Riding your First Sportive

16th September 2015

So what is a sportive? It’s an organised cycling event covering a short (10 mile) or long distance (100+ miles). If you like riding your bike, you’ll enjoy one.

What is it like to ride a sportive?

You’ll be allocated a starting point and time. When you arrive you’ll be given some safety advice and instructions on following the directions. That’s when the cycling begins. Ask five cyclists what they love about riding a sportive and you’ll get five different answers. For some it’s the challenge, for others the scenery. For others, it’s for the feeling you get after you’ve completed a 100 mile ride- a feeling of complete calm and great achievement.

Do I need to train?

It’s always good to be prepared and build up your training in the month’s leading up the event. It’s a good idea to follow a training plan so you know you are on track with it comes to the big day.

What will I need?

Bike: Ideally  a road bike, cyclocross, audax or touring bike. However people ride out sportives on a variety of bikes. Whilst a road bike is expensive, it’s light and efficient with a comfortable riding position (once you get used to it).

Cleats: You’ll be happy you chose the clip-in pedals and shoes when you hit the hills. This will essentially boost your performance as you are pulling on the upturn of the crank but you are also pushing down against a wider area thus transferring your power more efficiently. If you’ve not tried them before, I recommend trial runs somewhere where when you fall, you won’t hurt yourself.

Bottles + bottle cages: A couple of bottles strapped to your bicycle will mean you don’t need to stop to have a drink. Frequent stopping and starting will kill your pace. A note of caution though: Don’t attempt to reach for your bottle as you are powering around a corner. The results can be disastrous.

Helmet: A  helmet is essential in a fast sportive where there can be dangers of loose gravel, potholes and badly trained drivers.

Saddle bag: A saddle bag is great for storing the bits you’ll need for the sportive. Puncture repair kit, tyre levers, mini-pump, spare inner tubes and a multitool should be kept in a saddle bag.

Cycling jersey: One with pockets at the back will allow you to stuff a few energy bars, gels and a banana that you can reach without stopping along the sportive.

Fingerless gloves: Riding over such a long distance can be painful to your hands. A pair of gloves can really help out.

Cycling shorts: The lycra shorts you see with padding at the back will keep you riding for longer.

Waterproof jacket: Ideally you should have a waterproof jacket stuffed away. This can be wrapped up and placed under the saddle.