Eleven of the best sportives to ride in May - Road Cycling UK

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Eleven of the best sportives to ride in May

Looking for an early hit out with summer on the horizon? Here are the best sportives with entry still available

Whisper it quietly, but the weather’s starting to improve and summer will soon be upon us, so what better time to book yourself onto a May sportive and test your legs?

There are plenty of options available, and while some of the biggest – most notably the hugely popular, fiercely tough, Fred Whitton Challenge – need to be booked well in advance, there are still plenty with entry still available.

Tough climbs, stunning backdrops and iconic routes all feature in the best of May’s sportives

You may need to be quick, particularly for those earlier in the month, but if you fancy a sportive in May we’ve picked out 11 of the best which can still be entered.

Fancy one? Here are the details you need to know…

The Pearson’s Brighton & Back Sportive, Sunday May 7

Now in its seventh year, the Pearson Brighton & Back Sportive rolls out from Sutton in Surrey and does exactly what it says on the tin on a 150km route.

Unless, that is, you opt for the 70km Brighton One Way option, which funnily enough only goes way.

Starting from the Royal Marsden Hospital, whose Cancer Charity the sportive supports, the 150km out-and-back option takes in the climbs of the North and South Downs en route to a rapid descent into Brighton, before an undulating return.

The 70km one-way route is designed for sportive novices, but still takes in the climbs and descents of the Downs.

Route: 70km, 150km
Entry fee: 
Pearson Cycles

Fat Lad at the Back’s Up North Sportive, Sunday May 7

Ideal for sportive first-timers, or riders looking for a more relaxed sportive to ride, Fat Lad at the Back’s Up North Sportive offers three routes on all, with a focus on a top day out.

That’s not to say it’s not a challenge – it’s based in Yorkshire, so you have to be prepared for a few hills, particularly on the longer “The Fullock 75 Miler” route.

Fat Lad at the Back’s Up North Sportive offers a challenging ride but is aimed at sportive first-timers (pic: FLAB)

Also available are the Up T’Dale 25 Miler, aimed at beginner’s and the Over Yonder 50 Miler – rated 3/5 for difficulty.

Fat Lad in Charge Richard Bye has chosen his local routes for their stunning backdrops and varied, challenging rides but if you want to enter, be quick – registration closes on Wednesday May 3.

Route: 25 miles, 50 miles, 75 miles
Entry fee: 
Fat Lad at the Back

Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive, Saturday May 13

Part of three days of cycling action in Lincoln, the Lincoln GP Sportive takes place on the Saturday, sandwiched between the Lincoln Criterium and main Lincoln Grand Prix.

A popular fixture on the domestic racing calendar, the Grand Prix is characterised by the cobbled climb of Michaelgate, and the sportive offers you the chance to tackle the same (closed-road) ascent.

Michaelgate is the stand-out feature of the Lincoln GP (pic – Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

And that’s not all – the sportive is packed with challenging climbs out in the Lincolnshire Wolds, which must be paced carefully if you are to have anything left for that last 20 per cent, cobbled ramp.

Four routes are available in all, from the 33-mile Mini to the 100-mile main event.

Route: 33 miles, 60 miles, 78 miles, 100 miles
Entry fee: 
£26 (Mini), £36 (all others)
ITP Events

Evans Cycles Yorkshire Road Sportive, Sunday May 14

The Evans Cycles Yorkshire Road Sportive is part of Evans’ nationwide Ride It! Series.

Starting at Dunscombe Park, the ride takes in the best of the North Yorkshire Moors, where quiet roads, beautiful backdrops and challenging climbs such as White Horse Bank all feature.

There are four routes in all, from the 22km ‘fun’ route to the 153km ‘long’ route – the latter packing in 7,865ft of climbing.

Route: 14 miles, 34 miles, 63 miles, 95 miles
Entry fee: 
Evans Cycles

Etape du Dales, Sunday May 14

Characterised by relentless climbing and steep slopes, the 110-mile Etape du Dales is one of the toughest sportives on the calendar.

The official sportive of the Dave Rayner Fund takes in Fleet Moss, Buttertubs, Tan Hill and Garsdale Head, and has done since long before the Tour de France came to town.

