Posts Tagged ‘sportive’

2010 Sportives

Here’s a list of 2010 sportives as I stumble upon them. Please comment any I’ve missed.

Here’s the list.

No Etape du Dales – yet.

Maratona dles Dolomites


Photograph copyright PatitucciPhoto.

Now this looks like a promising option for 2010: a well-run continental sportive that will be quick without being grotesquely hard – and which can be extended into a sweet summer Euro-trip. And the Maratona website actually looks pretty good, unlike some big cycling-event organisations I could mention.

It’s on.

Read the London Phoenix ride report from this year.

(The above image is displayed courtesy of PatitucciPhoto, who specialise in outdoor and adventure sports photography. You can view a full gallery of their images from this year’s Maratona on Dolomite Sport.)

La Marmotte 2009

Marmotte route.

Marmotte route.

It is finished. The results are in. Now never mention the M word again!


The Dartmoor Classic

Yesterday’s event was a very tough 105 miles in the West Country. The day featured 6 hours of hard riding over relentless hills, more solo slogging than group work, and a sensational performance from Jamie Balment. (more…)

Looming large: the Dartmoor Sportive

On Saturday I’ll be catching a train down to Plymouth in advance of the Dartmoor Classic, a 100-mile sportive. It’s looking pretty hilly:

The Dartmoor Classic route and elevation chart.

The Dartmoor Classic route and elevation chart.

If you’re hitting this from Google you may also be interested in this Mapometer map

I’ll be riding with Jamie and Duncan. Based on my outing with them a fortnight ago, they’re both on pretty useful form. Jamie, in particular, is capable of pushing his body to the limits and beyond, as evidenced by his serious accident in the 2007 London Marathon, where he collapsed from heat exhaustion a few hundred yards before the finish. He still blames a spectator’s food bag, a la Armstrong on the 2003 Tour.

So, even though I’m not supposed to be hammering it 6 days before the Marmotte, I am expecting a decent ride. It should give my legs the shock they need to regain Reigate-like form.

Reigate sportive

The Reigate sportive was potentially my finest hour (4hrs 38 to be exact) on a bike this year. I had a really, really good day and experienced genuine Legs, Feeling No Pressure moments during the second, hilly leg of the ride. (more…)

Putting the communication in Sport Communication

Sport Communication organise a series of big sportives every year in France and beyond. These include La Marmotte, probably the biggest European cyclosportive with 8000 entrants from across the globe. At 35 – 40 euros per rider, that’s a fair bit of cash sloshing around. I’ve now experienced one of their events, and was very pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome at the event centre, the free red wine, the quality of the post-ride meal etc. – but there was a stark contrast between this and my experience before the event. Why is their electronic marketing so dire?

The Grand Trophee half of the Sport Communication website looks like a sad orphaned relic from the early 90s. Using it is a wasabi sandwich of pain. It’s not just the design:

  • the HTML is a horror story: tables, font tags, the lot
  • the back end is painfully clunky
  • signing up online is like groping in the dark
  • the non-French language support is incomplete and inadequate (and my French is OK)

When I initially purchased places on the Ventoux and Marmotte sportives, I didn’t receive a receipt by email for several weeks. When I did, I was sent the wrong details – they thought I was someone else. I emailed a dozen email addresses, with no response. Finally I called a number in France, pleading for clarity. Eventually my details were corrected.

I went to some lengths to get a doctor’s note, because I was told this was compulsory. I wasn’t even asked for it when I registered on arrival.

True, the complimentary bottle of Ventoux wine did smooth things over. It’s not so much the inconvenience though, as just not understanding how SC can have such a high profile without bothering to invest in their website, which is the single crucial point of contact between the organisers and the participants many months before the events themselves.

Mont Ventoux cyclo

A view from the valley

A view from the valley

On Saturday Jonny and I tamed the Giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux. And actually, it wasn’t that bad. 

I admit I’d been dreading it – I’d lost a bit of focus since the Fred Whitton – but on the day we had a tough, fast ride, amid some fantastic scenery, and in the end we placed respectably in the top 200 (out of 483 finishers). My finishing time was 5hrs 20 – a ‘gold’ medal, according to the organisers, although this was meaningless because the time barrier was set so low (7hrs 21 for gold) that all but a handful of the finishers achieved this. (NOTE: the organisers have since amended the gold time to 6hrs 15 for the Master category).

Every 2 years the Ventoux ‘cyclo’ switches its route between the two options for climbing the mountain: a longer 170km route that climbs via Bedoin and Chateau Reynard; and a shorter 144km route that goes up the steeper side via Malaucene. We did the latter. Here’s the Ventoux profile, which I climbed in 1hr 35.

Mont Ventoux profile (via Malaucene)

Mont Ventoux profile (via Malaucene)

Yes, it was long, but compared to the Whitton’s climbs it was very gentle, and there were plenty of sections where you could back off the top sprocket. I’m sure I rode it quicker in an effort to stay on Jonny’s back wheel, but I didn’t over-cook it, unlike the guy I passed vomiting at about 6km from the summit. 

The descent was eye-wateringly fast. There was no time to even spot Tom Simpson’s memorial. Once we made it down to forest level we formed a small 5-man grupetto for some fast-paced through-and-off. Before long we were joined by others, and became a larger group that pelted along the smooth, hot roads to the second feed station. 

Following the second feed the big group fragmented, and after a quick toilet break we latched onto the back of the tail end. There were two modest climbs to go: on the first one I felt strong and rode off the front; on the second I started to fade, and ended up losing Jonny, who finished in a small bunch a couple of minutes before me. 

All in all a fine ride that I would definitely repeat. We lucked out with the weather too: earlier in the week I heard the head-winds had been brutal, while the day after we had rain, a sure recipe for freezing temperatures on the mountain.

Prince’s Gold

I’m pleased with my ride at yesterday’s Prince’s Risborough sportive. I beat the gold time target by a decent margin, doing 126km in 4hrs 20, the same time as I posted for the 114km Burgess Hill Classic in late March. The BHC was admittedly a lot hillier, and that day I spent a fair amount of time solo whereas yesterday I was able to work with small groups of strong riders to draft on the flat. Check the results – I’m around 33 out of 232 finishers. (more…)

Sportive poster-boy


Check it out. The home page currently offers a photo of me pseudo-toasting Jonny in the Puncheur.

While we’re on the subject, I have a couple of suggestions for Mr Phil O’Connor of Sportive Photo. No quibble with the quality of the photography, excellent event coverage, reliable web interface, very fast processing times. But £7.50 for a digital download? It’s too expensive – all I want is to email my Mum and post on this blog. 

This is how I would price images in this scenario:

  • lo-res (600px longest edge) digital download: £3
  • hi-res digital download: £6
  • all hi-res rider photos from single event zipped for download: £25

Printed image prices are fine, as is the bill for burning all images to CD (£30), which clearly takes time.  

But I do think Phil’s pricing misses a trick in deterring the casual digital downloader. I would happily have paid a tenner for a few lo-res files from each event (3 so far this year) – but I won’t pay £22.50. At that price I can handle the watermarks.