Road

10 top reasons to take on a sportive this year

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 8:44am
Category: Road

10 top reasons to take on a sportive this year
Sportive cycles – mass road rides with hundreds or even thousands of participants, sometime on roads specially closed for the purpose – have exploded in popularity.

Non-competitive in nature and generally featuring a choice of distances and/or routes, sportive riders can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that a full support organisation, including food and drink stops, mechanical support and the ‘broom wagon’ to sweep up stragglers, is behind them should they need it.

10 top reasons to take on a sportive this year

However if you’re new to riding, or coming back from a break, the idea of completing up to 100 miles or more in a single ride can seem daunting. It needn’t be – a sportive is a great challenge to set yourself and might be easier than you think to get ready in time.

To give you a flavour of what to expect on a sportive, watch the ride we took on at the Etape Eryri:

So as we while away the long months of winter, here are our 10 reasons why completing a sportive should be top of your cycling bucket list this year.

1. The excuses
We’ve heard them all. In fact, we’ve made them all at one time or another. Yes, we know it’s wet outside. That’s why rain jackets and mudguards were invented. We know you ‘haven’t got the legs right now’. You aren’t going to get them sitting on the couch. We know you’re busy with kids and work. So is everybody else on that start line. We know your bike isn’t perfect. It doesn’t need to be.

Stop lining up excuses and start clocking up the miles. You’re going to have to do it some day. Why not do it this year?

2. The target
Nothing focuses the mind and body like a goal to work towards, and having your place booked on a sportive in a couple of months will help motivate you to get out and train.

We’ve included two training plans below, and many sportives – or even your national cycling federation – will offer comprehensive training plans to download for free.

Alternatively you can consider joining a club where your training will be structured and you will have the opportunity to learn new skills (such as group riding) progress your fitness and make new friends as you work towards a common goal.

3. The feelings
It’s a strange mix of fear, nervous anticipation and excitement, knowing that one sunny day in the spring or summer you will test your physical and mental stamina like it has never been tested before. It’s that feeling that will help you to get out of bed on a Sunday and ride further and harder, week after week, ticking off your training calendar until the big day looms.

And let’s not forget the feeling of satisfaction as you know you are supporting a local charity, the feeling of elation as you cross the line, the feeling of camaraderie in the pub after the ride…

10 top reasons to take on a sportive this year

4. The pain
Getting in shape to tackle a big sportive ride is no picnic, so be ready for aching legs and a saddle-sore bum, both on the day itself and in the weeks of training that precede it. But nothing worthwhile comes without sacrifice, and you can mitigate the pain through smart choices – choosing to follow a sensible training and diet plan, choosing a distance for your first sportive that matches your ability (as a rule of thumb you should be able to comfortably ride two-thirds of the sportive distance in training, so if taking on a 100km ride you should have 60km+ under your belt) and also choosing a route that isn’t too punishing for your first time out.

Remember all 100km sportives are not equal – look carefully at the elevation plan for your chosen route to ensure it’s relatively flat or even, rather than a hill-strewn sufferfest.

10 top reasons to take on a sportive this year

5. The pleasure
Hand-in-hand with the pain comes the pleasure – the pleasure of the finish line and the pub afterwards, yes, but also the pleasure of coasting down the lee side of a climb you didn’t think you’d conquer, of enjoying a leg massage post-ride, of a simple sandwich and cup of tea just when the tank was running on empty.

And over and above all this – the pleasure that comes from knowing you set a goal, and saw it through.

10 top reasons to take on a sportive this year

6. The education
Nothing will teach you more about riding, faster (and riding faster) than taking part in group rides, whether as part of club training in the run up to a sportive, or on the day itself.

You’ll get an invaluable education in safe group riding, rider etiquette, proper nutrition and hydration, pacing yourself, roadside mechanicals and much, much more.

10 top reasons to take on a sportive this year

7. The view
There is no better way to enjoy the beauty of the countryside than from a saddle, and sportive cycles, with roads sometimes closed for the purpose, put the cyclist at the top of the pyramid, at least for one day. It can be disquieting sometimes to ride through country you’ve travelled countless times by car and realise you are truly seeing it for the first time.

Many and vivid are the memories made on a big ride in beautiful country. Enjoy the view. It’s not a race.

10 top reasons to take on a sportive this year

8. The people
Central to the sportive experience is the friends that are made, whether before the ride in the new clubmates you find at your shoulder as you chaingang along the byways, during the ride in the form of easy alliances with riders of similar pace, or afterwards in the shared bonhomie of the pub or event tent.

It won’t be long before your sportive companions join your cohort of friends, off the bike as well as on.

10 top reasons to take on a sportive this year

9. The start line
Nothing beats the excitement of the start line, those butterflies in your stomach as months of thought and preparation come to a head, hundreds of riders all ready to clip in when the signal is given. Nothing beats it, except perhaps…

10 top reasons to take on a sportive this year

10. The finish line
… and no matter how improbable it may have seemed back in the dark months of winter, when your trembling hand typed your details on the entry form, you cross the line having achieved something genuine, real and admirable.

Once the backslaps are concluded and the glow has faded a little… your thoughts turn to the next sportive on the calendar, only this time you’re doing the full distance.


