CX Sportives are something new and different for the winter, and traditional sportive riders are really starting to embrace them. Here we take a look at how they came about.

It’s CX Sportive time again. The Wildwood CX at Woodcote in the Chilterns is just a few weeks away on January 27th, followed by the huge Southern Sting CX on the South Downs, on March 10th. 500 riders attended the Woodcote event in 2012, and 2013 is set to be even bigger. That’s pretty impressive for an event format that didn’t even really exist until two years ago!

CX Sportive is an idea we sat on for several years. There were a couple of similar style events around, which had grown organically from smaller cyclocross events on the back of the MTB boom. Established and popular as they were, these existed in isolation and there was nothing really being done to offer a new direction to the rapidly growing cyclosportive community.

That was partly because, even just a few years ago, it was usual for cyclists to define themselves by the kind of cycling they did; on road, off road, downhill, uphill, everyone was a ‘specialist’. That has changed a lot. It still happens, but more and more, people are thinking of themselves as ‘cyclists’, and enjoying the huge variety that the sport offers. So, we decided the time was right to launch our first CX Sportive. From the start, the event was designed with a variety of different bikes and riders in mind. Announced in December 2010, and run the following month, it was an instant hit.

We do get asked from time to time why we don’t just keep running road sportives throughout the winter. Given the popularity of them, it would seem like the easy thing to do. The answer is that there are lots of reasons why we change direction when the clocks change. One of them is risk. Like any good event organiser, we risk assess our events diligently, and weather, road conditions and light levels all play a part in that process. Winter presents adverse conditions for road riding, simple as that. Another reason is for variety. It’s the spice of life as they say, and it keeps your riding fresh. It’s good to have seasons. For years, road racers have moved to cyclo-cross for the winter, even runners go cross country in the colder months.  We think the sportive scene needs a good seasonal alternative for the winter; and that alternative is CX Sportive. 

As we approach what is set be our biggest ever CX Sportive this January at Woodcote, it seems to us that the cycling world agrees. Even the trend for increasingly specialist bikes is being replaced by a movement towards superbly capable all-rounders. 2012 was, finally, the year that the 29er broke through. ‘Hybrid’ no longer means a cheap, supermarket lump that doesn’t do anything well. Modern hybrids boast top quality build and design, and are truly versatile. And there’s a new generation of CX bikes appearing; disc brake equipped, with great handling geometry. It’s an exciting time for cycling, and really exciting time for CX Sportives!