Riding a sportive, or a mass-participation cycling event provides a number of opportunities depending on your interest in cycling. You can undertake a challenge, a leisurely ride, raise money for charity or combat personal struggles. The reasons to enter a sportive really are endless, so here’s a guide help you participate, and enjoy a mass participation cycling event!
Find an Event!
An obvious place to start right? Choosing the right event is key to enjoying your day on the bike. I can’t really tell you which event to pick, there’s a whole load of personal circumstances which will dictate your choice: how close to home it needs to be, what distance you want to undertake, what sort of terrain you’re looking for. Almost all sportives at home and abroad are well advertised on Google, so hop online and find the right one for you. My only advice: seek out a challenge. I recently felt the twang of regret having completed 80 miles of the Tour of Flanders and thinking to myself “I really could have completed the 160!” Even if it seems out of your league right now, the proper training, preparation and adrenaline on the day will be a massive aid so don’t shy away from it, challenge yourself and enjoy the immense sense of pride as you cross the finish line!
Prepare Yourself, and your Bike!
Personal preparation starts months before the day of your event. Training is key. A lot of sportives offer structured programs to help you prepare for the upcoming challenge. If this feels too professional for you, forget it, just ride your bike. Getting the hours in on the bike, in a way that you enjoy will really help bring on your fitness a whole load before your big day!
Make sure you know and understand the route which your event will take. If you’re riding the cobbles of Northern Europe you may want to opt for some wider tyres. I personally can’t recommend continental tyres enough, their 28mm GP4000 helped me fly around the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix. If you’re taking on some big climbs considering a larger cassette, dig out that compact chainset and get a 32 tooth sprocket on the back. Find what works best and organise it in plenty of time for your event. I’ve personally felt the sense of doom as you’re preparing a bike for use at the 11th hour, don’t do it to yourself, acknowledge the 7 P’s.
Clothing and fuel will also vary day by day, rider by rider. My advice is always to overdress, it’s easy to take layers off when you’re hot but not so easy to find them if you’re freezing! My go-to item of clothing is always the Castelli Gabba, a perfect item of clothing for keeping you dry, cool, and most importantly- looking smart. Your source of energy will be a complete personal preference, some opt for whole food only, other prefer nutrition products such as gels and bars. I personally opt for a balance of these, especially as products are much easier to carry during a long ride. The Myprotein offering from PBK has really helped me keep my energy up when morale has been low, it’s well worth a look!