The Etape du Dales takes in some of Yorkshire’s toughest climbs (Pic: Simon Wilkinson/SWPix.com)

Wind-open roads means you can enjoy the best of the white rose countryside, with some stunning backdrops on the moor.

It does mean a windy day will pose its own significant challenge, to add to the climbs and grippy roads, but the reward for finishing is twofold – personal pride, mixed with the knowledge you are helping fund the fledgling careers of some of Britain’s top young riders.

Route: 110 miles
Entry fee: 
Dave Rayner Fund

The Struggle, Sunday May 21

Sticking in Yorkshire, The Struggle is billed as Yorkshire’s toughest sportive and has proved so popular the event organisers have added a second event, in the Moors, in July.

The original struggle starts and finishes in Harrogate, however, and tackles the Dales with the climbing starting almost immediately.

The short, steep ramps come thick and fast throughout the 108-mile route – including Hartwith Bank, Park Rash and Trapping Hill.

Route: 108 miles
Entry fee: 
Ride the Struggle

Etape Caledonia, Sunday May 21

Time to head north of the border now, for one of the most scenic sportives on the British calendar – the Marie Curie Etape Caledonia.

Covering 81 miles in all, the ride starts in Pitlochry and heads out via Loch Rannoch and Loch Tummel, before the climb of Schiehallion in the Scottish Highlands.

A new and improved Event Village, and a series of “Etape Talks” also feature in 2017, with Chris Boardman among the guests the day before the ride, for riders wanting to make a weekend of it.

Route: 81 miles
Entry fee: 
£85 (or £40 with pledge to raise money for Marie Curie)
Etape Caledonia

Wiggle County Durham Dynamo, Saturday May 27

Taking in the best of County Durham and the North Pennines, the Wiggle County Durham Dynamo is now in its second year.

After the cancellation of the Etape Pennines, the Durham Dynamo has filled the vacancy for a sportive taking in the stunning route via Middleton-in-Teesdale, Barnard Castle and Bollihope Common.

The North Pennines offers tough climbs, stunning backdrops and quiet roads (pic – Factory Media/Scott Connor)

Quiet roads are a feature, alongside rolling hills and plenty to test the legs – with the 101-mile Epic route heading as far as Hamsterly Forest, and the climb to Hill End.

There are also 75-mile and 48-mile options available.

Route: 48 miles, 75 miles, 101 miles
Entry fee: 
£26 (short), £35 (standard and epic)
UK Cycling Events

Tour of Wessex, Saturday May 27-Monday May 29

Britain’s biggest multi-day sportive takes in the best climbing on offer in Somerset, over three tough-but-varied days across the Bank Holiday weekend.

Having recently announced Chris Froome’s former mentor David Kinjah will be among the starters this year, the sportive has partnered with the Safari Simbaz charity.

The Tour of Wessex is Britain’s biggest multi-day sportive (Pic: Tour of Wessex)

Though each day starts and finishes in Somerton, the routes vary widely each day, including climbs such as the beautiful Cheddar Gorge, King Alfred’s Tower and the steep Porlock Toll Road.

Routes: 332 miles, 224 miles
Entry fee: 
£135, £120
Pendragon Sports

Continental Tyres Welsh Wild West Sportive, Sunday May 28

The Welsh Wild West Sportive is part of ten days of cycling celebration in Aberystwyth for the Aber Cycle Festival.

Town centre criterium racing, the Edco Hill Climb Knock Out Cup, and downhill mountain biking all feature before the Continental-backed sportive on Sunday May 28.

The sportive itself features for route distances, all of varying difficulty, with Y Corrach (Dwarf) the shortest, and easiest at 26 miles.

Y Diafol (Devil) covers 46 miles in all, while Y Mynach (Monk) is 65 miles in length – both rated ‘medium’ difficulty – while Y Cawr (Giant) is the toughest of the four and tackles 106 miles in all.

Routes: 26 miles, 46 miles, 65 miles, 106 miles
Entry fee: 
£20 (26 miles), £30 (others)
Aber Cycle Fest


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