I haven’t ridden many Sportives in my time and I have mixed feelings about them from a personal perspective (entry fees and travelling costs, mainly), but I do recognise their value for others. The challenge, the chance to ride hillier/scenic terrain that may not be available in a rider’s local area, the opportunity to ride in groups for riders who don’t belong to a cycling club, the confidence to be had from knowing there is mechanical assistance, and timing chips for those setting out to challenge themselves. And, of course, the opportunity for a group of friends to “have a day out”. All damn good reasons if they appeal.
But for me, I ride in a club, have the Peak District on my doorstep and have cycling buddies to ‘stretch’ me every time I go out with them (2/3 times a week) so why would I spend money travelling to a Sportive Event?
Well, there is one exception, The Grindleford Goat. A sportive in the heart of the Peak District that raises money for the local community, the playgroup and Community Shop. And in ‘normal’ years the fee is only about £15.00 if I recall correctly.
I last rode the sportive in 2017 on a day with sunshine but also long periods of torrential rain. In fact, it was so bad the group I was riding with decided to cut the route short by heading straight back to Grindleford from the Monyash feed station. I would have gone with them apart from the fact that I discovered a puncture and told them not to wait.
But with Covid-19 this year the organisers are taking a radically new approach. IT WILL BE FREE! In the not too distant future, downloadable .gpx files will be posted on Rider HQ. You’ll need to register to be able to login and download and there will be a choice of the 108km “Billy” route or the shorter (56km) but in some places steeper “Nanny” route.
And if, on the way round, you call in at the Grindleford Community shop they will supply you with a free takeaway cup of coffee and you can pick up a unique Grindleford Goat goody ‘musette’. How cool is that?
The organisers are going to create a gallery of Goat riders this year to add to their archives, so participants are invited to take a selfie outside the shop with their coffee and goodybag and send it to the website #grindlefordgoat.
Donations to the Community Shop will be gratefully received and the organisers will be setting up a Just Giving page, but there is no obligation. I intend to ride the “Billy” route in September and if you do too why not give me a shout on Twitter @cyclinglifeuk