/ My first race: top 5 bits of advice?
I'm training in a haphazard way, but I *am* training. I have a Trek Alpha 2.1 which is pretty decent, as well as a great saddle that never hurts.
In terms of the day itself, what are your Top 5 tips to make it less horrific than it would otherwise be?
1) It's not a race, it's a sportive.
2) Eat something every hour.
3) Ride 80% of the distance, on similar terrain, before the big day.
4) Be prepared for all sorts of weather.
5) See point (1)
Enjoy yourself, 50 miles isn't so far as to be potentially horrible, just keep turning the pedals.
be bold: start cold.
Right - 50 miles in that terrain you're looking at 4 hours? Why not aim for a Silver? 3h50m?
This is my checklist for bigger events like La Marmotte:
1. Clothing: Keep your eye on the weather in the week leading up to the event. If it looks mixed on the day take everything you own and make a decision as late as possible. Don't use brand new clothes you've never worn before and set off wearing one layer too cold - you'll soon warm up (unless its cold rain or sleet)
2. Food & Drink: Power bars, drinks and gels for the ride - sip and nibble little bits but often. I always take something savoury wrapped in tinfoil for a special treat to counteract all the sugary shit. Ham and cream cheese on brown bread works for me.
3. Etiquette: On the flat try to get in a bunch and get a rest by drafting. BUT, every now and again try to come through to the front to show your face and do a small stint to keep everyone happy. it doesn't have to be a massive effort.
4. Registration: Is it possible to do this beforehand, preferabley the day before? I hate sorting numbers and timing chips out in the morning of an event. If not get there early - I hate sitting in the car on the minutes and missing a short warm up ride because i messed up with the drive there.
5. Check out if there's anywhere to have a dump close to the start line. Not always as easy as it sounds and I ALWAYS need one.
Don't forget pre-race stuff though. Make sure your bike is tip top, check out the best way to drive to the event. Tool kit etc should be prepared well in advance.
If all else fails and you mess something up - RULE 5.
Looks like a great circuit. Don't go to hard on the Snake and save something for Holme Moss.
As TtT said, it's not a race.
Don't treat it like one.
You'll spend too much energy trying to keep up with a bunch that's a fraction too fast.
Set your target time and ride to that.
Pace yourself, which is difficult if, as you say, you've not done much.
Eat small amounts often and stick your empty gel/bar wrappers up the leg of your shorts. That way you don't accidentally pull them out of your pocket with the next gel.
There's nothing worse than the trail of empty wrappers littering the route of sportives.
I swear by clif Shot Blox - very tasty, but also nice chewy texture. A couple of packets should do you fine, but make sure you try them first, to make sure they don't disagree with you.
Re Enty and point 5. I found red bull had quite a dramatic effect on me, which actually worked quite well when I did a 12 hour ride, but could have been nasty had I not found the toilet before the start !
Good shorts and plenty of chamois cream are also a good idea
Ewwww, you really do that?
It's no stickier than stuffing them in a pocket.
50 miles doesn't sound too far but I know some of them are BIG hills! Probably just having ridden similar distances a number times before will be the biggest preparation. That will give you some idea of your average speed. If there are timed groups in your ride I reckon you can add on a couple of kmph to your average speed alone and you'll still find it easier because being in a group makes such a big difference. I have to push really hard and have good conditions for me to do 60 kms in 2 hrs for example (hard enough that sometime I'll try and fail even when I've been doing a decent amount of riding) but when I did the Tour de Helsinki (big sportive so loads of groups to ride with) a couple of years ago I got in the 32 kmph and did the 150 kms of the ride at that average speed and it felt fine, actually easy enough that I was thinking next time to try and add another couple of kmph to the average. The first time I did the same sportive http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/2010/09/tour-de-helsinki-2010.html we sort of messed up which group we were going to ride with and ended up riding with smaller less organised groups and were considerably slower as a result despite being probably just as fit - so organisation is important.
Try and enjoy the views - that's another top tip! I blogged about my first sportive here: http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/2010/06/kallaveden-kierros-tour-de-kallavesi.html
<That's the sound of me doing a big sigh and thinking about giving UKC a rest for a while>
make sure youve got the right amount of drink unless there are refill points on the way
Will you be doing the steep uppy-downy bits by strines reservoir? If so, don't underestimate them - I found them to be more draining than Snake Pass and Holme Moss when I did them the other week.
