Three top tips to nail a long distance sportive

How to prepare for long rides

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Summer’s here and the sportive season is in full swing. That means tens of thousands of us packing our bikes into cars and heading to picturesque corners of the UK to test ourselves against the road and the clock. Nothing beats the thrill of riding with hundreds of others in a spectacular landscape while pushing your body to the limits. But to really enjoy it, and to make sure the day doesn’t end with a hunger knock, mechanical or simple exhaustion, preparation is always key. In fact, it’s more important than ever as organisers make gran fondos harder and hillier than ever. For instance next month sees the launch of the Devil Dragon Ride - a 300km (180mile) sportive in South Wales.  

With distances increasing and organisers determined to pack as much climbing into their loops as possible, it’s essential you begin your adventure with the all-new Mazda3, which blends exceptional efficiency and performance with its SKYACTIV Technology. Once your journey starts, take note of our top three tips for nailing an ultra-long distance sportive this year.  

Training – follow a training plan

It’s not rocket science but the key to riding long distance is great preparation and putting the miles in before the big day. Endurance is all, so building up a good base will ensure you’ve got the stamina to go the distance. Time spent in the saddle doesn’t just build up muscles used for cycling, it also fine tunes your body’s efficiency.

However for most people nowadays, time is of the essence – we can’t disappear for five or six hour rides twice a week – so the best way for busy riders to prepare for a lengthy ride is to follow a find a training plan that works for them and stick to it.  In other words, train smart. There are plenty of training plans out there – just make sure you choose one that’s suited to your level of cycling.

Gear – maintain your bike

Making sure your gear is prepped will help avoid any mechanical mishaps spoiling your ride. A well set up bike will make the experience more comfortable. And regular maintenance and cleaning is key: a sparkling, well-looked after bike not only looks the business, it will also mean you will be keeping an eye on components for wear and making sure your gearing and brakes remain perfectly dialled. Well maintained equipment is better than poorly looked after expensive stuff.

Maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean loads of trips to the bike shop either. Bikes are fairly simple pieces of kit and there are plenty of online guides – check out BikeRadar’s growing number of how-to videos – to help you solve any niggling mechanical worries. A top tip though is to give your bike a test ride after any maintenance to ensure everything is working fine before the big day.

Nutrition – practice eating and riding

Staying well-hydrated and keeping energy levels topped up will ensure you avoid the dreaded bonk during the ride, which could mean you finish the ride in the broom wagon and not with a medal around your neck.

The key with in-event nutrition is to find the products and flavours that work for you during training and then stick to them during the events season. Rely on your taste buds. If you like the flavour you’re more likely to reach for them in a ride.

Learn to sip and nibble while cycling. Taking on fluids, opening an energy bar or gel feels awkward to start with, but the more confident and competent you get means you’re more likely to eat and drink more regularly – and that means you get the nutrition your body needs in a constant stream.

As aforementioned, every ride needs the ultimate support vehicle and the all-new Mazda3 is that recommended option, having been built to perform as brilliantly as it looks. Embracing both Hatchback and Fastback bodystyles, a choice of SKYACTIV-G petrol and SKYACTIV-D diesel engines, which deliver on both performance and efficiency, the all-new Mazda3 on-the-road (OTR) prices start at £16,695.

Inside its cabin, the low-slung, sporty yet supportive seats mean motorists feel instantly connected to the car and in tune with the road ahead. Award-winning, eye-catching design and a wealth of state-of-the-art in-car technology make driving the all-new Mazda3 an experience you’ll want to have every day, especially before you cycle to terrains currently unconquered.

For more information on the all-new Mazda3, please click here

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