Tour de France and Olympic success last year has attracted thousands of new UK riders to experience the joys of cycling. And many riders will be tackling their first sportive too.
The biggest of all this year will be the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, in which more than 20,000 riders will tackle a 100-mile, leg-testing ride from the centre of the capital out into the picturesque Surrey hills on 4 August. Skoda, the official car sponsor of RideLondon, kicked off a series of training camps around the country earlier this month for riders gearing up for the big day.
With about 100 days to go until London goes bike mad, many will be dusting off their bikes and starting training this weekend. BikeRadar has some top tips if you’re getting out this weekend on your first training ride.
If your bike’s been on the shed, chances are it’ll need a good wash and lube. Check out our handy guide to get your drivetrain running silently, smoothly and efficiently.
Check your brakes to ensure they’re not worn out and the pads are aligned correctly with the rims. The blocks should be slightly toed in at the front so that the block closes on the rim correctly and doesn’t cause any squealing. This correction will improve performance and should give you more conﬁdence when descending. We’ve got another guide to checking your brakes here, but if you’re not sure, visit a bike shop for advice.
Getting in gear
Check your gear ratios. Is the cassette right for your style of riding and the terrain you cover? The right gearing will improve enjoyment of a ride and a larger sprocket will help you climb a little faster. Those Surrey hills can be mean, too. If you do decide to change your cassette for something a little easier lighter, it’s best to take advice from your local bike shop to ensure your cassette is compatible with your rear derailleur and that your chain doesn’t need to be replaced.
When you’re riding long distances, your closest friend should be the seatpad of your shorts. Find a pair in which you feel comfortable and ones where the seatpad doesn’t move around, causing chafing. Think about using a chamois cream, too, which will cut down friction and soreness. And of course, wash your shorts after every use.
It’s not always going to be possible for many entrants for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, but if you get a chance to check out the route and some of its climbs it’ll be time well spent. You’ll know where you can push yourself, where you can take a breather and feel more confident when you ride the roads in the real thing.