Event information

Why Ride the Poppyscotland Sportive?

The Poppyscotland Sportive has three fantastic routes. There’s something for everyone! Starting in Prestonpans, you can decide which challenge to take.

Beautiful East Lothian appeals to families, cycling groups, friends and individuals alike – with plenty of beautiful terrain and a few challenging hills, the peaceful rolling countryside and quiet roads allow for glorious vistas of the surrounding scenery.

Riders can take on the Poppyscotland Sportive challenge for many reasons: to achieve their own personal goals, raise money and support the Armed Forces community in need or to be part of the third best Sportive in Scotland (as ranked by Sportive.com in 2017), which is famous for its friendly and welcoming volunteers and participants.

Fundraising is not mandatory but it is very welcome and if you raise more than £100 in sponsorship, we’ll give you a Poppyscotland Sportive cycling jersey for free!

Join Team Poppy and help provide life-changing support to our Armed Forces community #teampoppy

“Great cause. I am really pleased that 100% of entry fee goes to Poppyscotland and that is why I keep coming back each year”

Thanks to our partners, Fred. Olsen Renewables, every penny of registration and fundraising comes to us!

Price: £35 (no price increase in 7 years)

Entry Includes:

· Choice of three routes
· Electronic timing
· Mechanical support
· Food and water stations
· Coffee available before you start
· Tea and toast at the finish
· King and Queen of The Heugh timed climb
· Sweeper service
· Finishers gift

We’ve listened to your feedback and some of you really wanted a medal, so this year we are giving you the option of purchasing one at the same time you register.

100% of your registration fee goes to Poppyscotland to help us support members of the Armed Forces community and their families

“This was brilliant! My first event and felt part of the community of Poppyscotland as well as the cyclists, which kept me going to a good result”

If you’re a Poppyscotland Sportive first timer and want to see what you’ve signed up for, check out our video highlights here.

Sunday 27th September 2020

Start times:

· Long Route      – Between 07:30hrs and 08:00hrs
· Middle Route – Between 08:00hrs and 09:00hrs
· Short Route    – Between 08:00hrs and 09:00hrs

PLEASE NOTE – all riders must start by 09.00am – we can’t let any riders start after this time.

Time to complete the course:

Our sweep convoy will follow cyclists along all 3 routes route at a fixed speed of 10 mph for the short and medium and 13 mph for the long

· Short route       : 5 hours to complete finished 14:00 at latest
· Medium route : 7.5 hours to complete finished 16:30 at latest
· Long route       : 8.5 hours to complete finished 17:30 at latest

This includes 30 mins built in for stops.

Once the last wave of cyclists has left the start, our sweep convoy will follow cyclists along all 3 routes route at a fixed speed of 10 mph for the short and medium and 13 mph for the long.

Cyclists who fail to maintain this minimum average speed and are therefore overtaken by the sweep car are out of the ride. In this instance, cyclists will be asked to submit their timing chip to the sweep staff before continuing. This acts as an acknowledgement that they are no longer part of the event, and that the event infrastructure such as medical support and feed stations will no longer be available to them.

SAME ROUTES AS 2019. Three different routes provide a real challenge for riders of all abilities. Routes are available in downloadable GPX format or Garmin Connect.
For more information on the routes, please click here.

Changing routes last minute: if you feel like changing your route on the day, that is no problem, just ask at registration

COMMUNICATION BLACK SPOTS: There are areas south of Garvald and into the Lammermuir hills and Scottish Borders where radio and mobile phone cover is poor. Riders should be aware of this and are advised to carry a fully charged mobile phone. We will have regular motorcycle marshals patrolling these areas.

In particular please be aware of the following:

  • Hard right turn onto B6355 – slow down and take care! (Middle)
  • Redstone Rigg descent: slow down (Middle and Long)
  • Fast descent into Gifford & in town: slow down (Long and middle routes only)
  • Cousland road surface, take care! (All routes)


15 miles in, all three routes tackle ‘The Heugh’ climb. Just past North Berwick there’s a short, sharp climb. You will gain just under 100ft in 0.2 of a mile. Your time for the climb will be automatically recorded and we will award a prize for the King or Queen of The Heugh.

Will you have the energy to go for it?

