A sportive is a non-competitive long distance cycling event of up to around 100 miles - often with shorter alternative courses running alongside the main one for those who don't feel up to cycling the full distance. You'll often be given the opportunity to use an electronic timing chip so you can see how long it takes you to complete your chosen course, but a cyclo-sportive ride is not a race. You will be expected to register and pay for your place in the event beforehand and on the day can usually expect free parking at the event HQ; a well sign-posted route; marshals and mechanical support; feed stations en-route; a goodie bag at the end; and finally somewhere to rest and recover before heading home. Sportives take place all over the country on all terrains and they're a great way to enjoy unfamiliar scenery and to challenge yourself. You'll have a great time in the company of other people who are equally as mad as you are for cycling all that way for no good reason, and you shouldn't need to look at a map at every junction. Photographers will wait to ambush you at the top of the biggest hills so that you are snapped looking your coolest and calmest, and you'll find yourself looking your "best" at an online gallery within a few days of the event. Don't forget - it's not a race - so relax and enjoy the ride!