Spring is a great time to plan a summer sportive ride. It’s a great chance to capitalise on your fitness As well as sportives and mass participation events, summer is peak time for charity fund-raising rides too. So whether you use your fitness to raise funds, overcome a challenge or both, the great thing is, it’s getting you out on your bike.
While the UK is not typically as hot as many places in the world, summer can still throw up some challenging hot days for a long ride. Here are our top tips for a hot summer sportive.
Choose your Sportive Wisely
Be realistic, if your usual rides are flat and around 30 – 40 miles, don’t expect to be able to ride 110 miles over steep hills in mid-summer. While it might be possible – it will be painful. Try to pitch a ride so its a realistic challenge rather than a survival mission.
Planning Your Ride
Plan for the weather, will you need a cape? Is the first 30 miles forecast to be a headwind? These are all things which need to be considered and taken into account checking the weather forecast can give you a fair idea of what’s ahead. Plan your day – think about how long it will take to get to the event and what you need to do before the event. Where will you keep your car keys? You might laugh but at an event in Scotland a couple of years ago, a rider lost his keys from his back pocket and had that difficult decision – ride the route again slowly looking for keys, or call out the RAC…
Make sure you pack enough of a range of clothing with you for all eventualities. Also remember the basic, important things like helmet and shoes. Packing the night before reduces the chance of forgetting stuff, rather than a last-minute rushed scramble the morning of the event.
Are the feed stations on the route well stocked? Will you need an extra bar or gel just in case? Make sure that you will have enough liquids particularly if it’s a long hot day in the saddle. If it’s a longer ride, can you refill bottles on the way around?
Train so that you will be able to cover both the distance and terrain. Starting an event without having done enough training will reduce your enjoyment from the event. Don’t ‘bite off more than you can chew’: If you can ride 100 miles on the flat, you might not necessarily be able to ride 100 miles with lots of big hills, in warm weather.
Easy Does It
Training and preparation will have you in a decent frame of mind for tackling the event. If you haven’t had the ideal preparation, going in to the event with the right attitude might just get you through. Breaking the event into smaller sections will make it more manageable. Riding steady and not getting carried away, can also pay dividends if you haven’t done the training.
Keep Calm & Go the Distance
Dont go too hard too soon. It’s a trap that riders fall into at every event. Getting jacked up on energy / caffeine gels and all excited when getting your bike out of the car is a sure-fire way of setting off far too hard. Try to keep a lid on your giddiness and start steady. On long rides this is especially important. A fast few opening miles can cost a fair bit of discomfort for the closing few miles.
Check your bike the week before your event, make sure everything is working. Will your range of gears get you around the route comfortably? For bigger events it could be worth pampering your bike with a pre-event check-up, if you can’t do this yourself, book it in at a bike shop. If you are travelling to the event by car, remember to take ALL of your bike with you – this might sound daft but leaving little but essential things at home, like thru-axles, at home is not uncommon
Enter with a mate, split the travel costs and have a good old chinwag all the way around the sportive – this is a great way to make sure time flies by and gives you a chance to catch up.
Relax and enjoy the event, make the most of the feed stations and enjoy the different scenery. Smile for the event photographer – make sure your face is clear of any mucus of remnants of that gel you slurped down a few miles ago… Remember it’s not a race, and is supposed to be enjoyable…