Whether you’re a seasoned road racer, or just looking to have a bit of fun, spring sportives are a great way to get out and about, see some countryside and test yourself all at the same time. If you’re a road riding newbie, a sportive is an organised, challenged ride on the road, which usually has a choice of distances to cater to riders of any level. Fully, signposted, they also tend to have fuel stops, repair stations and rider support, so they’re a great way to get into the racing game.
Although sportives are pretty well organised, with lots of features to help take care of you, it always helps to put in a little extra preparation. Here’s our sportive checklist to help you get the most out of those miles:
1. GET A BIKE CHECK
Although most races tend to have a repairman handy, never underestimate the power and importance of a thorough bike check. Get down to your local bike shop for a service at the start of the season. Let them know any races you’re planning to take on - they might have further suggestions for modification or maintenance. It’s also worth brushing up on your emergency repair knowledge and attending the race armed with some spare tubes, tyre levers, a pump and a multi-tool, just in case you cycle into trouble on the day.
2. LAYER UP
Sportives may start early in the morning when it tends to be a lot cooler, but you may regret the extra weight when you’re on a large climb. Instead, opt for clothing layers that you can easily remove or add when necessary, such as arm or leg warmers.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH
A little local knowledge never hurt anyone. Going into a race having done some research will allow you to prepare much more efficiently. The earlier you know you’re entering the better, so you can adjust your winter Wattbike training plan to ensure you’ll be able to do the mileage comfortably. By familiarising yourself with the route you’ll also know the best way to prepare for any tricky climbs or descents.
4. NAIL YOUR NUTRITION
Sure, there are food stations around the course, but you’re definitely going to want to get some good fuel in much earlier. A good breakfast is key to getting a good head start, so try and get one in a couple of hours before setting off- think porridge, muesli, toast and scrambled egg or fruit. Try and take two bottles of water and a bottle of energy drink round and snack on an energy bar or gel routinely - but make sure they’re ones you’ve tried and tested so you don’t risk upsetting your stomach. After the race, make sure you fuel up and meet everyone else to get the beers in.
5. ENJOY IT
Don’t push yourself too hard on your first race; start small and work up and take the shorter distance if you need to. Stops are there to be stopped at so feel free to take a break if you need it. It’s also really helpful to get involved with a group or ride with friends, as they’ll give you extra encouragement if you start to flag. Most of all, have fun with it!
cycling sportive training programmes
If you’ve signed up for a sportive this year, why not try one of the following Wattbike sessions, which have been designed specifically to help you tackle the challenges of a sportive.