First Sportive in March. Any training tips or advice

by stepho   November 23, 2012  

I will be doing my first sportive in march (Kendal)

Its a fair step up to what i have been doing and was wondering if anyone has any training tips, advice or knowledge that they wouldn't mind passing on.

Cheers in advance


11 user comments

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Don't bother with Sportives, Audax is the way to go!!

Check out Deacon Blue's drummer Dougie Vipond on this wee hilly ride!

posted by DaveCrampton [3 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 16:11

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there are lots of things along these lines out there helping you to prepare for your first big ride, whether a sportive, an audax or just a challenge you set yourself.
Have fun.

posted by andyp [1371 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 16:22

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Really good article thanks for that.

posted by stepho [102 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 16:35

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You don't say how much you're currently doing and how far the sportive is so I'm assuming you're not biting off more than you can chew. My tips in no particular order would be:

1. work out a realistic pace for the full distance and stick to it, at least initially. If you've got gas in the tank for the last bit then by all means speed up. Bear in mind you might be riding alone for a long period, it might be very windy or wet, might be more climbing than you thought etc. Kendal is going to be hilly so pacing will be key;
2. start eating early and keep at it with small amounts at regular intervals - bonking comes on without any warning and it's no fun;
3. keep drinking little and often, even if you don't think you're thirsty;
4. don't assume that there will be food at feedstops so take sufficient with you. If there is plenty of food at feedstops then that's a bonus;
5. take a variety of things to eat so you don't get bored. I keep a Zipvit 7c gel in reserve - I was very glad of this when I was shattered on my sportive in May and found that the last feedstop at 77 miles had run out of food (see point 4 above) as it got me home comfortably. Do try any gel before the big day though to make sure you like it and it doesn't give you the trots;
5. learn to open your food with one hand and your mouth;
6. make sure your bike is clean and lubed so you minimise the chance of mechanicals;
7. make sure you've got pump, patches, spare tubes etc. No doubt there'll be mechanical assistance but it might take a long time to get to you and their spares will probably be a lot more expensive than your LBS;
8. enjoy it and let us know how you get on.

Hope that's useful.

posted by Sadly Biggins [271 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 17:10

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Thanks very much for some excellent advice. I have done a few 50+ runs and where i live the carrick hills can be quite challenging though im under no illusions about the step up.
My feeding regime is pretty sound and i have no problem one hand munching on the move, i normally always have too much food with me.

My brother and i will be doing it together and we are of very similiar ability so we can hopefully pull each other along.

My main concern will be the riding in a group malarkey, i have only ever ridden with one or two people so im unsure if my riding style may be a bit erratic. i guess i will just have to practice.

cheers again for the great advice

posted by stepho [102 posts]
23rd November 2012 - 17:54

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Stepho - I've only done two sportives which were this summer at 60ish miles each. Before the first one, the furthest I had ridden was 33 miles, but a friend advised (like above) calculate a pace you know you can do and stick to it, let the faster ones overtake you! Then later on, towards the end crank it up a bit if you can.

I was worried initially about group riding, but I was pleasantly surprised how quick the riders thin out, so it was not a problem. I also got some tips from the riders around me at the beginning who were friendly enough. Good luck and enjoy.

Comrade's picture

posted by Comrade [196 posts]
24th November 2012 - 8:02


Cheers comrade.
Im very much looking forward to it and hopefully my excitement and adrenaline wont make me push too hard at the start. I think it is around the 75 mile mark so i plan (as recommended) to keep a nice steady pace and then maybe up it towards the end if im feeling brave.

It's a great motivation to keep riding through the winter so it looks like a few wet gruelling runs for me these next few months but its all good.

My new bike is being built and i should have that in a couple of weeks (very exciting) so i have a feeling 2013 will be a very high mileage year for me.

Thanks again for the great advice

posted by stepho [102 posts]
24th November 2012 - 10:39

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I posted something similar a few months ago and got some useful advice:

Extra tips...
-Smile/pout for the photographs.
-Chat to the riders around you.
-Have savory food waiting at the end (MrsBLH did well here waiting for me with a couple of pasties).

Good luck

posted by MrBLH [32 posts]
26th November 2012 - 14:18

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Nice one Ben and belated congratulations on a great time.

I have got hold of a 12 week training plan so im hoping to be ready for it.

Savoury food and beer at the finish Devil

posted by stepho [102 posts]
26th November 2012 - 17:51

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In the spirit of Keep It Simple . . .

Don't worry too much about training plans and sessions and intervals and all that nonsense.
Your base endurance fitness is nothing like it could be (believe me!) so just go out and get in those steady 2 or 3 hours in the saddle at a HR Zone 2 pace (you should be able to chat away with your ride companions).

Start the event at the pace you can maintain for the distance you are riding. If you feel good then pick up the pace in the last couple of hours. You will overtake everyone who went out too fast.

If you find yourself riding with others :-
Ride in a straight line at a steady pace.

+1 to the comment about Audax being the way to go.

Gravity - it won't let you down.

bigmel's picture

posted by bigmel [105 posts]
27th November 2012 - 12:21

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Thanks for the advice bigmel.

Totally agree with just getting on the bike and putting the miles in, only thing is i work offshore on an oil rig so for my 2 weeks out here intervals on the turbo trainer is my only option.


posted by stepho [102 posts]
27th November 2012 - 14:12

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