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Sportives....

SteveR_100MilersSteveR_100Milers Posts: 5,987
edited November 2007 in Campaign
as a means of pushing cycling into a wider mainstream acceptance?
In the context of several threads in Race about the ToB whereby there is still clearly a general lack of interest in mass start racing in the country, presumbaly because the majority of the UK public are not interested in cycling full stop.
I have noticed that unsurprisingly even at national champ level, no one (other than friends and families) comes to watch a TT, yet there were many people cheering on riders all day during the Dragon sportive, bearing in mind the latter isn't a race, but it is a mass start event. Certainly there were far far more interested spectators than there were disgruntled drivers, despite the roads being clogged all day with sometimes riders 4-5 abreast let alone 2. With at least one event every weekend throughout the season, then this perhaps might help acclimatise people to the sight of roads full of cyclists.

Posts

  • I don't know how many people would actually enter a sportive, but there is a tendency to cheer on the "ordinary bloke" events, like the London Marathon, in a way that "professional" events aren't supported. Perhaps it's the uncertainty that the "ordinary" will finish.
    If I had a stalker, I would hug it and kiss it and call it George...or censored
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3 ... =3244&v=5K
  • Sportives seem to have more of a 'get on your bike and go' feel. I agree with tourist tony in saying that the element of personal challenge and the real possibility of failing are quite attractive
  • MossriderMossrider Posts: 226
    Having cycled in South Wales recently - both in the Cynon and Rhondda Fach and Fawr, the level of support might be a local thing. I felt it was noticeable that, after experience of cycling in both Yorks / Derbys and the southeast, the courtesy extended to me as a cyclist by both pedestrians and motorists was superb.

    I was on Rourkies ride this last weekend and there was some aggravation (but not a lot).

    Also, on a sportif, once a driver has passed a few groups of cyclists I suspect that they resign themselves to 20mph...
  • DoomDoom Posts: 133
    With at least one event every weekend throughout the season, then this perhaps might help acclimatise people to the sight of roads full of cyclists.

    You only have to see how cycling has gripped the conciousness of the ordinary person through properly organised and run 'sportives' in countries like South Africa to see the benefits to the country as a whole. Through a steadily growing interest in big mass participation rides such as the Argus (35000 starters) and the 94.7 (25000 starters) has changed SA cycling as on an almost weekly basis you can now enter and compete at appropriately organised and graded events.

    The biggest difference came through full/part road closures and the creation of a national seeding system which ranks EVERYONE and thus creates a much more even racing system with equitable groups right through the field i.e. A category through to ZZ cat depending on starting numbers!! Its now a common site to see groups of riders numbering in their 100's on a saturday training ride.

    Critical mass!!
    FCN: 4
  • DoomDoom Posts: 133
    Doom wrote:
    Critical mass!!
    as an addition:

    Having done 'participation' rides here including the British cyclosportive the organisation is not comparable or good in most instances and the events are TOO HARD to tempt anyone other than committed cyclists to part with entry fees and onto the bikes.

    Taking the Brit cyclosportive as an indication it was a real challenge and I enjoyed it but the organisation was poor IMO and the roads/route was dangerous made worse by free flowing traffic. I saw more than one close encounter including a rider picking himself and bike out of the foliage after avoiding a corner cutting car.
    FCN: 4
  • clantonclanton Posts: 1,287
    Agreed but aren't there some sportives now in Britain with closed roads - I think the Etape de Caledonia is one.
  • DoomDoom Posts: 133
    clanton wrote:
    Agreed but aren't there some sportives now in Britain with closed roads - I think the Etape de Caledonia is one.

    The only I think but then I'm a cyclist and I dont know about half the rides that come and go and yet I look in on places such as this and magazines etc...
    FCN: 4
  • Sub3_99Sub3_99 Posts: 1,591
    I have to agree with Doom. In South Africa the average cycle sport ride is around 100km in length with courses that are either suited to beginners/inexperienced cyclists, or have secondary routes that allow for newcomers to experience the sport without being intimidated by the distances or difficulty. In the UK it appears as if event organisers, instead of trying to attract newcomers, are trying to outdo each other with more & more difficult routes. Yes there is a place for the hard challenge ride, but these should be the exception, not the rule.

    What this country (UK) needs are some flattish 80 - 100km cycle sport events designed to attract newcomers. Hopefully the Evans Sunday Sportifs & the Kiltogo series will go this way, as the organisers of these events see the commercial benefits in attracting more cyclists to the more competitive side of the sport.
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    I think people are attracted by the challenge of sportives - I don't think a 100k flat route would be attractive to newcomers. Yes some of the super hard sportives may be too much for them but many have a shorter route - and if you can't ride 50-60 hilly miles in the UK I don't think you are likely to be looking at sportive type rides anyway.

