Cyclosportives, also known as Gran Fondos, involve thousands of cyclists following a route set out to challenge them. The most famous Gran Fondos are La Marmotte and the Etappe du Tour. In the Low Countries, the Ronde van Vlaanderen Cyclo in Belgium and the Amstel Gold Voor Wielertouristen both attract thousands of entrants from all over the world. But anyone who has been on these mass rides knows there are certain types of riders who at best will raise eyebrows and at worst, draw blood from under you fingernails. Here are five kinds we regularly come across:

Suicide pilot

This rider truly thinks he’s in a road race and not riding a cycle tour. He rides down hills like a complete freakin’ psycho. He has no respect for his fellow road users. Strangely, he also has no respect for his own safety. He thinks he’s Vincenzo Nibali but he (it’s always a ‘he’) is more like Ronald McDonald. His mad downhill speed is mainly to compensate for the fact that he can’t climb. You will pass him in the first 200m of the next hill. Or he’ll zoom past you and, later in the ride, you’ll hear an ambulance siren in the distance, coming to get him.

Downhill rider cyclosportive

What goes down, can’t go up. Credit: Getty Images


Again, another class of rider who thinks a cyclosportive, or Gran Fondo, is actually a professional race. He or she will always throw their litter (gel wrappers, energy bar wrappers and banana skins) all over the road. This is (unfortunately) what the professionals do on television all the time, so these sorry souls feel the need to be equally anti-social. One strange thing about the litterbug on a cyclosportive, compared with the professional racers, is that they don’t throw their bidons all over the place. Another thing is also clear: it’s very antisocial and must stop.

litterbugs at cyclosportives

Credit: Getty Images

The guy with the €10,000 bike

Often seen in the Low Countries during the big events, such as the Ronde van Vlaanderen, this rider has a bike which we all know costs around €10,000. He also has several kilos more around his middle than a fit person does. Squeezed into his lycra like a sausage, he stands tall and proud next to his machine. We’re, of course, jealous of his bike. But not of his physique. This is the guy who gives cycling clothing a bad name. But the interesting thing is that he really doesn’t seem to get the bizarre spectacle he’s showing to the rest of the world. Always weird. Always there on a Gran Fondo.

His bike cost €10.000. Now the work. Credit: Getty Images

Very public pee-er

This guy (again, always a guy) seems to take pride in peeing in the most public place possible. Most of us wait to go into the woods, or otherwise off the beaten track. But this guy thinks it’s fine to pee in someone’s garden, in a public bus stop or in the town square. No wonder the public sometimes think hobby cyclists are a bunch of exhibitionist weirdos. Seeing this guy in action makes us a little ashamed to think that we have the same hobby as he does.

No shame. Credit: Getty Images

The freeloader

This rider never pays the entry fee to the cyclosportive. He’s literally along for the ride. He won’t have a number pinned to his back. Often he refuses to wear a helmet. He thinks he is a rebel but really he’s just a parasite. He often has the biggest grin in the peleton. But often he doesn’t make it until the end, as he hasn’t put in the training hours to be able to ride well. There’s justice after all.

cyclosportives grand fondo

He didn’t pay. Not cool. Credit: Getty Images.

(Recognise any of these types? You may also be familiar with these riders: Five most irritating types of cycling friends)