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Sportive, why are we tolerating this?

StedmanStedman Posts: 377
Judging by the comments on this forum, with a crowded sportive calendar, the clash of key events, long delays at the start, feed stations running out of supplies or close down early, missing signs, poor marshalling, organisers who fail to deliver on promises and failing to handle complaints, something is going catastrophically wrong with this aspect of our sport. I have even been on a sportive which was re-routed and shortened during the event under the instruction of the police!

The chaos is further compounded as there is no formal sportive description or scope and nobody will identify the relationship between timed sportive events and Regulation 2(1) of The Cycle Racing on Highways Regulations, 1960 (and 1980 and 1995 amendments).

I agree that sportives are problematic to organise, however anyone can set themselves up as an events management organisation, advertise their event and take our money via the internet, but with no formal sportive structure in place and nobody overseeing the competence, resources or practices of these organisations it is arguably not surprising that many of these events fail to deliver good service on the day.

Whist the brand is clearly a success, many of us are clearly unhappy with current chaos and it has even been suggested on one thread that there may even be some county police forces who are currently reviewing this aspect of our sport.

Going forwards do we continue to accept the current situation or should we now press for change in order to introduce some formal structure and control into this aspect of our sport and if so, how can this be done?

Arguably if you look at the Audax UK model, good organisation of our sport is achievable!
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  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    Stedman wrote:
    The chaos is further compounded as there is no formal sportive description or scope and nobody will identify the relationship between timed sportive events and Regulation 2(1) of The Cycle Racing on Highways Regulations, 1960 (and 1980 and 1995 amendments).

    And rightly there shouldn't be any correlation, sportives ARE NOT a race in any shape or form. They are a challenging cycle event that happens to have rider timing.

    If you wanted a sportive to fit in with that regulation, it would be classed as a time trial :roll: , I could see some issues with setting off some sportives with individual riders being set off 1 minute apart.

    If you are not happy of how sportives are run, don't do them. You are not obliged to do them you have a free choice, and there are a huge number out there to choose from. If one is lacking avoid it, and do one that has a better response from previous entrants.

    A sportive is a route on the public roads, which happens to be sign posted (normally, though signs can go missing), and normally have a refreshment stop or multiples. You could quite easily do the route without paying on another day by a little bit of route planning, and taking your own food.
  • gilesjukgilesjuk Posts: 340
    SBezza wrote:
    You could quite easily do the route without paying on another day by a little bit of route planning, and taking your own food.

    Or on the day itself. There's no obligation to be signed up to the ride.

    They can't really prove you're not out on your usual sunday ride.

    But I don't mind paying for what are usually charity rides.
  • Stedman wrote:
    Judging by the comments on this forum, with a crowded sportive calendar, the clash of key events, long delays at the start, feed stations running out of supplies or close down early, missing signs, poor marshalling, organisers who fail to deliver on promises and failing to handle complaints, something is going catastrophically wrong with this aspect of our sport. I have even been on a sportive which was re-routed and shortened during the event under the instruction of the police!

    The chaos is further compounded as there is no formal sportive description or scope and nobody will identify the relationship between timed sportive events and Regulation 2(1) of The Cycle Racing on Highways Regulations, 1960 (and 1980 and 1995 amendments).

    I agree that sportives are problematic to organise, however anyone can set themselves up as an events management organisation, advertise their event and take our money via the internet, but with no formal sportive structure in place and nobody overseeing the competence, resources or practices of these organisations it is arguably not surprising that many of these events fail to deliver good service on the day.

    Whist the brand is clearly a success, many of us are clearly unhappy with current chaos and it has even been suggested on one thread that there may even be some county police forces who are currently reviewing this aspect of our sport.

    Going forwards do we continue to accept the current situation or should we now press for change in order to introduce some formal structure and control into this aspect of our sport and if so, how can this be done?

    Arguably if you look at the Audax UK model, good organisation of our sport is achievable!

    This is not something I recognize from my somewhat limited experience. I've done 5 sportives this season and each has been well organised and enjoyable. As a relative newcomer to road cycling I see a sportive as a way in to cycling; without joining a club I can get the feel of riding in a group, I can enjoy the buzz of a mass participation event and I can benchmark my improving fitness against others.

    I know there have been a few examples of shambolic (isn't that a false testicle?) organisation lately (Etape Cymru springs to mind) but it's unfair to tar all with the same brush.

