To help you prepare for your first sportive we’ve compiled a few tips which we hope will make the day itself easier for you.
A bit of planning will help you enjoy it regardless of the weather.
Road sportives take place practically every weekend in most counties in the UK. If you haven’t tried one before then it’s worth doing so as they take the hassle out of long route preparation and back-up.
Sportives are a great way of riding long distances, with a taste of peloton riding, without all the faff and complexities.
Sportive routes are designed around set distances and are (usually!) clearly arrowed on the day. GPS files of routes are also normally available for you to upload beforehand. So all you have to do is follow the directions.
Feedstops and mechanical back up is also included in the price letting you concentrate on the riding and the social aspect.
Set a realistic goal distance
There are hundreds of events taking place around the country so chose one that you like the look of and is achievable.
Pick something that’s suits your skills and ability and make sure the course and distance are manageable without wasting you otherwise you won’t enjoy it.
Once you know where, when and how far you are riding get some training in and the event will be much more enjoyable.
Have a nutrition plan
Getting your nutrition right before the event will be a significant benefit.
Try any bars, gels or powders in training before the event and stick with what works best for you.
Try not to try anything new on the day of the ride as you never know how your body may react to different products.
Try all your kit before the big day
Make sure you try any new kit before the event.
Clothing or bike parts should be broken in beforehand to ensure you are as comfortable as possible.
New shorts, shoes or saddles shouldn’t be used on the day for the first time even if they are the same as the ones you have been using.
Check your bike a few days before the event
Mechanicals are irritating at the best of times but an avoidable one on your planned ride is even more frustrating.
Give the bike a clean and a once over a few days beforehand and check for wear and tear. If anything needs replacing do it now or get the bike serviced to ensure it is in top condition for the day.
At the very least make sure your tyres are ok, the chain is lubricated and nothing is loose or rattling.
It’s worth also checking you have the right gearing for your event and if it’s hilly you have low enough gears as cassettes can be easily changed in advance.
Pack the day before
Rushing around packing on the day of the event should be avoided if possible.
Pack the night before so you know what you are bringing and have everything ready to go to for the morning.
Check the weather forecast and make sure you have suitable clothing or hopefully sun cream for the event.
Check maps of the course
At the start area there are usually maps with the routes displayed. Take time to look at these and remember key towns or places so you have an idea where you are and where you need to go even if you have the route in your GPS unit.
Check the position of the feed stops too. While you’re there, take the emergency number for the organiser in case anything goes wrong.
Check maps and notices at the start.
Take food, drinks and spares
Food and mechanical back is provided at most events but you shouldn’t solely rely on either.
Take some extra nutrition with you in case the feedstop is low or has food you don’t like, also handy if you start to blow between stops, and again make sure it is stuff you have used before.
Take at least one spare tube, multi tool, puncture repair kit and money. Even if you don’t know how to change a tube or make a repair, if you at least have a tool or spare tube then people will be much more willing to help you than just you relying on someone else to have everything.
Pump up your tyres
If there is one thing that will make a difference to your day it is ensuring your tyres are inflated to the correct pressures.
Soft tyres require more effort to push, are more in danger of puncturing and also affect the handling and comfort of the bike.
While checking the tyres, make sure that nothing has been moved or damaged in transporting your bike to the event.
Buy a track pump and use it
Keep alert during the ride
Most sportives take place on open roads so remember to obey the rules of the road.
Keep an eye out for directional arrows even if you have the route programmed into your GPS unit as any last minute change of course by the organiser will be displayed by event signs on the course.
Don’t go out too hard at the start but instead go for a steady manageable pace that will allow you to make it to the finish without blowing.
This is where looking at the course map and profile, having the right gearing and having a nutrition plan will pay dividends.
And above all – ENJOY IT!
(Images courtesy of wheelsinwheels.com)