Tips for riding your first sportive


First class advice for those uninitiated into the world of long distance, mass participation cycling events

With the Prudential Ride London quickly approaching, many of you will either be riding it or be signed up to a similar long-distance ride sometime throughout the summer. If you’re new to the world of long-distance sportive rides, you’ll want to cast an eye over our top 7 tips for riding your first one. 

1. Get the miles in beforehand

Whatever the distance you’ve selected to ride, it is important to know what it feels like to ride that far before the sportive itself. It’s recommended that you get at least one ride in before the event that is close to the distance of the sportive. This is useful for a few reasons:

  • It will teach you how your body reacts to fuelling over a longer distance, so when you head into the sportive you’ll have an idea of when you will be needing to fuel and how much you need to take on.
  • It will give your body one opportunity to find out what the strains are going to be when riding the distance (or close to) of the sportive.
  • Riding longer distances but at a lower intensity will give you the stamina needed to complete the sportive. 
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2. Make sure you learn to ride clipless 

Riding clipless is something that most road cyclists will adopt early on in their cycling career, however if you’re yet to join the cleat party, it’s good idea that you learn how to use them before your sportive. Riding cleated shoes will enable you to pull up as well as push up on the pedals giving you a far more powerful pedal stroke. Clipless pedals will also secure your shoe so there is little or no chance of your feet coming off the pedals mid ride. 

3. Join a club 

Sometimes riding alone can be liberating and allow you to be present in your thoughts for a couple of hours. Other times it can be hard to find the motivation to get out on the road. It’s a good idea to find a local cycling club to you and join it. This puts you amongst friendly, likeminded cyclists of varying abilities and give you the motivation to get out on that Sunday morning ride and get the miles in.


It will also give you the opportunity to absorb some knowledge from other cyclists. You might learn something very useful indeed along the way that will help you in your sportive or elsewhere in your cycling. 

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4. Look to the hills 

The sportive organisers will work hard to create the best possible route that takes into account a variety of types of riding to make sure there is something for everyone. Therefore, the route will inevitably include some hills to negotiate, and the best way to be ready for them is to ride some! Spend some time scouting out a few nearby hills of varying gradient and length and do some reps once you’re warmed up. This will increase your ability at attacking hills and get you used to doing multiple hills in one ride. 

5. Practice descending 

It might sound like the easier bit, but descending is something that you need to make space for in your training plan. The ability to descend safely is vital for your first sportive as you’ll be going downhill in a group of people and this can produce some potentially dangerous situations. Spending some time practicing your descending skills will put you in good stead when it comes to the downhills of your sportive. 

6. Know your bike… and the route 

To ensure you’re ready for all eventualities on the ride, it is a good idea to spend some time getting to know your bike throughout your training regime. Minor mechanicals that might arise during the sportive including puncture repairs and brake adjustments need to be sorted on the roadside relatively quickly, so this type of knowledge is important. 

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7.  Fuel yourself 

On the day of the sportive itself, it is obviously very important to fuel yourself correctly to sustain your body throughout the ride. Your breakfast needs to contain slow-burning carbs, for example whole grains, to give you a slow burn of energy throughout the day. Hydration is again important in the morning, and throughout the ride. You will also want to fuel throughout the sportive, utilising the feed stations and stops to get the carbs you need to sustain your body throughout the day. 

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