    After completing a few of these events I now feel ready to take the next step and join a club, where no doubt I'll begin at the bottom of the learning curve again.
  • Peddle Up!Peddle Up! Posts: 2,040
    I think I must have been lucky too. All of the sportives I've riden have been, generally, well organised. The quality of the organisation differs, of course, but usually in line with the entry fee.

    Many of these events benefit charities and I always check to see how much, if any, of the entry fee goes directly to the charity. If the organisation falls short and the money goes to a good cause, I'll mention it, but otherwise write it off to experience. If the organisation is rubbish, I'll ask for my money back.
    Purveyor of "up" :)
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    I must admit that I am baffled as to why we tolerate some bad sportives. Case that comes to mind is the Wiggle Dragon ride which has been very vocally criticised by a large number of folks (and magazines) for at least the last two years and yet the next one that comes along never fails to sell out in hours on the back of empty promises to improve and an increase in price. I suspect the next Etape Cymru will be the same.

    A lot of sportives are great (I have only had positive experiences) but we do seem to rush like lemmings to sign up for the well known and expensive bad ones :?
  • An organiser can put together an event for profit, for charity or for fun. In the first case the event will obviously not be value for money, with poor feeding stations and general lack of organisation. The second case is similar, except the rider is more tolerant as he feels is doing something good...
    The only sportives worth doing are those where the organiser devolves time and money to make sure the event is a success, hence he does it for fun... Audaxes are organised for fun and so are some sportives (there might be a little for the Charity, but essentially the money is spent for the riders)...

    Now, if you keep entering the Dragon Ride, which is run for the money, stop complaining that it's censored . It can't be any different, or the profit margin would be significantly reduced. It's a money making exercise and only a portion of the income is spent for the event. That said, Mr Lunardi does some form of good to the local economy of a rather deprived part of the country... so cheer up, eat your crisps and Tesco Value cake and keep pedalling... :lol:
  • In the end, I decided that I could no longer tolerate sportives for all the reasons mentioned.

    ,,,, that is why I started audaxing and I am now a much happier and richer man.
  • oxoneiloxoneil Posts: 147
    dead sheep wrote:
    In the end, I decided that I could no longer tolerate sportives for all the reasons mentioned.

    ,,,, that is why I started audaxing and I am now a much happier and richer man.

    :wink: Precisely. If you're doing sportives just to get into the sport do yourself a favour and head to the AUK site and save yourself a load of money. Some rides will have over 100 or maybe 200 riders which is easily enough to get used to group riding. And if anyone's worried about the rides being too slow or too easy....don't be, they're not!!!
  • de_sistide_sisti Posts: 1,193
    dead sheep wrote:
    In the end, I decided that I could no longer tolerate sportives for all the reasons mentioned.

    ,,,, that is why I started audaxing and I am now a much happier and richer man.
    :wink: Precisely. If you're doing sportives just to get into the activitydo yourself a favour and head to the AUK site and save yourself a load of money. Some rides will have over 100 or maybe 200 riders which is easily enough to get used to group riding. And if anyone's worried about the rides being too slow or too easy....don't be, they're not!!!

    I know of people who've completed a hilly (2000 mtrs) 200km in 7 hours, and that
    included 3 stops of nearly an hour. Ok, it's not super fast, but it's not slow either.
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,685
    Stedman wrote:
    Going forwards do we continue to accept the current situation or should we now press for change in order to introduce some formal structure and control into this aspect of our sport and if so, how can this be done?
    I don't feel any responsibility for rogues and incompetents operating in this part of the UK cycling scene any more than I do for kerb-hopping, RLJing London commuters or a shop with a poor reputation for customer service.

    In this age of social media, forums etc one would hope that supply and demand ought to mean good events prosper and poor ones fail to survive. However, if people continue to pay what appear to be substantial amounts for poorly managed events then those events will continue, in the same way that even bad businesses continue as long as they have customers. Let the lemmings spend as they see fit but if you don't like a sportive then don't enter it.
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • brianonyxbrianonyx Posts: 170
    Most of the ones I have done have been great this year.

    Best was the cycling weekly surrey one a few weeks ago. Good value, food, great route, great organisation.


    The one I thought the most overpriced and least value was the Action Medical Research Essex 100. I know it was for charity but 50 pounds for a fairly normal ride is too much imho. No wonder numbers were pretty low.
  • dead sheep wrote:
    In the end, I decided that I could no longer tolerate sportives for all the reasons mentioned.

    ,,,, that is why I started audaxing and I am now a much happier and richer man.

