How To Prep For Your First Sportive

You enrolled weeks ago but now it's finally here. If you’re participating in this weekend’s Birmingham Bikeathon (or in any other Sportive) you might find yourself fearing that you’ve ran out of time for the all essential preparations. Fear not, there’s still a few things you can do to significantly improve your performance on the day. 

Fuel Up

Make sure that the day before your sportive you eat well, really well. Minimise high sugar foods and max out on complex (slow release) carbs like rice and pasta. Now is not the time for an Atkins diet nor is it the time to begin experimenting with previously untested sports supplements. On the day of the ride try to eat a good breakfast at least 2 hours before your ride. Remember; you need time for digestion before you start riding. Porridge rules! 

Drink

I’ve talked about hydration elsewhere but let’s just be really clear. Hydration is not a luxury it’s a necessity. Drink plenty, drink before you ride and drink while you ride. DO NOT wait for the thirst sensation to kick in by which time it’s too late and your electrolyte imbalance is wreaking havoc with your body. Neither should you binge out on one or two massive drinks just before you ride, instead drink small amounts very frequently and remember NO alcohol before your ride. Even the smallest amount of alcohol will act to dehydrate your system and should be avoided. 

Sleep

Nothing beats a good kip so don’t let it.

The night before your Sportive is not the time to be  burning the candle. It’s also important that your body is allowed to recover so be sure to get some good shut eye the night after your ride or you’ll be struggling for the week ahead. Good sleep is not only important for your body’s physical preparation it will also help you to be mentally alert if you're doing either 50 or 100 miles the battle will be largely mental. 

  • Keep your sleeping room as dark as possible. 
  • Unwind before you go to bed.
  • Avoid eating immediately before going to bed.
  • Avoid TV and computers for at least two hours before going to bed. 

Enjoy

Remember that Sportive’s are by definition not competitive, they normally have a great sense of camaraderie and newbies will be welcomed with open arms. This is not a time to prove you’re better than the rest, nor is it a time to feel intimidated by others. A good ride is a ride you enjoy. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others and allow others to be kind to you.

Be Ready

I’ve talked about the 8 essentials elsewhere but for your Sportive these five items are really important. Spare inner tube x 2, micro pump, levers, plenty of fluids carried in the appropriate containers and easily accessible, antiseptic wipe x 4, race cape water proof. Note that all of these should easily fit in your jersey pocket. Some people (including me in other places) will argue there is wisdom in having a multitool. Most Sportives are now so well supported that if you need that levels of mechanical support there will be other people on hand to assist. 

If you forget anything, panic not we'll be on hand to sort you out. 

Enough with the talk. Go and enjoy!

If you’re riding the Birmingham Bikeathon we’ll see you there. Please do call over and say hello. You are the people who make sense of everything we do. While online entry is now closed you’re still able to register on the day. No excuses. Have a wonderful, wonderful time!