I just received a comment on another article in the blog from a guy taking offense to my use of the word ‘race’ when referring to Sportives. He implied I knew nothing about cycling by doing so (this is becoming a disturbing trend…it’s the 2nd such comment in as many months!).
So let’s settle this once and for all.
I know that I’m not really using the correct term when I say ‘race’. Wiki confirms this. I know that Sportives are ‘timed events’, but I also know that they can have podiums with prizes (sometimes cash), pelotons, breaks, strategy, teams, side-of-the-road water givers, and all sorts of suffering. We don’t get points for placing and Sportives are open to all, but hell, if Haute Route wasn’t a race, I’m wondering what one would feel like!
Here’s my thinking on the subject, then you can have your turn: Sportives, like any other athletic event where you are competing against another person, a time, or yourself, will be viewed by different people in different ways. Some come to these events to ‘just finish’ and probably don’t worry at all about times or whether they’ve been dropped by one group or another. There’ll be no bridging of gaps or hanging on of wheels for these riders. Then there are those who, when put into any situation that has even a whiff of competition, will have their brains tell them that the race is on. I am one of those people, for better or worse. I love to compete, mostly against myself, but also against other people.
Therefore (and apart from definitions), ‘race’ is perhaps a state of mind in these ‘events’.
But maybe I’m wrong. I am also wondering if my experience (only in France) is unique in any way. Set me straight, dear readers!