    Got to agree, after several years riding them, I too have lost faith. Sportives have had their time in the limelight and I have enjoyed riding many and meeting lots of cool people. Its all become way too commercialised. Maybe time for a few Audax's!
    founder of cyclosport.org
  • De Sisti wrote:
    dead sheep wrote:
    In the end, I decided that I could no longer tolerate sportives for all the reasons mentioned.

    ,,,, that is why I started audaxing and I am now a much happier and richer man.
    :wink: Precisely. If you're doing sportives just to get into the activitydo yourself a favour and head to the AUK site and save yourself a load of money. Some rides will have over 100 or maybe 200 riders which is easily enough to get used to group riding. And if anyone's worried about the rides being too slow or too easy....don't be, they're not!!!

    I know of people who've completed a hilly (2000 mtrs) 200km in 7 hours, and that
    included 3 stops of nearly an hour. Ok, it's not super fast, but it's not slow either.


    200km in 4 hours? That's 50kph. That's faster than the last world championships TT.
  • de_sistide_sisti Posts: 1,193

    200km in 4 hours? That's 50kph. That's faster than the last world championships TT.
    That should have read "3 stops totalling 1 hour". :wink:
  • nferrarnferrar Posts: 2,511
    If I organised a sportive I'd concentrate on getting the route, signage and food right - there wouldn't be any timing, goodie bags (full of advertising censored ...), finishers medals or evening-before pasta parties. I get the feeling you'd struggle to get the numbers though without timing and I'm guessing the financial gains would be far out-weighed by the stress so it's not something I'd ever actually do :p
  • marykamaryka Posts: 746
    As a relative newcomer to road cycling I see a sportive as a way in to cycling; without joining a club I can get the feel of riding in a group, I can enjoy the buzz of a mass participation event and I can benchmark my improving fitness against others.
    And this is exactly why I don't do sportives. Who wants a newbie stranger wheelsucking you while trying to benchmark his fitness and getting a "buzz" from riding in a group? I try to avoid people like you in all rides I do as I value my health and safety far too much. :lol:

    Seriously, go join a club for £30 a year -- for the price of a single sportive you can ride every weekend with people that you get to know over time, you can learn a thing or two, you can contribute back to the sport of cycling (presuming your club organises or promotes TTs or races), have ready-made training partners and travel companions for cycling abroad, and even try racing yourself.

    Sportives might be a way to start cycling, but there's no need to keep paying for them and keep doing them once you realise all the other options that are available to you out there.
  • nferrar wrote:
    If I organised a sportive I'd concentrate on getting the route, signage and food right - there wouldn't be any timing, goodie bags (full of advertising censored ...), finishers medals or evening-before pasta parties. I get the feeling you'd struggle to get the numbers though without timing and I'm guessing the financial gains would be far out-weighed by the stress so it's not something I'd ever actually do :p

    Hear hear! This is probably the very reason the Paul Prince's Mad March Hare always sells out. It lacks censored and charges only a modest fee.
  • maryka wrote:
    As a relative newcomer to road cycling I see a sportive as a way in to cycling; without joining a club I can get the feel of riding in a group, I can enjoy the buzz of a mass participation event and I can benchmark my improving fitness against others.
    And this is exactly why I don't do sportives. Who wants a newbie stranger wheelsucking you while trying to benchmark his fitness and getting a "buzz" from riding in a group? I try to avoid people like you in all rides I do as I value my health and safety far too much. :lol:

    Perhaps you should be grateful that sportives exist so that people like me don't end up "wheelsucking" and endangering your "health and safety" on your sunday morning club rides.

    I'd like to join a club and no doubt I'll learn plenty from people with more knowledge and experience. I just hope that when I do join a club that I can be encouraged and welcomed rather than patronised and shunned.
  • marykamaryka Posts: 746
    maryka wrote:
    As a relative newcomer to road cycling I see a sportive as a way in to cycling; without joining a club I can get the feel of riding in a group, I can enjoy the buzz of a mass participation event and I can benchmark my improving fitness against others.
    And this is exactly why I don't do sportives. Who wants a newbie stranger wheelsucking you while trying to benchmark his fitness and getting a "buzz" from riding in a group? I try to avoid people like you in all rides I do as I value my health and safety far too much. :lol:

    Perhaps you should be grateful that sportives exist so that people like me don't end up "wheelsucking" and endangering your "health and safety" on your sunday morning club rides.

    I'd like to join a club and no doubt I'll learn plenty from people with more knowledge and experience. I just hope that when I do join a club that I can be encouraged and welcomed rather than patronised and shunned.

