Unprecedented coverage of Cycle Sportivs is reflected the growing popularity of these events which offer something for everyone, be it a taste of road racing, getting some quality miles in or a chance to savour a leisurly tour through fantastic scenery in enjoyable company.
Cyclo Sportives are mass-participation, semi competitive cycling events over challenging terrain.
The best known is the Etape du Tour which gives you the chance to test yourself on the actual route of one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France.
Training for a Sportive
Most cyclists will never cycle in the Tour de France so completing a cycling sportive usually in the days before a major professional cycle road race then comparing yourself against cycling legends is an amazing feeling.
Often past cycling greats take part in sportive cycling events with you.
Famous sportive events include L''Etape Du Tour is on closed roads held a few days before the Tour De France also La Marmote
Sometimes getting a place is the hardest part so you may need to sign up with a tour operator.
Don't forget that the pros will have followed the route you completed a few days later!
World wide Sportives are held in the following countries.
Belgium - Tour of Flanders www.sport.be/cyclingtour/rondevanvlaan-deren/2008/eng
Grand Fondo Eddy Merckx Bikeorganisation.be
France- La Marmotte www.cyclomundo.com/marmotte.html
Holland - Amstel Gold www.amstel-goldrace.nl
Italy – Grand Fondo Sportful northern Italy, held in the spectacular Dolomiteshttp://www.gfsportful.it/
South Africa - Cape Argus Pick n Pay., Held in Cape Town South Africa probably the worlds largest timed cycle event outside Europe over 35,000 cyclists. http://www.southafrica.info/about/sport/cycletour.htm
Spain - La Miguel Indurain, Bera Spain. www.laindurain.com
Switzerland - Gruyere Cycling Tour., Bulle. http://www.gruyere-cycling-tour.ch
United Kingdom holds many cycling sportives from February to November.
Some of the popular events include Bealach na Ba, Etape Caledonia, Dragon Ride Wales, London to Cambridge , London to Oxford, Hampshire Hundred (http://hampshirehilly.moonfruit.com/#)
An organizer who has been doing events for 20 years click onto http://www.bike-events.com/
Training and preparation for a cycling Sportive.
6 months before.
With GPS that record distance travelled and height climbed you should be able to train on similar climbs and terrain for your chosen event or at least know how much ascent you have completed on a ride.
Get use to regular to 1,000 calories before each ride and eating and drinking little and often carbohydrate rich foods. Aim for 300-500 calories per hour from solids and drinks. This all depends on your calorie requirements per hour and how you perform during training. Try and reach your upper limit and see how your energy levels are during the latter parts of your rides.
Carry extra food on rides otherwise when you carry enough food for your sportive it will make you feel sluggish.
Don't rely on the feed stations having enough food for you. They may run out of your favorite food or you may miss or drop vital supplies at a busy aid station.
Have it clear in your mind what drink and food is available sometimes water maybe in a different cycle bottle compared to a sponsored sports drink.
Correct gearing for the climbs, much better to have an easier no one asks what ratio they ask did you manage to cycle up every hill.
Get an easier cassette and practice with it.
4 weeks to go.
Take bike for MOT consider new brake blocks brakes and gears check.
Put two new tyres on which can prevent punctures. You should by now have tried and tested clothing helmet gloves shoes etc.
3 weeks to go
Very few with feel they have done training!
2 weeks to go.
Doing a last session especially in the last 2 weeks as you will Not recover in time.
Refrain from fiber foods race day to prevent an unnecessary pit toilet stop!
Time should be spent in the last 2 weeks on the most important part how to check to your accommodation what time do they serve breakfast?
How do I get to the start, park and ride?
Sportive day tips.
You may need to wear and place a competitor number, make sure it does not flap about or rubs on your legs. Some events require you to have a time chip to record your time and whereabouts during the event, as you ride across time mats.
Not carrying enough food for at least an extra 1 hour you may need to cycle back home or be held up. Refrain from fiber foods race day to prevent an unnecessary pit toilet stop!
Attaching a bike number to cables that stop the gears and brakes working.
Never sprint off at the start only you will remember most of us only have one sprint during an event save it for the finish.
Use the easiest gear up every hill save your strength.
Communicate in your group avoid obstructions and holes in the road that prevent crashes punctures.
Failing to concentrate in a large group and end up falling off and hurting yourself.
Ironmate Sportive Top tips.
You will be riding in close proximity to many hundreds and thousands of other cyclists.
Expect the unexpected, cyclist suddenly stopping in front due to fatigue, poor gear change, dropped chains, punctures, others swerving to avoid a dropped drinks bottle. Try and avoid stopping using an easy gear will allow you to safely pass others who may have gone off too fast.
You need very easy gears. Use your fitness and save your strength at all costs. Especially if it’s hot a good way to keep cool is use an easy gear pushing against resistance creates your body temperature to quickly raise.
If you cannot find a hill that is long enough then complete a 30 minute TT then complete a total of 30 minutes of hill repeats (not including recovering spinning back down to the bottom)
Cycling over geared 55-60 revs per minute before riding up hill can closely stimulate sportive. You need to get use to being tired when riding up hill.
