Eight of the best May Bank Holiday sportives

Hilly routes, long-standing favourites and fast, flat centuries

The May Day Bank Holiday is the perfect time to enter a sportive (if the weather plays ball, that is…), with a winter of riding behind you and plenty going on across the long weekend.

Yorkshire will be welcoming the pro peloton for the second Tour de Yorkshire and there’s an accompanying sportive, for starters, but there’s plenty going on elsewhere in the UK if that doesn’t take your fancy.

Will you be spending your Bank Holiday riding a sportive? (Pic: Welcome to Yorkshire)

Hilly courses, long-standing favourites and fast, flat centuries are all among the sportives on offer from Saturday April 30 to Monday May 2 this year.

We’ve picked out eight events across the country which caught our eye, so what are you waiting for? Check them out and get signed up before it’s too late.

Tour de Yorkshire Ride, Sunday May 1

What better place to start than the Tour de Yorkshire Ride, the official sportive of the pro race? The sportive takes place on the same day as the third and final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire and takes in many of the same roads.

Starting and finishing in Scarborough, all three routes – 40km, 85km and 119km – take in the timed climb of the Cote de Harwood Dale, and you can see how you fare against David Millar.

And once you’ve finished, you can watch the pros battle it out for the win on the sea front.

Routes: 40km, 85km 119km
Price: £42, £46, £49
Tour de Yorkshire Ride

Drumlanrig Challenge, Saturday April 30

Billed as Scotland’s longest running sportive, the Drumlanrig Challenge was first organised in 2006 and with ten years experience has grown bigger and better.

The event is split into a ‘morning route’, which for 2016 is now 50 miles long, or a full 88-mile route – split in half by a lunch break.

The Mennock Pass is among the highlights of the Drumlanrig challenge (pic: KFCSpike, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Starting and finishing at Drumlanrig Castle, the sportive – which supports the Christian charity Tearfund – includes Tynron Hill (back on the route after being resurfaced), Mennock Pass (11.4km at three per cent) and the Dalveen Pass.

Online registration has closed, but anybody wanting a late entry is advised to contact the event organisers.

Routes: 50 miles, 88 miles
£3 registration plus donation to Tearfund
Drumlanrig Challenge

Cycle Derby Spring Classic sportive, Sunday May 1

Cycle Derby host two sportives a years, and the Spring Classic boasts a new start/finish location in 2016.

Markeaton Park, in Derby, will host the start, finish and event village and there are three routes available taking riders out into the Derbyshire and Staffordshire countryside.

The longest of those, the Cycle Derby 160km, heads out towards Kedleston Hall and out of Derbyshire to the Blithfield Reservoir.

Cannock Chase is the chief highlight, an undulating 5.5km climb, before the route heads back towards Derbyshire.

The Radleigh 40km and HUUB Events 80km are the other two routes available.

Routes: 160km, 80km, 40km
£35 (40km £25)
Cycle Derby Sportive

Preseli Angel, Sunday May 1

Set against the beautiful Welsh backdrop of North Pembrokeshire, the Preseli Angel features two routes of 78 miles and 40 miles.

Organisers boast that it is ‘organised how sportives should be (and used to be)’ meaning a strong focus on a challenging, rolling parcous, food, drinks, support and stunning views.

This is reflected in the low cost of the event – just £15 per rider, though there is only capacity for 200 in all on the event.

Both routes include a climb of the Preseli Mountains and super-fast descent, while the longer route returns to the mountains for the infamous “Bessie’s” climb.

Challenging descents match the challenging climbs to put your full repertoire of riding skills to the test.

Routes: 40 miles, 78 miles
Website: Velo-Teifi

Wiggle Wye Valley Warrior Sportive, Sunday May 1

Centred on the Anglo-Welsh border, the Wiggle Wye Valley Warrior Sportive takes in in the stunning scenery of the Wye Valley.

Rolling out from Chepstow Racecourse, sportive riders will enjoy a route set against the rugged backdrop of the undulating Wye Valley and zig-zagging River Wye, before crossing into England.

Wiggle’s Wye Valley Warrior crosses the Anglo-Welsh border (Wic: Wiggle)

From there, it’s through the Forest of Dean – via two more small climbs – and then the undulating country roads of the border.

There are hills aplenty on the way back across the border, with 8,615ft of climbing packed into the ‘Epic’ 102-mile route.

A 79-mile ‘Standard’ route, boasting 6,597ft of climbing, and a ‘Short’ 41 miles are also on offer.

Routes: 102 miles, 79 miles, 41 miles
£35 (Short £26)
UK Cycling Events

Cambridge 100, Sunday May 1

Looking to clock an early-season century to take advantage of the extra rest day Bank Holiday Monday offers?

The Cambridge 100 – one of three routes on offer on the day, with 50-mile and 35-mile rides also available – is an ideal way to test the legs.

Featuring relatively little climbing – it’s not totally flat, with a total 1,140ft of climbing to be done, but it’s much flatter than some of the other events here – the distance is the biggest challenge (and possibly the wind, of course).

Rolling out of Impington Village College, the route heads north through Cambridgeshire towards the Norfolk coast.

Routes: 35 mies, 50 miles, 100 miles
Price: £24
Bike Events

Norwich Cycle Swarm, Monday May 2

Another chance to clock a relatively flat century comes courtesy of the Norwich Cycle Swarm, which starts and finishes at Carrow Road, home of Premier League football club Norwich City.

The Norfolk countryside provides the backdrop, with the route taking in numerous picturesque villages and heading up the North Norfolk Coast Road.

There are three routes available in all – 35 miles, 70 miles and 100 miles – and the entry fee includes a free post-ride massage and photos, alongside the usual array of feed stations, mobile mechanics and professional first aiders.

Routes: 35 miles, 70 miles, 100 miles
£20 (35-mile £19 online)
Cycle Swarm

What better way to spend the long weekend than riding a sportive?

Lovelo Cycle Works Spring Sportive, Monday May 2

The annual Lovelo Spring Sportive is centred on the Chilterns countryside and aims to take full advantage of the Bank Holiday with a pub stop at the Tring Brewery and post-ride BBQ and live music at Lovelo Cycle Works.

Rolling out of Berkhampstead’s Amersham House, there are three fully-signed routes available to ride – 50km, 80km and 100km. There’s plenty of hills in the Chilterns, so bring your climbing legs.

Entry in advance is £20 or £25 on-the-day, with the opportunity to take maximum advantage of the extra day off.

Routes: 50km, 80km, 100km
£20 (£25 on the day)
Lovelo Cycles (entry via British Cycling)

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