Chain Reaction Cycles are partnering with a number of sportives this year – see our full events calendar now and get involved!

Dos and don’ts for your first sportive

DO
– Do it. Book your place. No more excuses, no backing out.
– Train properly. Make the time, get a plan and stick to it
– Join a club if you can. The structure will make training easier
– Choose your route carefully. Don’t overestimate your ability (broom wagon or no broom wagon) and don’t forget to check the elevation
– Consider your nutrition, both while training and during the ride. Plan to stay fuelled and avoid ‘the bonk’
– Dress wisely with layers to suit a variety of conditions. It’s a long day and may well have elevated sections, so don’t plan on being in short sleeves all day
– Enjoy yourself!

DON’T
– Take it too seriously. You have nothing to prove.
– Overestimate your ability. You should be comfortably able to ride two-thirds of the sportive distance in training
– Forget essentials like spare tubes, tyre levers and tools.
– Treat it like a race. It’s not a race. Don’t be that guy. Nobody likes that guy.

Here are some sportive training tips courtesy of Action Medical Research
• 1 hour of QUALITY workout in the gym is worth 2 hours out on the road, but does not prepare you to physically
push a bike through the air. Maybe consider Zwifting
• It is important to warm up for at least 10 minutes before starting a training session – see the attached basic
stretch programme for guidance.
• A good idea is a circuit of machines giving aerobic workout e.g. rowing, cross-country skiing, stepper/climber,
exercise bike.
• Try the attached exercise circuit sheet to help build specific muscle groups.
• Spinning classes are excellent, leg weight training is also recommended.
• Turbo trainers are very good, especially during the winter months as they enable you to train indoors on a “real”
bike. It will keep you fit and get you used to the shape of your bike. Fluid turbo trainers are quieter if noise is a
problem in your household.
• Make sure you plan adequate rest/recovery days as part of the training.

Sportive training plan for beginners

Week 1

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest day Cycle 20 – 30 mins Rest day Cycle 20 – 30 mins Rest day 1 ½ – 2 hours cycling

Week 2

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest day Cycle 20 – 30 mins Rest day Cycle 20 – 30 mins Rest day 1 ½ – 2 hours cycling

Week 3

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest day Cycle 20 – 30 mins Rest day Cycle 20 – 30 mins Rest day 1 ½ – 2 hours cycling

Week 4

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Cycle 40 mins (8-10 miles) Rest day Cycle 40 mins (8-10 miles) Rest day Cycle 40 mins (8-10 miles) Cycle 2 – 2 ½ hours (25-30 miles)

Week 5

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Cycle 40 mins (8-10 miles) Rest day Cycle 40 mins (8-10 miles) Rest day Cycle 40 mins (8-10 miles) Cycle 2 – 2 ½ hours (25-30 miles)

Week 6

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Cycle 40 mins (8-10 miles) Rest day Cycle 40 mins (8-10 miles) Rest day Cycle 40 mins (8-10 miles) Cycle 2 – 2 ½ hours (25-30 miles)

Week 7

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 30-40 miles (2-2 ½ hours)

Week 8

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 30-40 miles (2-2 ½ hours)

Week 9

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 30-40 miles (2-2 ½ hours)

Week 10

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles 40-50 miles

Week 11

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles 40-50 miles

 

Week 12

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles 40-50 miles

 

Week 13

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10 miles Rest day 15-20 miles Rest day 15-20 miles 45-60 miles

Week 14

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10 miles Rest day 15-20 miles Rest day 15-20 miles 45-60 miles

Week 15

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10 miles Rest day 15-20 miles Rest day 15-20 miles 45-60 miles

Week 16

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
20-25 miles Rest day 25-30 miles Rest day 20-25 miles 50-65 miles

Week 17

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
20-25 miles Rest day 25-30 miles Rest day 20-25 miles 50-65 miles

 

Week 18

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
20-25 miles Rest day 25-30 miles Rest day 20-25 miles 50-65 miles

Week 19

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
15 miles Rest day 25 miles Rest day 25 miles 65-75 miles

Week 20

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
15 miles Rest day 25 miles Rest day 25 miles 65-75 miles

Week before your ride

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10 miles 5 miles 10 miles 5 miles Rest day 15-20 miles

Sportive training plan for intermediate riders

Week 1

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles 40-50 miles

Week 2

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles 40-50 miles

 

Week 3

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles Rest day 10-15 miles 40-50 miles

 

Week 4

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10 miles Rest day 15-20 miles Rest day 15-20 miles 45-60 miles

Week 5

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10 miles Rest day 15-20 miles Rest day 15-20 miles 45-60 miles

Week 6

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10 miles Rest day 15-20 miles Rest day 15-20 miles 45-60 miles

Week 7

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
20-25 miles Rest day 25-30 miles Rest day 20-25 miles 50-65 miles

Week 8

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
20-25 miles Rest day 25-30 miles Rest day 20-25 miles 50-65 miles

 

Week 9

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
20-25 miles Rest day 25-30 miles Rest day 20-25 miles 50-65 miles

Week 10

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
15 miles Rest day 25 miles Rest day 25 miles 65-75 miles

Week before your ride

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10 miles 5 miles 10 miles 5 miles Rest day 15-20 miles

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