Don't be surprised if there aren't many big bunches to hide in on a route like that - the climbs tend to separate people out and there's not much flat ground to regroup. Just keep yourself at a comfortable pace and keep fed & watered - time spent slowing down to swallow that flapjack will pay off later in the ride.
Everyone else has pretty much covered it, but I'd just add that it's good to say hello to other riders and get chatting a bit - they'll be more willing to ride with you and give you a tow when the going gets tough and you'll enjoy it a lot more with a bit of camaraderie.
Also, those are some big climbs, so pace yourself up them. Put it in a low gear and don't blow up early on - if you have excess energy later on, you can always put more effort in then.
See you then
I'm with you on that one. I'm glad you've just given me the sign. I doubt he'll (she'll?) understand but I do. See you back here in a few months.
I did almost all my racing in time trials, up to 12 hour events. Simply a matter of getting into a steady pace you can hold. In the few group events I rode it was more difficult to constantly change pace to match a series of other peoples' surges. But it is only a sportive - perhaps a little like a club training ride! - so resist the temptation to 'go' with every attempt to liven the pace. I imagine you will meld with a smaller group happy at a particular pace. Might have been sensible to try your first event on flatter terrain though.
Yep, those Strines sections are quite tough I've heard and that's part of the route. I will take plenty of flapjack!
Thanks to everyone else for your advice. I know I should have chosen a simpler one for my first ride, but there you go.
First sportive advice:
Check your bike and tyres beforehand - there's nothing sadder than someone wrestling with a mechanical in the first few hundred metres as everyone else blasts past.
Don't get over-excited at the start. If it's anything like continental sportives with a mass start it'll go off like a rocket.
Don't get over-excited on the climbs - blowing up and walking is no fun.
Don't get over-excited on the descents - crashing out is even less fun.
Don't be surprised if you end up on your own - things spread out a lot in the bottom half of the field.
Hope you enjoy it, big timed events through beautiful countryside are great fun.
+1 for gels up the short leg, nothing worse than the drips in your pocket.
In addition to what others have said (especially it's a sportive not a race), Holme Moss and Snake Pass are steady climbs, get in a gear you are comfortable with at the bottom and just spin steadily away. Don't be tempted to think "this is easy" and push too hard at the foot of the hill. Actually the steepest bit of Holme Moss is the first 200m and it then eases for a good while before the official climb starts.
Strines is a different matter, Lots of short steep climbs, no chance to get in to a rhythm.
Getting in to a group can really help - I did the Ripon sportive last year, the last 20 miles was in to a headwind, a couple of groups went past but they were too quick, the third group was just a little faster, it took two miles to get on to them but it was worth it as we then worked together and I managed a gold time
I am not a racer... just a regular leisure cyclist punter. Be careful if you are not used to riding in a group. I did the new forest sportive a couple of years ago as my first sportive and got in a group doing a fair clip. I started to get a bit edgy in the group and as I was looking around to see if someone was on my wheel so that I could let them pass and drop off the group I clipped the wheel of the guy in front of me and went off the road over the handlebars. Fortunately no injuries to myself and even moreso I didn't take anyone with me, especially the guy I clipped. Regular food intake and be proficient with repairs even puncture repair. The sportive above was in early march and it was perishing. I had two punctures on the route and got really cold fixing the first one because my hands were so cold it took ages. Other than all of the above, pace yourself, dont blow up by going too hard too soon. Enjoy it!
I did the half hog as my first sportive last year, it was bloody hard! but good fun and i got round.
The strines were a bugger and i ran out of energy by holme moss - then it started hailing on the descent which was pretty grim.
Its all character building though! Enjoy!
I do that run every now and then from my gaffe. Get a pint in at the Ladybower and one at the Nook. Take a sandwich.
Better still, put them down the back of your shorts and get an energy gel enema!!!
Might not be a problem where you are, but round here: dig out all the tiny bits of flint which bury themselves in the tyres and which eventually lead to punctures.
What's the difference between a Sportive and an Audax?
Sportivers pretend they're racing,
Audaxers pretend they're not.
Real advice: If you hit the wall, drink coke. It's always worked for me.
When I did my first sportive last year (a reasonable sized alpine one, i'd never ridden one hill like there were in the route let alone 3!) my way more experienced friend gave me a couple ibufrofens just before the start. She always tucks a couple up one of the legs of her shorts for when things get a bit sore. I was horrified, but took them and then duly forgot. After an hour in an enormous hail and thunderstorm Alps style they had disintegrated anyway but if you are short on time in the saddle it might be a good way to help get around.
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