Contentious issue this one, the price of the commercial sportive.
I will start by stating that I really enjoy a sportive. They are a great way to get into the sport, ride in new areas, and to ride with and meet lots of other cyclists. The other great aspect is the pedal and forget attitude. You can turn up with your bike and helmet and just set off, everything else is done for you. No concerns of getting lost, being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a puncture, or running out of food and water. Plus there’s also the freebies they chuck in, like a t shirt and a medal, product samples, and the obligatory water bottle from this years sponsor. You get timed as well, with that little sticker on your helmet judging who’s fastest out of your mates or distance group.
It’s great that cycling has its share of large organised events, they are a good front for the industry/ hobby/ sport.Though, I do write those three words in that order for a reason. Sportives span both the event management and cycle industries. They are 1. A business, 2. Partaken by hobbyists, 3. In their chosen sport.
This is where, in my opinion, they are starting to lose their shine.
There’s starting to be heavier emphasis on product demonstrations, sponsor tie ins, and turning up with the latest gear. With less emphasis actually on the routes, from experience the local uk cycling events courses haven’t seemed to have changed in three years. In fact last year one events shorter distance was essentially a rebadged version of another event from the previous year, and this course would then be used again in its original guise later in the year! This is also coupled with increasing cost of entry. Most Sportives now cost £30 plus to enter.
Again I do like a good sportive but £35 to cycle in my own back yard, on a a course I’ve ridden three times, to get a tshirt that will stay in the plastic bag with the others. I don’t want a mug, I don’t want a commemorative jersey, and I don’t want another bottle! Come on organisers, give us the option just to do the ride. After all that is why we are there right? Stop the emphasis on the peripheral guff and vary the routes, make the ride new, don’t let that part become just as frivolous as the ill fitting tshirt. Don’t let the ride become boring. Don’t let it be about the guff. Don’t let the pound notes turn you, there’s only so long before everyone has had their fill.
I’m still riding a fair few this year though…….. Hypocrite!