Sportive events have really taken off in recent years and there are some great challenges for every ability. Now that you’ve chosen your event, you want to enjoy the ride. However, there’s more to cycling than ‘just going out for a ride’. Follow these simple tips for a great Sportive.
Before your event
Tip 1) Fuel your body for exercise during training and your event
Nutrition is the biggest limiting factor in fatigue. Our bodies only store enough glycogen (our energy source) for up to 90 minutes of exercise. If your event is longer, you’ll need to take up to 60g carbohydrates per hour. This can be in the form of energy drinks, gels or solid foods. Finding the right combination for you takes time so test this in training. Don’t try anything new in your event!!
Tip 2) Stay hydrated
We’re made up of about 70% water. If we don’t drink enough, the fluid in the blood and muscles is reduced and then we don’t function as well. It’s possible to go all scientific and weigh yourself before and after exercise but the easiest way is to check the colour of you pee. Generally we’ll need to drink approximately 500-1000ml per hour depending on the temperature and your sweat rate.
Tip 3) Check the course
If the course is long enough there will be feed stations along the way. With this information you can work out how much fuel and drink is needed to get there and re-stock for the next section. If it’s wet, windy or both, it will take longer to get there so take more supplies.
Tip 4) Fuel up the day before
If it’s a particularly long event, it’s important to ensure glycogen stores are fully loaded. You’ll need to increase your carbohydrate intake throughout the day. To find out how many carbs you need in grams, multiply your weight by 10. For example, an 80 kg rider should eat approximately 800g of carbs throughout the day.
On the day
Tip 5) Use tips 1 and 2
These tips are here for a reason. Now you need to stick to what works.
Tip 6) Have a good breakfast
Have a good breakfast high in carbs 2-3 hours before your start. Don’t leave it too late as this could cause stomach cramps! It’s also important to drink 500-1000ml of your chosen energy drink during this time.
Tip 7) Start slow and finish fast
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your event and set off too fast but you’ll blow the doors off long before you reach the finish. If your group is too fast then slow down. You’ll be caught by another group so join them. If they’re too slow, join a faster group as you’re caught. Using a Heart rate monitor or power meter will help you avoid going too hard. Don’t go above zones 3 or 4 (depending on your fitness level). When you’re near the finish you can push the pace up.
Tip 8) Communicate with others to avoid accidents
As with every bike ride it’s important to communicate with others to avoid any unnecessary accidents. Simple things like pointing out potholes, speed bumps and road furniture. Looking over your shoulder before moving out. Letting other people know you’re overtaking and on what side. Tell others when you’re stopping!!
By following these simple tips, you’re sure to have a great day out.
About the Author: Richard Lord was a Scottish Cycling Development Coach, where he won the Sainsbury’s UK School Games as Team Manager for Scotland South in 2011. He has a degree in Sports Science and is a British Cycling Level 3 Road and Time Trial coach. He now owns www.equipecyclecoaching.com where he enjoys supporting sportive and road racers to achieve their goals.