Looking to take your cycling hobby to the next level, but not sure where to go? You should try competing in a cycling sportive.
A cycling sportive is a long-distance biking event that’s the equivalent of running a marathon, although the overall distance varies. Events are typically 50 to 150 miles long, or 80 to 240 kilometers.
There are dozens of sportives that take place across the United States each year, which can make it difficult to decide which one to attend. On this page, I’ll share the 8 most popular road cycling sportives held in the United States.
Gran Fondo Hincapie Greenville
- Location : Greenville, South Carolina
- Distance : 15, 50, 80 miles
- Dates : 3 Oct. 2021
- Website : Grand Fondo Hincapie
Cruise through the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains on the same routes that pro cycler George Hincapie used to train for the Tour de France.
The Gran Fondo Hincapie Greenville is one of the best sportives in the nation. Not just for the scenery, but for the incredible challenge of climbing to elevations that eclipse 8,000 feet.
Levi’s Gran Fondo
- Location : Windsor, California
- Distance : 8, 32, 52, 69, 81, 100, 126, 138.5 miles
- Dates : Spring 2022 (postponed in 2021 due to COVID)
- Website : Levi’s Grand Fondo
As one of the premier races in the country, the Levi’s Gran Fondo, located in sunny California, features a bevy of races to pick from, including an 8-mile ride geared toward families.
The Growler is one of the most intense, difficult races in the country. The 138.5-mile race climbs through the mountains to an elevation of 13,549 feet, easily rivaling some of the hardest courses in the world.
Don’t worry, you’ll be rewarded for your hard work. Windsor is within easy driving distance of 50 world-class wineries to take in as part of your recovery.
- Location : Le Mars, Iowa
- Distance : 454.1 miles over seven days
- Dates : 25 to 31 July 2021
- Website : RAGBRAI
Cycle through the Heartland of America. Ragbrai, which stands for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is a seven-day adventure across the great state of Iowa.
Organizers of Ragbrai are quick to say this is a ride and not a race, making it the perfect first sportive for a newbie cyclist who wants to start honing their craft. In other words, this event is all about fun and enjoying the scenery, which is so much more than just cornfields (although you’ll see plenty!).
The event starts in Le Mars, Iowa, and ends in Clinton, just east of Cedar Falls.
Gran Fondo New York
- Location : New York, New York
- Distance : 100 miles
- Dates : 15 May 2022
- Website : GFNY
The Big Apple is known for its incredible marathon, but also one heckuva bike race. The Gran Fondo World Championship New York City brings the top cyclists together from around the world for a grueling 100-mile racecourse through the city that doesn’t sleep and beyond.
The course takes riders through the historic Palisades and up Route 9W before you head north to New Jersey and the tree-lined roads in New York State. There is also a climb through Bear Mountain. The two-day event finishes in Fort Lee.
The riders appreciate the challenging course, but they love the after-party, which features great food, live music, and drinks.
Cache Gran Fondo
- Location : Cache Valley, Utah
- Distance : 35, 50, 76, and 100 miles
- Dates : 9 to 10 July 2021
- Website : Cache Gran Fondo
The Cache Gran Fondo is a non-timed, fun race that coincides with the professional UCI Gran Fondo Championship qualifier.
Pick between four distances as your tackle the mountains of Utah. The Media Fondo, a 76-mile race, is the most popular event. The course, from North Logan to Green Canyon is packed with rolling hills, making it a fun, and slightly challenging road bike sportive.
Prepare for 1,700 feet of elevation gain spread out over the entire course, so nothing too crazy.
Garden State Fondo
- Location : Morristown, New Jersey
- Distance : 18, 42, 60, 73, 105, 125 miles
- Dates : 21 Sept. 2021
- Website : Garden State Fondo
Located 45 miles from New York City, the Garden State Fondo is one of the best in the world. Because of its popularity, the event has grown to include six different events ranging from a beginner 18-mile race to the big daddy of them all, The Estremo, which includes six total climbs to a height of 9,500 feet.
Those who go for the double century need to be experienced and maintain a minimum speed of at least 16mph throughout the entire race.
Most cyclists will go with the Media or the Migrane. The Migrane is a 73-mile course that includes a lovely ride along the Raritan River, followed by a climb up the Buffalo Hollow where you can take in some beautiful scenery.
Gran Fondo Salt Lake
- Location : Salt Lake City, Utah
- Distance : 30, 62, 105 miles
- Dates : 28 August 2021
- Website : Gran Fondo Salt Lake
For skilled cyclists looking for a challenge, the Century Ride at the Gran Fondo Salt Lake is the ultimate tune-up race for bigger events later in the year.
The event is affordable but relatively basic. Cyclists appreciate the scenic roads but have said it lacks mechanical support. Make sure you pack a repair kit with you.
There are feed stations every 15 miles.
Iron Horse Bicycle Classic
- Location : Durango, Colorado
- Distance (Road) : 25, 47, 50 miles
- Distance (Gravel) : 55, 93 miles
- Dates : 30 May 2021
- Website : Iron Horse Bicycle Classic
The Iron Horse has a great backstory. Brother Tom and Jim Bayer decided to race each other. One was a train engineer, the other an avid cyclist. The challenge? Who can win from Durango to Silverton, roughly a 40-mile distance. Tom, the cyclist, was victorious and the cycling community took notice.
Since 1972 when 36 riders tackled the same route, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic has been extremely popular. Today, it has been expanded to include a number of distances on the road, in addition to a gravel racing event.
More than 3,800 people participated in 2018.