You will be able to register, pick up your rider number and timings chip at the following times:

· Saturday    26/09/20 – from 14.00hrs until 18:00hrs
· Sunday       27/09/20 – from 07:00hrs until 08:30hrs

At registration you will be given:

  • Your bike number with your timing chip attached to the back
  • Cable ties to attach it to your bike
  • Your cycling jersey if you have raised £100+ in sponsorship or purchased one but not received it

Your timing chip is attached to the back of your bike number.  All you need to do is fix your bike number to the front of your bike.  Doing this will give you an accurate reading for completing the full Poppyscotland Sportive course distance that you have selected.

Toilets:  There are toilet facilities at the start/ finish venue, as well as at all feed stations

Medical form:
All participants must complete a medical form and hand it in at registration.

You can download one here.

To save time, please bring the completed form with you when you register or forms will be available on the day.


Registration is situated at Prestonpans Community Centre which is also where our event starts.

Prestonpans Community Centre
Preston Road
EH32 9QS

Parking is available in:

· Preston Lodge High School – 1 min cycle to start of race
· Wallyford park and ride – 11 min cycle to start
· Existing on street parking in Prestonpans

*Please note, Prestonpans Community Centre and Prestonpans Group practice medical centre car parks will be closed on event day.

Feeding Stations:

Each of our stunning routes has 2 feeding stations (long route has 3). Water is also provided at these stops for refilling and refuelling.

There are toilet facilities at all feed stations.

Feed stations are at:
Feed Station 1 – all routes – East Linton
Feed Station 2 – long route only – Duns
Feed Station 3 – all routes – Gifford

Poppyscotland Sportive sponsors Bramik Foods, who provide the food at all three feeding stations, are offering a 20% discount for Sportive riders – just use the promo code SPORTIVE2020 when ordering online. 

Tea and Toast:

The community centre cafe will be open before and after the event for light refreshments – tea, coffee and toast – for a donation of course!

Starbucks Coffee:

We are very grateful to Starbucks Fort Kinnaird who will come and provide coffee to all our riders before the event – for a donation! Starbucks have been supporting the Poppy Sportive for many years, serving coffee from 7am to wake up our riders!

Bike repairs and mechanical support:

Please make sure your bike is serviced and road ready before the big day itself!

Any last minute bike repairs will be ably attended to by our friends at Leith Cycle Co, who will be at Prestonpans Community centre from 7am. These angels on wheels also provide our mechanical service, available at each feed station.


Any registered Sportive participant can get 10% off a bike service at Leith Cycle Co on Leith Walk, Edinburgh – just show your ‘confirmation of registration’ email in the shop for your discount.

Road Safety and First Aid:

We’ve done everything we can to make this event as safe as possible.  Riders take part at their own risk and must stick to the rules of the road at all times.

Medical info: it is critical that you put your rider number on your bike and keep it there.  This is to ensure that we access the correct medical information for you to assist first aiders in any treatment that you might require. PLEASE DO NOT SWAP RIDER NUMBERS.

  • Helmets: you won’t be allowed to take part unless you wear a helmet
  • Mobiles: please make sure your mobile is fully charged the night before the event.  There is a small section of our course with no mobile signal but we have a strategy to respond to issues there
  • Reflective clothing: Our event takes place in daylight but please do ensure that you have some form of reflective clothing as it’s also vital to be seen in poor light

This is an OPEN ROAD event: Please take note of the highway code for cyclists:

  • Don’t ride more than 2 a-breast
  • You are not permitted to cycle on the pavement
  • You may not cross the stop line when traffic lights are red
  • Be considerate to other road users… be aware of traffic coming up behind you.  For this reason never cycle with headphones in

Riding in groups: Our hope is that we start early enough to  avoid the worst of the traffic,  however it’s really important that you are comfortable sharing the road with other road users.

  • Please note you should always cycle in single file on narrow roads and when cycling round bends.   Ensure you leave space between you and the cyclist in front to allow overtaking in these areas.
  • Please take note where you see a sign stating ‘slow down’ or notifying of a hazard. 
  • Not all the roads you cycle on today are in perfect condition. 
  • Watch out for potholes, rutted patches, gravel and tree debris on the roads and make sure you safely negotiate them.

There will be a number of medics available on the day for minor injuries.

