How to ride your best sportive ever
On board view at the start of the Velothon cycling gran fondo.

19th November 2014, By Richard Rollinson

Discover some smart ways to make your sportive or gran fondo experience more enjoyable by making smart choices that could also get you to complete the distance in your fastest ever time.


Goal set early choose your group

This can be key to how your chosen sportive may play out for you. Chances are you will be looking to either be completing a distance you have never done before, or aiming to better your previous time for the same distance.

Of course you want to choose the correct group to match your ability or goal finishing time.  Although, there are some considerations further to this. If you pick a group that could push you a little bit further than what you had previously been capable, this can lead to new heights that you may never have thought possible. The flip side to this is that this can be demoralising if not matched to your ability. However, falling back one or two groups to find one that matches your sustainable pace can be a worthwhile strategy.

Choosing a group that ends up being just below your ability could still help you around well enough if your aim is just to finish. However, being stuck in a group when you know you are capable of going much faster can be frustrating and could end up costing you your goal time.  It is much easier to move back through groups than to try to move to the next one up the road.  The latter also costs you more time.

Coach Richard Rollinson on the start line of the Velothon cycling gran fondo.

Picking the right start group can make all the difference to your day

Time crunched cyclist

For the time crunched cyclist, don't just aim to increase the volume of your training. Increase the bang for buck out of your training time by increasing your training stress. Training Peaks users may know this as "TSS". Strava users might know this as "Suffer score". By increasing intensity, you can maximise the training effect to resemble a similar training score of a longer workout.

Build and recover

We know how important it is to train. If you do not ride, how can you expect to ride further or faster?

However, equally important is to recover. This is as specific as training itself. Too little of it and you will be too overloaded to see the true benefits of the training you have done. Too much and your training will not build significantly enough to complete the distance you are training to or the faster time you are aiming to achieve. Get the balance and timing right and you should see the potential of all the time and hard work you have put in.

Don’t step it up too late

Aim to complete your longest training ride duration to around 75% of the sportive distance you are training for. However, do not be tempted to build up to this too close to your goal event.

Pacing on the day

Some sort of pacing strategy will more likely work better than none. If you are just aiming to complete the distance; firstly do not underestimate your task ahead. Work out, or consult with a coach what is a sustainable , realistic speed to keep that gives you the best chance of finishing.

If you are a power meter user; use this to your advantage by understanding what is a sustainable average wattage. Consideration should also be made for how many times you are able to go into the red and for how long. Assess this through your data uploads or you may choose to consult with a coach to take some guesswork out of this.

Good luck for whichever sportive you plan to complete this season.

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