Riding off road builds up strength while you have a high cadence again similar to long hot sportive climbs.
Set your watch to go off every 5-10-15 minutes and practice drinking. Learn how many swigs it takes before you empty a bottle. If you need to drink 500ml per hour keep a note of your swigs so you stay on track and hydrated.
Learn to spin your legs down hills, not necessary at 70 revs per minute but 10-20 revs keeps the blood flowing and saves your legs.
Practice with the foods that you will eat in your sportive. Even have your 1,000 calorie breakfast before your long training rides.
Expect your taste buds to change and if the weather is much hotter in the sportive then gels and some bars can be hard to swallow!
You will be burning up 500-900 calories per hour.
A 10 hour sportive will therefore need 5,000-9,000 calories. You will not be able to consume that much and still cycle but you will still need at least 40% of your sportive needs during the event.
The air will be thinner but also the air will be drier so you need to drink more the higher up you go.
Prepare for 4 seasons during one long day.
Comfort 1st that you have tried many times in training not new clothing.
Cold to start then expect the temperature to rise. Even rain may fall higher up.
It can often be cold at the top. Staying warm requires extra energy (calories). Spare layers can make all the difference and defiantly worth stopping to put on an extra layer.
Once you get tired you will need a much wider ratio cassette to help you get up hills comfortably. Practice easy spinning on the hills to develop muscle memory.
Must have sportive items
A comfortable saddle good padded cycling shorts and chamois cream to prevent chafing are must have items to have an enjoyable sportive.
You will also be in the saddle for a long time conditions change and you go up hill and get hot then descend down hill and get cold so have a cape gillet or a light weight (folds up small) waterproof jacket.
Take at least 2, 3 spare inner tubes are better if you get 2 punctures you don’t have to worry about puncturing again as you still have one left.
Punctures are more common if it has been raining and debris will have been washed onto the roads.
Also carry with you enough food to go for at least another hour. The crowded course hold ups and the conditions may mean you may start later than planned and therefore get hungry and hour from the finish.
Should have sportive items
Mudguards weigh hardly anything and will keep the spray off your feet and you should it rain.
Luxury items include a Garmin 705 Sat Nav can tell you where you are what type of terrain to expect on your screen, how far you have travelled average current speed and even power if you have a power meter wheel.
Good tyres that are puncture resistant that also has good grip are worth the investment.
Choose a gear that seems too easy save yourself.
No one will ask you what gear you used but were you able to cycle without stopping.
It is difficult to train on the same terrain so
See my table below of using an easy gear high cadence to comfortably cycle up a hill. Compare the sprocket and cadence required to maintain the same speed.
The climbs will be long so you need to find your own rhythm.
Keep your arms wide apart to allow as much air into your lungs as possible.
27" wheel x 36 (Chain wheel) divide by rear sprocket = number in inches travelled
I.e. 27 x 36 divide 20 = 48.6 inches for one revolution.
700c wheels – 36 inner front ring
Sprocket – Inches for one revolution – revs per minute to maintain
8 mph - 5 mph
20 48.6 68 42
21 46.3 71 44
22 44.2 75 46
23 42.3 77 48
24 40.5 81 50
25 38.9 84 52
26 37.4 87 54
27 36.0 91 58
Other Sportive gear ratio’s listed below.
700c wheels –
40/22 (49.1 inches)
42/23 (49.3 inches)
44/24 (49.5 inches)
46/25 (49.7 inches)
39/21 (50.1 inches)
38/21 (48.9 inches)
36/20 (48.6 inches)
36/19 (51.2 inches)
36/25 (51.2 inches)
36/26 (48.6 inches)
36/27 (51.2 inches)
650 wheels –
36/19 (49.3) inches)
38/20 (49.4 inches)
39/20 (50.7 inches)
39/21 (48.3 inches)
7 days before
In the 7 days before your sportive you need to keep snacking and never getting hungry.
Carbohydrate on race day will be your main source of fuel. Your readily available carbohydrate energy will be around 2,000-2,200 calories.
Liver 100g/400 calories and 400g/1,600 calories in the muscles and the rest in the blood. This is not enough for your sportive so you will need to have 300-450 calories per hour from foods and drinks.
Last 7 days
Make sure you keep you keep hydrated with a 6% carbohydrate drink and have a protein recovery drink after each work out.
3 days before
Increase your carbohydrate and reduce fat protein and fiber from your diet.
A reduction in training will mean you need fewer calories anyway.
Sportive Mistakes to avoid
Make no changes to your bike position. If you have to remove saddle handlebars etc for travelling make sure you use tape or marker pen to be able to replace everything back to normal.
Don’t just drink plain water in the last 7 days otherwise you could wash away your natural minerals from your body with your urine. Have food with your water or add fruit juice.
For long distance nutrition sportive tips click on link- http://www.ironmate.co.uk/nutrition-info.htm