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Get out and Ride- The Sportive Season Is Here



There's nothing better than getting out on your bike a few mates, well imagine getting out on your bike with hundreds of mates on some of the UK's best routes and having food stops and emergency bike support thrown in for good measure. The Cyclosportive season is upon us once again and frankly, there's no better way of seeing what group cycling has to offer than taking part in one of these non-competitive events.

Sportives aren't races, there's no prize for crossing the line first. You can go at your own pace, however fast or slow that is. There are usually multiple route length options that cater for inexperienced, experienced and seasoned cyclists. Food and drink stops are usually laid on at regular intervals around the route and there's always tech support should you need it to get out of a sticky bike situation.

Sportives have been taking place for years, but their popularity has boomed as cycling participation has skyrocketed over the past five years. You'll now find sportive events all over the country, with distances from thirty to well over a hundred miles. Whether you like to take in the countryside via the best rolling roads or prefer to test yourself on more vertically challenging routes you're sure to be able to find the perfect sportive for you and your friends. Sportives are all about group participation

British Cycling has a great page on Cyclosportives, head on over to the British Cycling Website for more info, they have a great search tool that allows you to look through all of the UK Sportive events and filter them according to location, distance and a host of other features. If you're local to Sheffield and feel like attempting your first sportive ride this year you could do a whole lot worse than sign up for the Holme Moss Classic. This 46 or 65-mile sportive rolls out of Magna on the 17th September and is suitable for any cyclist who isn't afraid of a few hills. Why not kill two birds with one stone and get yourself sponsored the event, raise some money for Cystic Fibrosis causes and have a great time with your bike buddies. With up to 6000 feet of climbing on the longer route, the Holme Moss Classic is a true challenge. 

Preparing yourself for your first sportive shouldn't be too hard. You'll need to get a few miles in your legs, ideally over the course distance that you are attempting. Several hours in the saddle is something that you should condition your body for, if you're a regular cyclist already then you'll find it no trouble at all. If you're new to cycling then maybe we can help you a little with some tips and tricks.

Equipment:

Even though there's probably going to be tech support on hand for those emergencies it makes sense to prepare your bike so that you know it's in tip-top condition. At the very least we'd recommend that you check your bike over and ensure that everything is working fine. Replace and worn or frayed cables. Stick new brake pads in your calipers if you haven't changed them in the past six months. Check that your saddle height is correct and that all your nuts and bolts are tightened correctly. Check that your chain isn't excessively worn, we do an inexpensive Jobsworth Chain Checker that's perfect for the job and makes a sensible additional to any cyclist's toolbox.

You're going to putting in a lot of miles in a single session so we'd also make sure to go over your tyres, inspecting the tread and sidewalls for nicks and cuts and replacing if required. While you're looking at your wheels it makes sense to check your spoke tension and true your wheels to straighten any wobbly rims. If any of this sounds like too much work then take your bike into your local bike shop and ask them to give it a pre-sportive check over, they'll know what to look for and you get the assurance of knowing that it's been a job well done. No one wants to be 'that guy' carried along on the broom wagon because he came to ride on a bike that wasn't fit for the task.

On the day of the event, you're going to need to take a small toolkit with you. No one expects you to carry a full tool chest with you but you should be able to take care of simple road-side repairs, adjustment, and the inevitable tyre/ inner tube repair. Tankita does an excellent range of 'Bottle Boxes' that fit into a bottle cage on your bike but let you carry essential tools and spares. There's already a couple of suggested bundles for you to try depending on what bike you're riding, skinny tyred roady or slightly bigger treaded gravel adventure. If a toolbox doesn't float your boat and you prefer the more traditional approach then we have a large range of 'Saddle Bags' that'll swallow up all the items you might need on a day out on the bike.

Preparation:

Most Sportives tend to be between 20 -100 miles. If you're considering doing a greater distance than you've ever ridden before then it makes sense to train up to it, you wouldn't run a marathon without building up to it- would you? We usually like to start building up to an event 6 weeks beforehand. Start cycling more regularly, start off with a distance that you feel comfortable and aim to build up to the full distance a week before the event. That way you can get the full event distance in your legs before the event and still have a full week to recover and taper down your mileage.

If your ride is going to be longer than 60 minutes duration then you should consider your nutritional needs. Don't rely on being able to take in enough nutrition during the brief food stops. You need to be topping up your calories constantly during the event to keep your engine running smoothly. If your sportive is going to be longer than two hours in the saddle then figure on needing to take onboard about 300-400 calories per hour along with a minimum of 500ml of liquid per hour. Isotonic gels are a perfect way of carrying compact calories.

Of course, you don't just need to consider what fuel you're putting in the top, you're probably going to need to spend some time thinking about your contact points as well. Gloves or Mitts are essential depending on the time of year and now might be a good time to take a look at your shoes as well. A good fitting pair of shoes are essential for longer rides, you don't want any tight spots that will rub and cause blisters. While you're thinking about your shoes it's probably time to consider a couple of new pairs of Socks as well. if you want the very best socks that we have to offer then look no further than our Carnac Primaloft Silk, Argyle, Merino and Niner socks.


Whatever your plans are for riding this season we wish you all the best. There are literally hundreds of Cyclosportive events held all around the country and you're sure to be able to find one close to you that offers exactly the tpe of riding experience that you need. Join in with your friends and get out there and ride. Sportives are perfect for cyclists of all ages, fitness levels and of any experience. Set yourself some new goals and get out there and ride.

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