    I guess you missed my :lol: face indicating I wasn't entirely serious in my comment.

    But yes, do join a club. You will be welcomed and you will learn plenty (as all of us have, including me). Give yourself a year or so of riding with a club regularly, then go out and do the kind of sportive that attracts newbies looking for the "buzz" of group riding without the slightest clue how to do it safely. And see how many of them want to suck your wheel without so much as a hello, or a word of thanks. Then you'll know exactly what I mean.
  • Maryka, I saw the face but it seemed a little at odds with what had been written before. I don't think I behave in the manner you describe when riding in a sportive (I'm cautious, I don't sit on wheels and I try to be friendly and polite). Your advice to join a club is good, it's on my to do list for the new season.
  • nferrar wrote:
    If I organised a sportive I'd concentrate on getting the route, signage and food right - there wouldn't be any timing, goodie bags (full of advertising censored ...), finishers medals or evening-before pasta parties. I get the feeling you'd struggle to get the numbers though without timing and I'm guessing the financial gains would be far out-weighed by the stress so it's not something I'd ever actually do :p

    I had ridden sportives for a few years including the dragon, Dave Lloyd and polka dot plus a wiggle or kilotogo ones. After years of racing there was a good group of us ex-racers who would ride as a group and enjoy them. the only down side for me was the cost, not that I cant't afford them but I felt that they were not value for money.

    So instead of stopping riding them or just whining on forums (too much), I organised one. A club one with the support of club members for a modest entry fee of £10. We got 198 entries and the event was a huge success, with lots of comments emailed to me from riders afterwards plus we raised some funds for the club. We didn't have free t-shirts or other cr*p to give away at the end, but had plentiful feeds, energy drinks provided, support vehicle, photographers (from the local camera club - so we gave digital photos for a £5 donation to a local charity) and timing, with the results emailed to all riders at 7.30pm on the day of the event.
    There wasn't a lot of stress involved, if you get a good group of 3 or 4 to help with the pre-event organisation its pretty easy going.

    I would happily pay £15 for events that I know would be well run or for charity ones but tend to stay away from the commercial ones.

    I don't know why more clubs don't promote sportives, you need less people helping on the day than a road race or time trial. There is less paperwork and less regulations than a race and also less hassle IMHO. Clubs based in the areas are also the people that know the local roads best and can select the best routes. A lot of clubs struggle for funds so it is a good way to generate them.
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,027
    +1
    My club does as well and also another local club.
    So they are out there.

    It is usually tho' such events are swamped in the promotional stakes by the big hitters, so they remain just known to those in the loop of things 'cycling' in their area.
    I like them as you can trust the standard of group riding and 'ahem' dare I say a sense of competitiveness..... 'ahem'
  • marykamaryka Posts: 746
    Maryka, I saw the face but it seemed a little at odds with what had been written before. I don't think I behave in the manner you describe when riding in a sportive (I'm cautious, I don't sit on wheels and I try to be friendly and polite). Your advice to join a club is good, it's on my to do list for the new season.
    Yeah sorry to pick on you, it's just that I've had my fill of being nearly taken out by sportivers whilst out riding the roads, and of people who think that because they catch me or my group or we overtake them, it's an open invitation to jump on our wheels.

    Sure it's fun to ride in a group, but tailgating isn't welcome, especially when the consequences of a crash can be quite severe. I no more want to ride with unpredictable strangers than I want to ride in the middle of a pack of cars! I think a lot of new cyclists don't understand this, and I think the sportive market sort of encourages this pack mentality a bit.

    Joining a club is the best way to learn to ride in a group safely and effectively. It may seem intimidating but I'd much rather chat to new rider on a club run about riding and skills than have to bark at unwelcome riders who make dodgy manoeuvres (overlapping my wheel from behind completely unannounced, riding up BETWEEN me and my partner trying to overtake, swarming me as a group while overtaking -- all of which have happened recently).
  • Peddle Up!Peddle Up! Posts: 2,040
    Not so much Sportives, as people with few manners then.
    Purveyor of "up" :)
  • I do organise a sportive and ride them two and I think in Honesty the comments about getting it right on the road are completely correct.

    I will say however our sportive costs in excess of £25,000 to run. The safety is a massive part of that but because most riders don't use the safety thank goodness they don't understand the work behind the scenes.

    Bad sportives should and will fade away as no one will go back. If my riders have a very experience we re fund if it is valid and we work on the customer is always right! We slipped up this year very slightly with a feed station and put our hands up, but we have acted on it and it has never happened before, we are all human.

