportive “aimed at experienced riders who are bored of the standard, easy sportive events out there”.
And while that may come across as slightly elitist, it is good advice; only 65% of entrants in 2014 were classified as finishers. The time to make? 10.5 hours.
Iron Mountain Sportif
When? August 8th
Where? Abergavenny, Mid Wales
Distance? 100 miles; 50 miles; 20 miles
Total Ascent? 2300m; 1000m; 250m
Cost? £33; £25; £10
Part of the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling, the Iron Mountain Sportif is one of the main events in Wales’ biggest cycling festival.
Composed of the National Road Race Championships course used in 2009, this is a route that has been ridden by Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas and many other professionals besides.
For those looking for a serious challenge, the Gold Ride (100 miles) takes in the famous Tumble Mountain, ascending to 1,500 metres over 3 miles. There’s a reason it’s renowned in the area.
When? September 5th
Where? Applecross Peninsula, Scotland
Distance? 90 miles
Total Ascent? 2900m
A ride around the Applecross Peninsula would be hard enough. Taking in Bealach, the UK’s biggest continuous road climb – 626m from sea level over 6 miles – seems like madness.
Still, though your legs will likely end up in tatters by the end of this epic sportive, the area boasts some of Scotland’s most enjoyable landscapes. That should help take the edge off the pain.
When? October 18th
Where? Tiverton, South West england
Distance? 100 miles; 60 miles
Total Ascent? 1900m; 1250m
Cost? TBA (Entries opening “very soon”)
Having completed my own ride through Exmoor last year (which ended up at 145 miles), I know better than most how difficult the landscape can be. Seemingly, every hill is in excess of 25%.
Happily, Exmoor furnishes its visitors with exceptional sea views, especially descending down into Minehead. This ride is called the ‘Beast’ for good reason. Keep an eye out for entries.
Wiggle Etape Cymru
Where? Wrexham, North Wales
Distance? 85 miles
Total Ascent? 2600m
Dubbed the ‘UK’s toughest closed road sportive’ and voted ‘sportive of the year’ in 2012, you can be sure that if you sign up for Wiggle’s Etape Cymru you’re in for a good, if challenging, day out.
Starting and finishing in Wrexham, North Wales, Etape Cymru passes through the Clwydian Range – an area of outstanding natural beauty – a and Dee Valley, taking in some of the best scenery Wales has to offer.
For those who would like to show off their prowess up the hills the ride offers a timed King of the Mountains stage for the Horseshoe Pass climb; 317m in height, gained over 6.1km, reaching an eye-watering 20%.