Here at VeloVixen we do love a sportive. Following a marked route through parts of the country we’ve never visited before, enjoying food stations along the way, all while sharing the experience with like-minded people. Seriously, what is there not to love?
It’s our job to motivate and spur you on to try new things on two wheels, so take a look at some surprising reasons we think you should sign up to a sportive this year.
Before we start, for those of you who are new to the term, a sportive is NOT a race. It is a mass participation cycling event, often with different length routes. Although you are timed, to re-iterate it most definitely is NOT a race.
Sportives offer sign-posted routes, with manned feeding stations along the way. They often offer technical support, and the time you take to cycle the distance will be recorded.
Details aside, here are our top 11 reasons to saddle up for a sportive.
1. Meet new people
The older we get, the harder it is to meet new friends. The shared suffering on a sportive means instant bonds are formed and you’re blessed with being able to avoid that awkward small talk.
In 2014, I managed to ride the entirety of RideLondon with a paramedic I met on the start line. Commenting after my sixth pee-stop along the route, she said “I’d be incredibly surprised if you’re not pregnant.” Low and behold, I got home, took a test and it turned out I was 4 weeks pregnant. Needless to say, I shared the news with her and we’ve been friends ever since.
To help your training you could also join a local spin class or cycle club. This is a sure fire way to meet interesting, driven and like-minded new friends.
2. Offer a sense of accomplishment and improve self-confidence
Conquering a sportive is no mean feat, and it is physically impossible to cross the finish line without feeling immensely proud.
There’s also a huge sense of satisfaction and accomplishment knowing you have smashed the challenge. This in turn builds your confidence and makes you feel you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
3. Your fitness will soar
Once you’ve entered a sportive, you’ll start to do a little training and it won’t be long before you start seeing changes in your body. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will see your fitness improve.
4. You’ll explore new places
Sportives are a really fun, easy way to explore different parts of the countryside you've never been to before.
With marked routes, there’s little chance of getting lost so it’s a wonderful way to see more sites and get new routes to do at a later date.
5. Strengthen existing friendships
Signing up to your first sportive can be daunting. If you can cajole a friend into joining you, it’ll make the experience exponentially more enjoyable. Plus, it’ll give you time to bond with your friend in a healthy environment, meaning more time for cake later.
6. You can use it as a lovely excuse to raise money for a charity
Lots of sportives offer charity places, or the whole event is based around raising money. Even if there isn’t a charity link, you can do it yourself.
Ask your friends, family members and work mates to sponsor you. Imagine the sense of satisfaction you would get from completing a personal challenge, raising vital money and awareness for a cause close to your heart.
7. Mental clarity
There’s nothing better than getting out on your bike with a group of like-minded people, on a marked route. You’ve got nothing to think about other than turning those pedals. It’s mentally liberating.
You’ll finish the ride physically shattered, but mentally revived. Cycling overall will help you clear your mind and sharpen your focus.
8. Help you sleep
You should start to find the quality of your sleep improving the more time you spend in the saddle. Not only will the physical exertion help knock you out for longer, the stress busting properties of cycling will help you drift off to sleep easier.
9. You'll have more energy
Admittedly, you may not feel too energetic as you start your training. But, as your body adjusts, you will start to feel less fatigued and your energy levels will soar.
10. You’ll be less stressed and moody
Any form of exercise can help improve your mood and lift your spirits. Cycling helps trigger the release of endorphins which act as our body’s own antidepressants.
It goes without saying that the more riding you do to train for a sportive, the happier and more stable you will become.
I’ve yet to go out for a ride and not come back happier and in a better frame of mind than when I went out. Even after a puncture or two.
11. Eat more cake
The ability to eat guilt free cake thanks to cycling off all those calories is enough to make anyone a happier person.
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