How best to prepare for a sportive

Got an event coming up? You need to pay attention to your nutrition, your training and your bike fit

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Stephen Garvey is a cyclist and physio with Six Physio, he has taken part in many sportives himself and works at UKCE events so sees riders as they finish when they come in for massage. He explains some of the things you can do to help your event go more smoothly, so you perform better and feel more comfortable on your bike.

Training and Fitness

“How people feel at the finish depends on what they have done in training before,” explains Garvey, “everyone will have different endurance and different physical capabilities.

“A lot of people doing sportives and events are trying to juggle a busy lifestyle and train at the same time, but there is no substitute for training. A lot of the injuries I see in clinic are down to people having irregular training patterns.”

A training plan doesn’t have to complicated: “Its having a good mix of routes and training on the type of terrain you will get in the event – is it a hilly course, a flat course, will it be windy?

“If you are able to fit in three or four sessions a week with a long ride, a hilly ride and a sprint session then you have a very specific training plan for preparing your body for an event, so there are no surprises on the day.”

Knee pain can arise from incorrect bike fit

Knee pain can arise from incorrect bike fit

Bike Fit

Before an event, in your training phase is a good time to have a bike fit and physio session, just to check that your body and bike are working as well together as they can: “I do bike fits here at Six Physio and quite a lot of the people I see only need very subtle changes but it can make a huge difference in their comfort, aerodynamics and power output.
“This is a great thing to do before you start training for an event.”

Bike fit is very specific to each individual “there are always limiting factors to a position and that comes from the person sat on the bike. If your day job is quite sedentary and you don’t have time for a lot of training or strength and conditioning work, then you have to set up the bike accordingly.”

When you go in for a fit Garvey will take into account your target event and your personal goals: “for me there are three areas of bike fit; power, aerodynamics and comfort. Of the three of those there will be one that is quite dominant to the individual and for most UKCE events it is going to be comfort.”


Long cycling events require you to fuel yourself properly, this means staying hydrated with around 500-750ml of fluid an hour and eating sufficient carbohydrate, about 60g an hour. You can get this from a banana and a bar, handful of jelly babies, fig rolls or a carbohydrate drink in your water bottle. But good nutrition for an event isn’t just about what you eat on the day you need to support your training in the lead up to an event with a healthy, varied diet.

Cycling is a great way of burning calories and losing weight, if you need to. Losing weight can improve your cycling and reduce the strain on your body, “the more weight you have the more you have to haul around the course,” explains Garvey, “eat well and look after yourself and you can lose weight which will mean you last longer in the saddle and can ride in more comfort.”

“Diet, bike fit and training – all three of those together makes the perfect way to prevent injury when in the saddle,” concludes Garvey.

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