One will be stationed at East Linton feed station
One will be stationed at Gifford feed station
One will be based at Prestonpans community centre

If you have an accident or witness anything serious happening, please immediately dial 999. Our medics are for minor injuries only. In the case of an emergency, the usual rules apply and riders must contact emergency services.

This is a Sportive, by definition a non-competitive long distance cycling event. Timings are only for each individuals own personal information.

Timings: Our timings service will text your time straight to your phone.  Please include your mobile number in your sign up info online so that you receive this text. Times will also be posted on our website after the event.

We also have a full breakdown of each rider’s time, including the timed hill climb, via the links below.

Congratulations to the winners of the timed climb! Our King and Queen of the Heugh for 2019 were:

Calum Deans: 38 seconds

Nadine Reilly: 59 seconds

Sportive 2019 Full Results

Sportive 2018 Full Results

Sportive 2018 Timed Climb Results

Sportive 2017 Results

Sportive 2016 Results

Sportive 2015 Results – Long Route

Sportive 2015 Results – Short Route

For individuals event photography visit the SportSunday website

Poppyscotland Sportive FAQ’s

For those of you who are new to cycling, who may be tackling your first or second Sportive – or those haven’t done one for a long time – here are some commonly asked questions that we receive to assist you.

Some tricks that make riding a bit easier, whatever your level, as well as ideas and suggestions to make sure you are well prepared on the day.

Some of these FAQs are taken from this general sportive advice in Cycling Weekly and some from experience gained from previous years events.

If all the places are sold out, is there a waiting list?
Yes, we will operate a waiting list, just drop us a line with your details

Is there a minimum age requirement to enter the event?
No riders under 16 years old on the day of the event permitted

When should I be eating?
Keeping fuelled and hydrated when riding any distance is vital. Eating a little bit, possibly half a bar or a small piece of flapjack every half hour is a good rule of thumb to follow. This takes into account Sportives of any distance as well as your fitness and means you stay fuelled for however long it takes to get round.

Should I bring my own food with me?
*Please do not depend on the food from the feeding stations alone*

Sportive participants need to bring their primary source of fuel with them – enough food to keep you going for the day.

We provide healthy snacks and water at the feed stations, e.g. banana, flapjack, crisps, dried fruit and nuts. High energy quality food to help get round the course.

We do not provide meals or large amounts of food and we advise you bring all the food you think you will need.

What is blowing up and how can I avoid it?
Blowing up is when your body runs out of energy during a bike ride – a bit like hitting the wall during a marathon – you feel absolutely terrible, as if you simply cannot go on.

Blowing up during a sportive is usually due to two main reasons: not fuelling properly or poor pacing strategy. Basically you need to ensure you ride within yourself enough to make it through the entire event, as going too hard too early or going too far into the red over a big climb can cause you to blow up.

Again – you need to be eating carbohydrate regularly for energy, and eating a little bit, possibly half a bar or a small piece of flapjack every half hour is a good rule of thumb to follow.

If you regularly forget to eat in rides or don’t eat enough, set an alarm on your watch for every 20 or 30 minutes and aim to eat something each time and drain your 500ml bottle every hour. This can also help to break down the ride into different sections to help keep your focus and help with your pacing.

Which Poppy Sportive route should I choose?
The Poppyscotland Sportive takes place in East Lothian and the Scottish Borders and the routes all involve hills! The medium and long route are especially challenging with longer distances that involve long climbs up into the Lammermuirs and over the infamous ‘Rigg’.

The elevation gain and loss statistics, also in graph form, for all 3 routes can be found here

We advise all participants familiarise themselves with the route they have chosen and are prepared for the climbs they will encounter.

Am I fit enough?
We strongly recommend that first time riders do some training runs of equal distance that include climbing so they are prepared on the event day itself.

You are likely to be fit enough to get round but you may have to moderate your expectations. There’s no point expecting a super-fast time on a 100-mile hilly route if you’ve only ever done 50-mile events before – but you may well be able to finish.

Be realistic; with the correct nutrition and pacing you should be able to get round most distances, but it’ll be hard and will take a lot longer. If you have ridden two thirds of your goal distance in training and a speed close to your target you should be fine on the day. It will be tough but the atmosphere and the presence of other riders to help with the work will keep you going – as long as you stick with your pacing and nutrition.

