Whether you’re thinking about doing your first sportive or have already participated in many and just want to get better, professional cycling coach Ben Wilson offers some tips to prepare you and your bike for the next event.
Use your head
Riding a sportive with others is a more enjoyable and more efficient way to ride big distances — here’s how…
Take a break
Put the bike away for just a week or two and don’t ride. This is especially important if you’ve done a lot of intensive riding in the summer or you’re feeling tired and lacking in motivation. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so after your break you’ll be excited to ride again.
Take an honest look back at your previous sportive season and identify any areas of weakness that you would like to work on. If you found hills a struggle or couldn’t maintain a steady pace in events, then use the winter to improve these areas so that you’ve nailed them come the new sportive season.
A great way to stay motivated when the weather is a bit grim is to set targets and enter events for next year. Some of the more popular events sell out quickly so get yourself organised and set your 2019 goals right now.
Ace the base
Over autumn and winter, concentrate on long, steady miles to build a base and add in high-intensity work to keep yourself sharp. One long ride a week is plenty for most, but if you’re only used to riding 20 miles, look at steadily increasing the mileage or duration of your long ride by no more than 10 percent at a time, until you reach the distance of your first goal event.
Get your bike sportive-ready
Your bike will take a battering on wet roads, so remember to keep it in top shape. Here’s how:
Keep it clean
With brushes, sponges and warm soapy water, clean the tyres and wheels then move to the top of the bike and work south. Use a spray-on degreaser such as Muc-Off on greasy parts and rinse off with clean water.
Check your chain
Regularly clean the chain in-situ using a chain-cleaning tool and use a top-quality wet lube to lube the chain rollers. It’s important to check the chain after wet rides and reapply lube if it looks like it has been washed away.
Get the right tyres
Fit heavier, more hard-wearing tyres for autumn and winter — ones with added puncture protection are good. Regularly check treads for flints or embedded glass to avoid slow punctures.
Check your cables
Winter can be hard on the derailleur and brake cables. Check the outers for kinks and replace where necessary. Be sparing with lube where the inner cables enter the outers, as this can attract extra unwanted dirt.
Check your brakes
Regularly check your brake pads for wear and also make sure you check them for embedded grit. Regularly clean your rims — this will reduce both pad and rim wear and will also improve the efficiency of your brakes.
- UK readers: can you help us get more people on bikes? Whether you’re a keen cyclist or a complete beginner, we’d love you to get involved in our Get Britain Riding campaign, in association with B’Twin. Click here to sign up!