Monday, 10 February 2014

No more Sportives.......

......more Sportives than ever.
Just an opinion........

One of the spin-offs of a recreation or sport becoming more mainstream, is that there are more and more people and organizations set up to meet the demand and make money out of it's increasing popularity. 

Of course there is nothing wrong with that....after all everyone needs to make a living... However the more popular something becomes it can't help but attract a closer look from all interested parties...

Ten years ago there were a few sportives being run in this area each year and in general, compared to nowadays, they tended to be smaller with a field of up to say, a couple of hundred riders .....
.....now hardly a weekend goes by without some form of organised sportive or massed ride taking place. 

Not only are they taking place more often, but they have more and more riders taking part with really huge numbers of riders hitting the road......

All good for the organisers...commercial or charity... also good for all involved in the bicycle industry with more bikes and accessories and kit being sold.....

However I feel that if we are not careful, it's this very increase in the popularity of Sportives which could end up being it's undoing. 

Take the New Forest area which is about ten miles down the road from me....
I love riding my bike along the forest roads and get a lot of enjoyment from sharing the experience with friends....
....but the roads are often narrow and difficult at the best of times, with a lot of visitors to the area deciding to spend their holidays there and adding to the already busy roads.....

When the sportives were smaller and not taking place so often people could live with the odd bit of inconvenience on the roads...  

Now there are so many riders taking part and as I said it is almost every weekend during the summer months, that I think eventually restrictions could well be introduced.... restrictions on how many sportives can be run in any area as well as a limit on the maximum number of participants.

I for one would not want to live in the New Forest area these days with the number of sportives that now take place. 

The roads are everyone's to share....the trouble is that nowadays these mass events seem to actually takeover the roads rather than sharing them and I  don't think that in the long term it does much to help cycling's PR...

As I said at the beginning...just an opinion....

For my part I've decided that I won't be riding any more sportives....
The last few I rode were not that enjoyable for me.... I found the huge numbers of riders involved actually detracted from the experience.....

I like to pace myself over the distance...
Unfortunately so many other riders don't, shooting off like rockets at the start only to slow to a snails pace further into the event... 

I then catch them up and have to try and negotiate passing all these pro-wannabees as they are strung out all across the first major ascent.... not the most enjoyable way to ride in my book, especially after paying the hugely inflated entrance fees that these events seem to demand these days...

Each to their own of course...but for me I will continue to concentrate on my own supported and un-supported long distance rides and also the Audax rides which I feel share the road a lot better (due to the smaller numbers riding them) . 

By the way, the cost of entering an Audax event in the UK is a fraction of the entrance fee for a sportive.....

For those that love them, Sportives obviously fill a need and can be a lot of fun for the riders. 
However I think that organisers should give a bit more thought about the effects the high number of events and riders have on the already damaged public perception of cyclists and a bit less about all the money that can be made......

  

8 comments:

Peter Roberts said...

Fully agree. And for me the future will be Audax, a much more leisurely pursuit and where organization is done by local clubs and the big commercial markeing machines have not yet ventured

Steve A said...

It hasn't gotten to that point in North Central Texas or in Costal Washington, but your concern is well warranted.

Dazza F said...

I am new to cycling and have never really wanted to take part in a sportive. I enjoy riding alone or with a few but not as a mass strewn out over miles of countryside. I have some mates trying to talk me into doing a coupkle this year. But I have politely declined.

There She Rides said...

I am SO new to cycling that I did my first sportive without realising that was what it was.

I must admit that, for this new cyclist at least, they represent a chance to discover new routes and to ride with others. I cover a lot of miles with only Ken Bruce for company and it makes a refreshing change!

Marsha said...

There is a place for these rides. They give beginners a way to attempt longer or more difficult rides with the support of sag stops and vehicles (and perhaps even a bike mechanic or two). But you do move beyond them at some point. My husband and I do them periodically for social reasons or to support a worthy charity or club. The problem comes when too many of the rides do the same areas or routes. Then they are just aggravate the local citizens by clogging up the roads. (A definite problem if you live in a cycling paradise area...)

John Sullivan said...

32,000 of us take of the very large streets, avenues and bridges of the five boroughs of NYC on the first Sunday in May every year. I can think of no better way to see New York than traveling 12-14 MPH on a bicycle for 3 or 4 hours.

As you said, it can be over done, but then again, it can be a really great thing.

Colleen said...

I agree with you from the standpoint of an experienced long-distance cyclist. I too am done with paying money to do a supported ride. However, I also agree with those above who commented that the supported ride is great for beginning cyclists. My first long-distance supported ride was the Seattle to Portland (STP). I had wanted to do it, but couldn't find anyone to go with me, so I didn't do it. The next year, still not getting any takers, I vowed to do it anyway. It was a great experience, and put me, literally, on the road to many more rides. Finally, I ODed on supported rides, doing 11 in one summer. Now, I'm much happier making my own ride experiences.

Trevor Woodford said...

Thanks everyone for your comments....sorry about the delay in acknowledging your various and interesting points of view, but I decided to have a months total 'Hibernation' brought on by January's atrocious weather I think lol...