If you're looking for a road challenge this year, then take a look at these women's-only sportive rides to get you going.
Sportives are enjoyed by thousands of hobby cyclists every year. Their purpose is to get you in the saddle, socialising with other riders and to challenge your skills.
These events are non-competitive in nature, although there will always be those few keen riders after the victory of crossing the finish line in the first wave. Just like a regular race, you're given a number board and your times are recorded, however it's more about pushing yourself and your cycling abilities.
Some sportives follow famous race routes all over the world, allowing you to cycle in the tyre-paths of legendary riders whilst exploring new landscapes and unfamiliar terrains.
Sportive events can be road, or off-road. Though most are on road, it's worth checking to be sure you're so when choosing the right ride for your bike! Usually there are a number of distances you can choose to ride, so choose a realistic route which is challenging, but fun.
These events are perfect for entry level riders of all ages and ability. They're a great introduction to timed riding in a non-competitive environment. Though many women enjoy riding mixed sex sportives, some prefer to pedal it out amongst others of the same gender - let's face it, we do make the best riding buddies and our post-ride coffee and cake chat is way more entertaining!
We've rounded up some of the UK's women's-only sportives for 2016 - take a look and start booking up!
When: Sunday May 8th 2016
Where: Torbay Velopark
Price: £30 pp entry
Distance: 42km Devonian Route
The GeoPark Sportive is a British Cycling registered event, and it's back for the 3rd year running.
The 42km women's only circular route is ideal for novices and experts alike. With a total ascent of 800m, the route takes you from the Velopark through Marldon, Ipplepen, Berry Pomeroy and Galmpton before returning to the start.
Kent Velo Girls Sportive
When: Sunday April 17th 2016
Where: Hilden Park in Hildenborough
Price: From £20 pp
Distances: 20, 40 and 60 miles
After continuing success in previous years, the Kent Velo Girls sportive is back for it's 6th year.
With 3 distances to choose from: 20 mile, 40 mile and 60 mile, there are feed stations and Marshall points along the way.
KVG will be supporting Hospice in the Weald, a care facility that helps patients with terminal illnesses. You can help raise funds with the KVG by donating directly, or raising your own donations
2 Wheels and a Piece of Cake - Belles of Belvoir
When: Sunday 5 June 2016
Where: Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire
Routes: 24 miles, 50 miles, 70 miles
Price: £27, £32 and £37 online. On the day - £32, £37 and £42
2 Wheels and a Piece of Cake offer friendly cycling events geared for all level of riders.
Homemade cakes, plenty of tea, bunting and good cheer, with sign-posted routes and full mechanical support on all routes. All you have to do is turn up and ride!
We were lucky enough to interview the two women behind these events - Britta and Emma - recently. They formed the company after they noticed many cycling events were quite male dominated and didn't feel too female friendly. Read more here.
White Rose Classic Sporitve
When: Sunday June 26
Where: Ilkley Rugby Club
Distances: 50 miles, 84 miles, 114 miles
This sell-out, 1000 rider event isn't a women's ONLY event, we'll admit. However, they are offering women only waves this year, so that those that want to ride in a female friendly environment can set off together. Not only that, the women's groups will be followed by mechanical support. Those experienced in all things bike-fixing might find this patronising, but no doubt others will see this as a ride-saver and we'd be happy to admit 100 miles into a 114 mile route, we wouldn't mind having a team mechanic style experience!
All three routes offer plenty of climbing - the 50 mile route covers 4,200 feet of climbing, the 84 mile route covers 6,800 feet and the 114 mile option close to 10,000 feet. It'll be tough, but so worth it for the sense of achievement!
Daisy Chain Sportive
When: Sunday July 10th 2016
Where: Llandrindod Wells
Price: £5 early bird (February only) or £25
Distances: 24, 40, 60 and 70 miles
Daisy Chain Events have been running for a number of years, catering in both road and MTB sportives and guided rides.
Their big sportive event this year is in Llandrindod Wells with 4 distances to choose from:
- 24 miles / 2100ft climb = Entry level riders
- 40 miles/ 4400ft climb = Intermediate riders
- 60 miles / 7100ft climb = Advanced riders
- 70 miles / 7900ft climb = Expert riders
Ride the Night
When: Saturday May 28th 2016
Ride The Night is back for 2016 to raise money and awareness for 3 cancer charities: Breast Cancer Care, Ovarian Cancer Action and Jo's Cervical Cancer.
Following a 100k route into London and back, this ride will be full of fun and comradery for all the ladies involved.
Davina's Big Sussex Bike Ride
When: Sunday June 12th 2016
Where: East Sussex National Golf Club
Price: £38 pp
Distances: 21, 40 and 68 miles
TV icon Davina McCall leads the big Sussex ride this year for Action Medical Research.
The charity ride is to help raise funds for pioneering research in the medical field.
Divas on Wheels
When: Sunday 12 June
Where: Graveney, nr Faversham
Price: £25 for an early bird registration. £30 on the day.
Distances: 25 or 50 miles
This ride organised by the Pilgrims hospice takes riders through quiet country lanes, and is supported by 'Bike Heroes' who will help out with any bike mechanics, and provide any motivation needed. There will be refreshment stops, plus 'post ride pampering', cakes, bbq and some retail therapy!
Ladies of the Lake Sportive
When: Sunday September 11
Where: Ulverston, Lake District
Price: £30 or £32
Distances: 50km or 73km
The Ladies of the Lakes ride is now in its third year, and the organisers have made the long route harder and the short route easier, in response to feedback. The 73km / 45 mile route covers just over 1254 metres / 4,000 feet of climbing, whilst the 50km / 31 mile route will take riders over 827 metres / 2713 feet.
Both skirt around the beautiful lakes, and organisers promise you can ride any bike you like, wear any kit you like, and that the food will be fantastic!
Probably the most famous women's only sportives are the Macmillan Cycletta events, promoted by Human Race. Routes vary from 20km, to 150km, and are spread out across the country.
We're still waiting for the 2016 dates, but you can browse details for 2015 events here - the dates and locations are likely to be similar, though we can't confirm until Cycletta unveil their new year plans.
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