    I may be wrong but I don't think there is a market for 80k-100k on flat or gently rolling terrain.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • richaricha Posts: 1,634
    +1.

    80k of flat cycling ???

    It's supposed to be a challenge event not a fun 'run'.
    Rich
  • JokullJokull Posts: 248
    Having lived in South Africa for a while, and ridden the Cape Argus and the 94.7, and also done some UK sportives (the Dragon Ride, the White Rose Classic, plus a few others), I think the difference is due to the events that started the trend in the two countries.

    In South Africa, all of the rides are inspired by the Cape Argus, which happened to be just over 100 km. It's associated with a professional race, and the better amateur cyclists treat in like a race. The fact that the event has seeded start groups means that for most people, there is an incentive to improve, so that you move up through the start groups and ride with faster riders, with the ultimate aim for most riders of doing a sub 3 hour ride.

    In Britain, the event that most sportives use as their model is the Fred Whitton, which is 100 miles long, insanely hard, isn't a race, and doesn't have a seeded start. Because there aren't seeded bunches, you end up riding in a mixed-ability group, so it becomes 100 miles of individual suffering. Those who are capable aim for a good time, those who aren't aim to survive.

    South African riders don't want to do harder rides (very few people do the Jock, which is more like a UK sportive), becuase they don't fit in with their training for 'normal' events. British riders don't want to do easier rides, because they aren't a 'challenge' (the idea of sportives as an actual race, with seeded bunches doesn't look like its going to work because of British road laws/road conditions).

    So, for sportives to be the means for cycling to enter the mainstream in the UK, they'd have to be more like the London Marathon, which basically means they'd have to be more like the South African model, but because of the precedent of the Fred Whitton in this country, that isn't going to happen.

    (Apologies for the long post, but I've been thinking about this for a while)
  • DoomDoom Posts: 133
    Jokull wrote:
    So, for sportives to be the means for cycling to enter the mainstream in the UK, they'd have to be more like the London Marathon, which basically means they'd have to be more like the South African model, but because of the precedent of the Fred Whitton in this country, that isn't going to happen.

    When put like that I can see the flaws of trying to apply the SA model here however the one bug bear I have is the organisation of the UK events compared with professional approaches you see elsewhere.

    Entry systems are archaic at best and the scrum at the start of the bigger events such as the dragon ride you mention could so simply be resolved with some basic seeding from past event times or stricter control of the race numbers.

    I am not suggesting that we start hosting 80km flat rides but having those as an option on the tougher events would attract more riders and that at the end of the day is what these events are all about.
    FCN: 4
  • Doom wrote:
    Jokull wrote:
    So, for sportives to be the means for cycling to enter the mainstream in the UK, they'd have to be more like the London Marathon, which basically means they'd have to be more like the South African model, but because of the precedent of the Fred Whitton in this country, that isn't going to happen.

    When put like that I can see the flaws of trying to apply the SA model here however the one bug bear I have is the organisation of the UK events compared with professional approaches you see elsewhere.

    Entry systems are archaic at best and the scrum at the start of the bigger events such as the dragon ride you mention could so simply be resolved with some basic seeding from past event times or stricter control of the race numbers.

    I am not suggesting that we start hosting 80km flat rides but having those as an option on the tougher events would attract more riders and that at the end of the day is what these events are all about.

    The 80km flat ride brings to mind a TT. I've never once seen any official ask a rider remove to TT bars at a UK sportif ... I've even seen people on full TT bikes trying to ride in bunches
  • Sub3_99Sub3_99 Posts: 1,591
    The 80km flat ride brings to mind a TT. I've never once seen any official ask a rider remove to TT bars at a UK sportif ... I've even seen people on full TT bikes trying to ride in bunches
    The South African model does not allow TT or triathlon bars for any of the participants, anyone who pitches with them is asked to remove them, and if they do not comply, then they are not permitted to start. It is not a TT as there is bunch riding & slipstreaming.

    The more popular 100km rides in South africa have a couple of challenging climbs which tend to break up the groups, but these are not the distinguising features of the rides. The idea is that the fitter faster cyclists can go for their times while the less fit or novices can enjoy a sociable ride. As Jokul said, the aim is to complete the 100km event in under three hours (hence my username reflecting the year I first achieved this magical mark in the Cape Argus).
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