The pro racing calendar has finally begun and we’re closing down the gap before sportive season commences. Whether you are new to cycling or familiar to lining up at the start of a century ride, the right preparation is vital. Once you have chosen which sportive(s) you plan to do, the next step is to make sure you are well prepared.
The only way to get better at riding a bike is to “ride lots” as Eddy Merckx once said. Gradually build up your mileage in the weeks and months before your chosen sportive. This will get your body used to handling the demands you’ll face during the sportive. Don’t let bad weather become an excuse to skip training, you never know what conditions may be thrown at you on the day.
Specific terrain training
Whether your sportive is hilly or predominantly flat, you can benefit from creating some specific training scenarios. If you are going to undertake a hilly sportive, find your nearest long hill and get used to getting your body and mind into the zone throughout the climb. If you have no hills at your disposal, incorporating 15-20 minute hard intervals on the flat can be nearly as effective.
Group riding skills
Developing group riding skills will make a huge difference to your performance and your safety on the day. With the number of riders on the road, you will need to be more aware of your surroundings and of what the riders around you are doing.
In the excitement of sportive day, it’s easy to get caught up and try and go faster than you’re body is comfortable. Make sure that you measure your effort for the entire ride and definitely do no go haring off after a group of strong-looking rider, killing yourself just to keep their wheels. The chances are you’ll be dropped and have nothing left in the tank to complete your ride.
Remembering to eat and drink in all the excitement of a sportive can be the difference between having a great ride and feeling like someone has poured concrete down your legs. Practise drinking and eating on the move in the run up to the event and if you plan to use specific nutrition products, sample them in a training ride to make sure that you like and get on with them.
They say that the Tour de France is won in bed. Although this may not be your goal as such, you can still learn from it the importance of adequate rest. During sleep is when your body has the best opportunity to repair itself, allowing you to wake up refreshed and regenerated.
Remember these six key points and you’ll be all set for a great day out on the bike!