I've done my first sportive ... Now what?

Why time trialling is a good way to start racing

So, you committed to riding your first sportive, and you went the distance. Excellent! But what now?

Well, while there is merit to having a break after a period of solid training, the summer is just about to begin and it seems a waste to lose that hard earned fitness.

Once winter is here, it won’t be quite so easy to stay motivated to train as much, so my advice is not to stop but rather to keep on truckin’! 

Cycling fitness is easily lost so why make it hard to regain by only riding for four to six months of the year? Fitness can be improved on year by year, provided you train regularly and consistently.

Time for a different kind of trial

How about trying your hand at a local time trial? Time trials are great events for newer riders. Basically you enter (usually for a modest fee), sign on, pin a race number on your back, leave the designated starting point at a specified time and ride to the finish as quickly as you can. 

Riders depart at set intervals, usually one minute apart. Events often start and finish at the same place, either as an out-and-back or a loop style of course. They can be flat or hilly. Course distances do vary, but TTs run by local clubs are typically 10, 25 and 50 miles in length.

You might be thinking, “Am I good enough?” Everyone is good enough. If you can ride 10 miles, you can ride a time trial. So get out there and have a go.

There's no need to worry about riding in a bunch. Courses are often marshalled and most clubs will welcome new riders who want to have a go. In some cases you’ll need to be registered or have a racing license so talk to the local club in your area and find out what the requirements are.

And you don’t need a fancy time trial rig in order to enter; just your everyday bike is fine. You are, after all, really just racing against yourself. Once you've set a time, you have a benchmark and can starting working out how to ride faster next time.

Before you know it, you’ll be hooked and be listening to all the other “testers” about their PBs, what training they do, and so on.

And the best thing about riding time trials is they are tremendous for developing your fitness. That and for those fleeting moments where you can dream about being Fabian Cancellara!

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