Cycling Sportive

What is a Cycling Sportive

In the UK a cycling sportive is a distance event, usually held on one day. It gives a taste of riding with a number of cyclists over a set course. Distances normally vary from 20 – 120 miles; riders depart in groups but then ride at their own pace; although not a race, timing chips are often carried so that entrants can review their times.

Larger sportives may have trade stands at the start / finish and sponsors often give samples to entrants. Rider numbers vary from a few hundred to thousands.

What a good sportive should offer

I have had a lot of experience supporting  commercial or charity (not-for-profit) sportives. Here’s what people look for in a good event:

  • a clear rider briefing at the start, so that everybody knows how to stay safe on the route
  • dedicated contact numbers, so that you can get a prompt reply and consistent information if you need help
  • a well-signed route. Not just huge numbers of signs, rather signage that is placed for a cyclist’s viewpoint which does not intrude on the surroundings
  • well-spaced feed stations which can be accessed and exited without conflicting with traffic whilst pre-occupied with food, un-clipping pedals  etc.
  • a knowledgeable and friendly team en route to help with confidence, mechanical or motivation issues
  • qualified first-aiders. Incidents do happen, and a roving team of medics gets you prompt attention to minimise the impact. Ask for at least one vehicle per 500 participants
  • a process to confirm everybody has finished and is not left stranded!
  • evidence of goodwill from local residents. There is a huge contrast between people standing by the roadside cheering you on and those throwing tacks on the road – I have seen both, and they reflect as much on the organisation as the residents.

When a team of motorcycle marshals are included, they understand the two-wheeler perspective and respond quickly with minimal obstruction to other road users. An effective number is a motorbike per 200 – 400 participants.

A good support team member should offer

  • an understanding of why the participants have turned up. People have different needs, so their levels of independence, fitness and expectation should be respected
  • a professional approach – safe, thorough, courteous and respectful to everyone
  • understand the locality – local customs, a quiet environment or language (if working outside the UK). An event assistant standing outside a house balling ‘slow down’ to riders before a dangerous bend is not actually solving the problem – it is creating several!

Contact me to discuss how I can blend with your team to deliver an exceptional cycling sportive.