In association with Chapeau– when riding a route in the south-west of England, it’d be rude not to sample the local brands. For our top sportive tips, Chapeau provided us with warmers, bib shorts and jerseys from its Spring and Summer ranges, including The Etape, The Club and The Tempo.
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Here at Cycling Weekly, we love a good sportive, and there are many great sportives in the UK. We travelled down to the south west of the UK to ride the UKCE Dartmoor Demon route, 88 miles long with close to 9000 feet of climbing.
If you’re faced with such a big ride, then here are our top tips for riding sportives.
Choose the right equipment
This starts with buying the bike you’re going to ride. There are two very important things to consider and those are stack and reach. Usually, an endurance bike will have a shorter reach and a taller stack – basically that means it’s shorter and the bars are higher up, making it more comfortable.
Brands are now able to do amazing things with carbon fibre and this makes a dramatic difference when out on the ride. All three of us had bike’s with special layup technology, usually meaning different parts are stiffer for added performance whilst other areas are more compliant for greater comfort.
Tyre clearance is now so important, too. We were all riding bikes with 28mm widths that adds bags of comfort to a ride and reduces rolling resistance. They also partner very well with disc brakes.
Gearing can be a bit of headache, but it’s important to get your head around it. Most endurance bikes come with a compact chainset, which meas a 50 tooth outer ring and 34 tooth inner. This is usually partnered with an 11-30 or 32 cassette. Basically, it just gives a bigger spread of gears to help winch yourself up the climbs.
Clothing is probably the most important aspect of a sportive to get right, especially here in the UK where the weather is so unpredictable.
For starters, get a jacket and a gilet that stuffs in your back pocket in case the rain comes. The next top tip is never wear a brand new pair of shorts for the first time on your big ride. You just don’t know how they’re going to feel when your in the saddle for hours on end.
Now, eating and drinking is vital to any ride but modern sports science actually says that you only need to drink when your thirsty, and that you don’t need to overdo it. Eating-wise, we’d recommend fuelling little and often by eating the food that suits you; that might be gels and bars or sandwiches and bananas, it’s different for everyone.
It’s always worth checking the vital parts of your bike before any big ride, and we’d especially recommend sorting your gears. Whether you need to give them a bit of mechanical love or charge your Shimano Di2, it’s well worth doing.
Oh, and definitely pump up your tyres, too.
Train, train train
In the lead up to your sportive try and ride the distance that you’re going to be undertaking on the day. Not only will this give your fitness a boost but it’ll also give you a major psychological boost knowing you can go the distance.