7 Tips for Riding Your First Sportive and Loving it!
Sportive and cycling events are wonderful. You get the atmosphere that only the larger organised cycling events can bring, together with challenge and achievement. They are a good way to chart progress and you often get a medal at the end which is a nice memento for crossing the finish line.
Perhaps you are planning to ride a local event or taking on the 167 kms route in the Mallorca 312. You may be planning to work your way up to an alpine sportive such as Marmotte Granfondo Alps.
Whatever your goals, your first big cycling event is going to be amazing but it will be even better if you take the right approach. With this in mind, let’s explore the best methods to riding your first sportive.
The big day has arrived and you’re at the start and you can feel the excitement build. You’re surrounded by cyclists and there is a buzz in the air. The starting pistol fires and you start pedalling a little faster than normal. And that was your first mistake.
It is very easy to get lost in the event and set off that little bit faster. Although sportives are not races competition ensues which is only natural.
The best strategy when riding your first sportive is to start at a steady pace and avoid getting swept away in the atmosphere of the event. It is tempting to ride at a faster pace and chase riders ahead of you. This can lead to a difficult sportive as you’ll drain your energy and risk the dreaded bonk.
Preparation for a sportive includes carrying spare parts such as inner tubes, tyre levers, repair patches, multitool, chain tool and a mini pump. It is a good idea to take your phone and some cash in case you need emergency supplies or to phone for help.
Clothing should also factor into your preparation as the weather can turn especially if you live in the UK and Ireland.
It is a good idea to learn the route and take note of where the feed stations are, and if possible the terrain. You’re probably going to take on unfamiliar stretches of road and any information is good information.
Food and Drink - Refueling on the Event
Before the sportive, it is a good idea to work out when you need to refuel. Refuelling involves water or energy drink and high carb food that you can digest easily. For a guide to refuelling on the blog check out the following:
- Cycling hydration and what you need to know.
- Understanding carbohydrates in relation to cycle training.
Ensure the meal you have the evening before the sportive is carbohydrate based: this is the fuel/meal that will sustain you in the sportive.
Breakfast: do not overeat! Have your normal breakfast. Porridge, muesli, toast, eggs and fruit are good choices but go with your preference. After the sportive have a good meal as your body will use the nutrients for recovery. Check out our article about recovery and its importance.
You may want to take food and drink while riding. Practice this before the event and ensure you do this on a safe stretch of road. You can always stop to eat and drink and you’re not a lesser cyclist if you do.
Use a Cycling Tour Operator
If you’re riding an overseas sportive it is a good idea to go with a specialist cycling tour operator such as SportActive. Here, the logistics are taken care of so no queuing for race numbers etc, and often strategy and training are included in the package.
Moreover, if you have to arrange everything yourself your mind won’t be on the main thing: The sportive! This will impede your performance. Always use a sportive specialist such as SportActive if you can.
Maintenance and Servicing
Before the sportive, it is a good idea to get your bike serviced. If that’s not possible ensure that gears shift correctly, tyres and brake pads aren’t worn and replaced if they are, and your chain and sprockets are clean and well oiled.
The question of training is a good one. If you’re riding a 100 kms sportive you do not have to train this distance in each training session. It is always advisable you do this 100 kms distance a few times so that you know you can do it. If you’ve entered a sportive that involves climbing, then incorporate in your training schedule routes that involve more climbs. For tips on climbing read our article: 10 tips to climb stronger and faster.
Ride in a Group
Riding in a group preferably with friends enables you to share the workload and make your energy go further. To learn why you can read our article, Group riding pro tips for better cycle training. Group riding not just improves your performance, but riding with friends is more fun.
Pelotons naturally form when riding a sportive. If you’re surrounded by strangers take extra care as you do not know their capabilities.
Good luck riding your first sportive.
SportActive – Faster, Fitter, Stronger.