What kit do I need?
We recommend you bring:

  • Spare inner tubes, tyre levers and puncture repair kit
  • Pump
  • Multi tool
  • Two full water bottles and some snacks
  • Fully charged mobile
  • Warm and waterproof layers
  • Vaseline
  • A little bit of money

Please check the weather forecast the night before and prepare accordingly! We will be sending weather updates out to all riders before the event so you should have an idea of what to expect.

General advice from cycling weekly:

  • Taking a shell jacket or gilet is advisable as having to stop for mechanicals or descending can chill you very rapidly.
  • On hot days, shorts and jersey with a thin undervest is plenty, adapting this with a thicker base-layer, gilet, arm and knee warmers is enough for cooler days and gives options for removing garments when it heats up. During much colder rides layers are needed, as well as thermal long tights and windproof thermal jackets
  • The key is layers, keep an eye on the weather forecast in advance but take a judgement call on the morning and remember that if you need to take the layers off they’ll either need to fit in a pocket or risk being abandoned
  • Newspaper down the front of your jersey or a plastic bag is perfect for early starts where the temperature will definitely rise as once you start to heat up they can be responsibly discarded

What is the best size of group to ride in?
If you are not used to riding in a larger group, e.g. 4 or more riders, then don’t make this event the first time you try this out.

Take time to practice and get used to riding with others before you do this at a cycling event.

If you are not sure, then riding solo or with maybe one or two others is advisable, and equally enjoyable.

See this British cycling video on ‘how to Ride in a group’

What do the signs people in front of me keep doing actually mean?

A downward point warns of a pothole or something that you will want to avoid.

When a rider in front sweeps their left arm across their back, from left to right, it means you need to move out to go round a park vehicle or obstacle, if it’s done with the other arm, right to left, it’s to keep in to the left as there’s something coming.

Repeated patting of the air, by their bottom, indicates slowing down.

If riding in a group listen for shouts of potential hazards ahead from other riders.

See this British cycling video on ‘how to communicate with signals in a bunch’

When should I change gear while climbing?
When climbing, changing gear under pressure puts more strain on the chain – ease the pressure off as you shift to prevent it jumping. Anticipate the need to change gear by looking ahead and change into a lower gear before it becomes too steep, so the chain is not under too much pressure.

However, don’t change gear too early as you will end up spinning and prevent you from putting any power down.

Do I need to bring a map?
All three Sportive routes are fully signposted, but we strongly advise all participants bring or download their own route map.

You should take time to study the route you have chosen to ride before the event. All three routes are available to download and view here.

What do the signs look like?
They look like this – bright yellow, with poppies in the corners.

 How do I avoid saddle sores or chafing?
Different types of pain in the nether regions mean different things. Chaffing is often down to shorts choice, so ensure yours fit properly. A bruising feeling is a hint that you may be riding the wrong saddle, and sores are often down to personal hygiene so ensure you wash yourself and kit after every ride. Chamois cream can help alleviate chafing if you’re still having major problems after checking these things.

How can I corner better?
Improving your cornering confidence is an easy way to get improve without having to boost your fitness. The key to cornering is taking the correct line: wide then sweeping in to hit the apex and then exiting wide again.

However, do remember – the Sportive is open road so don’t take silly risks to hit the right line. Keep the inside pedal up, put your weight through your outside leg to keep grip, and do your breaking before the corner not during it.

How do I pace myself?
Using feedback from heart rate or power is a good method of judging pace, knowing how different zones ‘feel’ is important. This is something that you need to learn and practice on your training rides.

There’s no harm in occasionally misjudging it or even deliberately pushing yourself harder than comfortable to see how long you can last – do it in training and there is nothing lost but you’ve gained knowledge on how to pace yourself.

You don’t necessarily need loads of high-tech tools, just monitoring your breathing and effort level is enough. If you’re aiming for a time, your riding pace needs to feel hard but manageable, breathing should be deep but if you can’t talk in complete sentences you are going too hard. You may be able to sprinkle a few harder efforts in to make it up the hills but ensure you don’t go into the red zone where your legs start to burn and your breath becomes gasping.

