If you’ve signed up to tackle a sportive this year, you may be trying to get a few training rides in to prepare for it. Mass participation events can vary in length and difficulty and a 30-mile adventure in the lanes of Kent will naturally be somewhat different to an epic 100km in the French Alps. However, the better your preparation, the more fun you’re likely to have. Here’s a quick Cycle SOS guide to help you train for the big day.
Plan your rides
Figure out how long you have to prepare and plan your training rides. If you have two months to train, look at what you can realistically do in that amount of time, say, one longish ride at the weekend, plus a shorter one during the week. Now mark them out in your diary or on your phone and try to make a note of how you get on afterwards. It’s surprising how motivating it can be to keep a note of your progress.
Research some routes
Obviously getting longer rides in requires you to find some good routes. Make sure you know where you’re going and the kind of roads you may encounter. If you’re unsure where to begin, RIDE WITH GPS is a good place to find local training rides: https://ridewithgps.com/
Prep your bike
Don’t get your bike out of the shed just before your ride. To get the most out of it – and your day – you need to pump the tyres and clean and lubricate the chain and gears the day before. The same applies to your riding kit; it makes things much easier if you have the right kit ready for the forecasted weather.
Begin with a ride of between 1-2 hours, roughly 10-15 miles. Then see if you can add 10 miles on top each week thereafter. If that sounds too easy (or too hard), just start with a distance you think you could normally do and still apply the ‘plus 10’ rule!
Keep it steady
Try to maintain a pace that’s comfortable enough so you could still have a conversation (even if a little out of breath) with your training buddy, or the cows in the adjacent field. Unless you’re looking to come first on the sportive you don’t need to train for the sprint or go on an attack, so steady riding is all that’s required. Don’t push it too much unless you feel like it.
Ride with friends
Not only will this help you stay safe and enjoy your training rides even more, it may also help you get fitter if they’re a little stronger than you – or boost your confidence if you’re the faster rider!
Keep drinking and eating
Staying focused and energised on your rides is vital, so a sip of water every ten minutes and around 100 calories (e.g., a big banana) per hour is recommended.
Eat well off the bike
There’s no need to go on a diet, but ensuring you’re getting the right levels of protein, carbohydrates, fibre and vitamins will ensure you get the most out of your ride.
You don’t actually get fitter when you’re out on the bike, it happens during the time when your body is repairing. Therefore ensuring you recover after a training ride is very important. Put your feet up when you can and don’t roll straight to the pub after your ride… (or at least make it a half!).
If you’re a first-time sportive-rider, try not to be daunted by the event or to let your nerves transfer to overdoing the training or the pace you set on the day itself. Sportives are about having fun, so just try to get out and ride when you can, stay relaxed and, above all, enjoy it.