As cycle fever once again grips the region following another successful Tour de Yorkshire, are you feeling inspired to push yourself and try a sportive? Tony Booth of All Terrain Cycles takes a look at how to prepare to take on the challenge.
Cycling has become more popular in recent years and with this comes a rise in the number of organised cycling events. However, unlike the Tour de Yorkshire, a sportive is not a race, rather it is designed to be a challenge in distance and terrain. A sportive gives the rider a chance to focus on their training, meet fellow cyclists and enjoy rides and routes throughout the country which have been specifically organised and, therefore, are well signposted and structured. Sportives are also a great way to take your cycling to the next level. They’re hosted throughout the summer and into autumn (for the more hardy riders) and with routes varying from 20 to 100 plus miles, there’s a sportive for everyone, from amateurs to borderline pros.
While a sportive isn’t a competitive race, most events normally use timing chips, allowing you to record and beat that personal best. Whether you’re taking part as a personal goal or raising money for a charity, preparation is the key to a successful and enjoyable sportive.
Like a car, your bike needs to be properly maintained, a full bike service can be undertaken by any reputable bike shop and will ensure your bike is ready and safe to ride. Making sure your saddle is the correct fit is key to a comfortable cycle - if your saddle feels uncomfortable, it’s probably time for a new one. The saddle should also be at the correct height to ensure maximum efficiency, so check this prior to setting off - you shouldn’t be able to put your feet flat on the floor, if you can, your seat is too low. And obviously check for any punctures and re-lube you’re chain before the big day.
Training prior to the sportive is always a good idea. Try to cycle as close to the distance of the sportive as possible so that you have the confidence of knowing that you can comfortably complete the sportive, allowing you to relax and enjoy the ride. Carb loading in the days running up to the event will ensure your energy levels are plentiful. There are normally food and drink fuelling stations along the way, but taking a small supply of food and water with you is a good idea and will ensure your energy levels never fall too low. The general rule is to have some food every 30 minutes and water every 15 minutes. On the day of the ride, make sure you have the correct kit with you, this includes wearing the right clothing and shoes. Helmets are usually compulsory at organised sportives and while clip-in pedals aren’t a necessity, they will give you a better, more energy efficient ride. Lightweight clothing is a must and avoid cotton - you’ll need to wear something that wicks away the sweat, and don’t forget a waterproof jacket. You can buy great, compact cycling jackets which will fold up and fit into a pocket. A repair kit, a small multi-tool and spare inner tubes are essential just in case of a puncture or mechanical glitch - you don’t want to end up having to walk. Although you need these essentials, try not to carry anything extra as you’ll only waste energy trying to push the extra weight up those hills.
So, if you’re feeling ready to take on the challenge of completing a sportive, just take a look at the British Cycling website www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/ for dates of events in Yorkshire and further afield.
Or, just give cycling a go.