If you just want to ‘get round’ obviously you can take it at a much more leisurely pace but remember the payoff is you’ll be out longer which brings its own problems with fuelling and fatigue. Even at a ‘get you round pace’ you should still be aware that you are breathing at a deeper than normal rate.

How long do I have to complete the course?
Our sweep convoy will follow cyclists along all 3 routes route at a fixed speed of 10 mph for the short and medium and 13 mph for the long

  • Short route: 5 hours to complete finished 14:00 at latest
  • Medium route: 7.5 hours to complete finished 16:30 at latest
  • Long route: 8.5 hours to complete finished 17:30 at latest

This includes 30 mins built in for stops.

Once the last wave of cyclists has left the start, our sweep convoy will follow cyclists along all 3 routes route at a fixed speed of 10 mph for the short and medium and 13 mph for the long.

Cyclists who fail to maintain this minimum average speed and are therefore overtaken by the sweep car are out of the ride. In this instance, cyclists will be asked to submit their timing chip to the sweep staff before continuing. This acts as an acknowledgement that they are no longer part of the event, and that the event infrastructure such as medical support and feed stations will no longer be available to them.

How can I be safer on descents?
Keeping it smooth is key when descending. Slamming brakes on and then pedaling furiously is inefficient, slower and also dangerous.

Getting on the drops lowers your centre of gravity, giving more control and makes it easier to cover your brakes. As you’re faster when descending leave a bigger gap between you and the rider in front and look further ahead than usual as potholes and other obstacles come up quicker.

Should I bother to warm up?
This depends on the distance you’re riding and what your aims are. For example, if you just want to pootle round and have a bit of a social on the 102-mile Poppy sportive, a warm up is probably not vital, whereas if you wish to smash the shorter 48-miler you may want to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the event. Warm ups are often important for fast starts or if the route hits a steep hill immediately.

They can vary from rolling up and down the road to a full blown, progressive effort with some sprints on the rollers. If you are going for a quick time a warm up can be beneficial as the front groups often start very fast and if you can stick in there – without burning yourself up for the rest of the event – it can help get you the finish time you want.

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?
Just email Katriona k.harding@poppyscotland.org.uk or Vicki  v.young@poppyscotland.org.uk with any Sportive related questions

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Call Katriona or Vicki on 0131 557 2782 or Email  events@poppyscotland.org.uk


Emergency contact: In case of serious medical emergency please do not hesitate to call 999

If you decide to withdraw from the Sportive for any reason, please call this number: 07894 484 494

Otherwise, we can be reached on: 07894 484 499

Keep in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #teampoppy


Poppyscotland Sportive cycling jersey:

Order one of our popular unisex Poppyscotland Sportive cycling jerseys for only £35.

To buy your new cycling jersey, Click Here!

2019 Sportive Jersey

· Short sleeve club cut cycling jerseys
· Full length robust SBS hidden zip
· Club Cut (more relaxed fit)
· 3 rear pockets plus reflective piping for extra visibility
· Silicone gripper around the hem
· Upgraded cool drying fabrics with vented mesh side panels
· Italian inks for zero fade

If you raise more than £100 in sponsorship money for Poppyscotland, we’ll give you one for free!

Thank you to our event supporters:


Also, we would like to thank:

· Arnold Clark
· The residents of the Avenue, Gifford
· All our wonderful Sportive volunteers!
· Prestonpans Community centre staff

For event photography

Two Wheeled Marshall Group
For providing event marshals

The Poppyscotland Sportive is organised, managed and delivered by a team of dedicated volunteers and staff, ensuring that we keep event costs low and plough every penny we can back into our welfare services.

Award winners! In October 2019 our incredible team of long-standing Sportive volunteers won an award! This team of dedicated cyclists from Edinburgh and East Lothian have been instrumental in shaping, growing and developing the Poppyscotland Sportive over the years and won the Institute of Fundraising Scotland, Scottish Fundraising Award for “Voluntary Fundraising Group of the Year 2019

Since 2014, they have raised more than £300,000  – an incredible success which will make a significant impact in the lives of veterans in Scotland who are suffering mental health issues, homelessness, poverty or struggling to find employment.

Poppyscotland are delighted and proud that our dedicated group volunteers have been recognised as one of the best volunteer groups in the country.


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