The biggest mass participation events of the cycling season normally take place between April and September, which means almost all of them were cancelled in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. So keen cyclists will be itching to get back in the saddle for a major event in 2021. While some sportives are yet to announce their plans for next year, a few are already open for entry so it’s worth securing a spot sooner rather than later.
Fred Whitton Challenge (9th May)
This 183km sportive in the Lake District is not for the faint-hearted – 11-hour finish times are not uncommon. The route seems to cram in every hill in the National Park, with a particularly nasty 30% gradient awaiting riders at the 158km mark. The popularity of the event means a ballot is used to determine who gets a place, and since places for the cancelled 2020 event rolled over to 2021, there will be very few spots available this coming year. However, some people will probably drop out and the amount of places that open up will be announced on the event website on 5th January 2021, so check then to see if you can sign up.
Dulux London Revolution (15th-16th May)
You can take on this 155-mile (249km) loop around London in one go if you think you’re up to the challenge, but it’s far more fun to do it over two days and enjoy the entertainment laid on for you at the halfway mark in Windsor. The route starts in the Olympic Park and takes in the landmarks of central London, then heads south to the North Downs before you stop in Windsor for the night. The next day starts with the Chiltern Hills, then it’s on to Epping Forest and back to the Olympic Park for the finish.
Sign up (opens in new tab) | From £64 for one day, from £119 for two days
See related :
- How To Train For A 100-Mile Sportive
- How To Fuel For A 100-Mile Sportive
- Chris Opie’s Cycling Training Tips
Etape Caledonia (16th May)
Riders at this spectacular Scottish sportive are treated to 85 miles (137km) of closed roads in the Highlands. There are naturally some dastardly climbs to conquer, but the stunning views undoubtedly make them worthwhile. There is also a shorter 40-mile (64km) ride available if the full route sounds a little daunting. General entry for the 2020 race sold out pretty sharpish so if you’re keen on riding Etape Caledonia in 2021 it’s worth booking your spot now.
Sign up (opens in new tab) | £45 (40 miles), £79.99 (85 miles)
Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 (TBC)
The ballot for the biggest sportive on the UK calendar is yet to open, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the event website to ensure you don’t miss your window of opportunity. The 100-mile (161km) ride gives cyclists a unique opportunity to pedal on closed roads in the centre of London, including a finish on The Mall, as well as taking in some of the toughest climbs in the Surrey Hills.
Bealach Mor (11th September)
Here’s a bit of trivia every keen UK cyclist should know: Bealach na Bà is the biggest road climb in the UK, ascending 626m from sea level in just 9km. The 90-mile (145km) route at this sportive around the Applecross Peninsula is one of the toughest you can sign up for, but it’s also one of the most spectacular. There’s a 43-mile (69km) route available too.
London To Brighton Cycle Ride (19th September)
The 87km route from London to Brighton is one every cyclist should try to do at least once in their life and there’s no better way to do it than by joining this charity ride. The route is clearly marked and well supported, with four fixed mechanical help points, and there’s even a buffet lunch at the 46km point if you fancy taking a break and refuelling before you power on to the coast. The event raises a ton of money for an array of charities each year, with the main charity partner being Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Sign up (opens in new tab) | £50, plus £150 fundraising
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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