    But please stop! judging a Sportive against an Audax, two completely different events. If you don't want to do Sportives don't do them, if you want to go for your own ride go and do it. With a Sportive and an Audax it is about the occasion, the only difference is the level of safety along with the feeds etc you get on a sportive.

    I have to say this is a great thread by the way because something needs to happen soon because new cyclists will do a bad one and never come back to the sport!
  • MIG Rider wrote:
    I do organise a sportive and ride them two and I think in Honesty the comments about getting it right on the road are completely correct.

    I will say however our sportive costs in excess of £25,000 to run. The safety is a massive part of that but because most riders don't use the safety thank goodness they don't understand the work behind the scenes.

    £25k to run - what size sportive is that? How many riders etc? What is the entry fee and what else do the riders get other than the standard HQ, feeds, signage, support etc?

    Just curious as to how it can cost as much as that.
  • i'm a bit sad after reading this thread I've only done the quebrantahuesos and only got encouragement from the more experienced riders lots of shouting and on occation being dragged along I was planning on doing a couple over hear but thinking probaly not will look at europe a little more tolerant I think like thier car drivers.
    Training for the Cycle to Spain and the Quebrantahuesos
    www.seeyouinspain.co.uk
  • £25k to run a sportive!!!---where was that figure plucked from?? I've run 16 Sportives( Polkadot & "Spud" Riley events) over the last 10yrs & from comments from those who rode they thought that they were good value. The first one in 2002 was £8 entry & the last one this year was £25. After the cost of putting them on all entry fees went to Christies Cancer Hospital & to date the total is £82,300!!
    All 16 had signed routes/2 feeds/good HQ/Insurance/ Free parking & 14 of them had a free bottle & free food & drink at the finish.
    This year the fee went up from £20 to £25 in order to pay for electronic timing & on line entry. The only donations I had to run them (apart from club members help & commitment) was free drinks powder from H5---The cost of running this years event was £1,945 so you can see why I'm amazed at the cost of £25K---Dave Riley
  • moray_gubmoray_gub Posts: 3,328
    maryka wrote:
    [
    Yeah sorry to pick on you, it's just that I've had my fill of being nearly taken out by sportivers whilst out riding the roads, and of people who think that because they catch me or my group or we overtake them, it's an open invitation to jump on our wheels.

    Sure it's fun to ride in a group, but tailgating isn't welcome, especially when the consequences of a crash can be quite severe. I no more want to ride with unpredictable strangers than I want to ride in the middle of a pack of cars! I think a lot of new cyclists don't understand this, and I think the sportive market sort of encourages this pack mentality a bit.

    Joining a club is the best way to learn to ride in a group safely and effectively. It may seem intimidating but I'd much rather chat to new rider on a club run about riding and skills than have to bark at unwelcome riders who make dodgy manoeuvres (overlapping my wheel from behind completely unannounced, riding up BETWEEN me and my partner trying to overtake, swarming me as a group while overtaking -- all of which have happened recently).

    I think you are being a bit of drama queen about all this done loads of sportives and audax over the years and never had any of the problems you seem to encounter. Maybe the problem is your riding ability rather than others no ?
    Gasping - but somehow still alive !
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,027
    Moray Gub wrote:
    maryka wrote:
    [
    Yeah sorry to pick on you, it's just that I've had my fill of being nearly taken out by sportivers whilst out riding the roads, and of people who think that because they catch me or my group or we overtake them, it's an open invitation to jump on our wheels.

    Sure it's fun to ride in a group, but tailgating isn't welcome, especially when the consequences of a crash can be quite severe. I no more want to ride with unpredictable strangers than I want to ride in the middle of a pack of cars! I think a lot of new cyclists don't understand this, and I think the sportive market sort of encourages this pack mentality a bit.

    Joining a club is the best way to learn to ride in a group safely and effectively. It may seem intimidating but I'd much rather chat to new rider on a club run about riding and skills than have to bark at unwelcome riders who make dodgy manoeuvres (overlapping my wheel from behind completely unannounced, riding up BETWEEN me and my partner trying to overtake, swarming me as a group while overtaking -- all of which have happened recently).

    I think you are being a bit of drama queen about all this done loads of sportives and audax over the years and never had any of the problems you seem to encounter. Maybe the problem is your riding ability rather than others no ?

    I'l sit back and enjoy this 1...
    no offence Murray Moray, but I'll take Maryka's riding ability over yours any day of the week if your riding is limited to solo riding in sportives and audaxes.
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