As we edge ever closer to spring, the thought of long, warm weather rides and sunny sportives become almost an obsession.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with sportives, for a small fee, you can ride on quiet, signposted routes through some of the most idyllic roads in the UK.
Nearly all events have a selection of routes and distances to choose from, which are bases on ability and fitness.
The majority will have changing facilities and feed stations (en route), time chips and goodie bags will be provided to every rider as well as masseurs and warm showers to greet you when you return.
Your safety is also a priority; with trained mechanics on hand should any bike complications arise and a broom wagon to pick anyone up who is lagging behind. From the moment you pull into the car park to when you are sipping on your recovery drink, you truly are taken care of – a reason why sportives are so popular.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the proper precautions. While our cycling policy fully covers you during any sportive should an accident arise, there is a lot you can do to minimise risks and ensure you are as safe as can be at all times.
Here is what every sportive rider should have in their kit bag. Follow this advice and you’ll be ready for whatever is thrown your way, whether it’s saddle sores, sunburn or a flat tyre.
1) Shoes and helmets: All sportives have a ‘no helmet, no ride’ policy. Even if you don’t wear one normally, you will have to if you want to enter a sportive.
2) Correct clothing: While the weather forecast can be a reasonable indicator of what clothing to wear during your sportive, sometimes, the experts can get it wrong. To avoid being caught in sudden downpours or gale force winds, make sure you have knee and arm warmers, a gilet and a windproof in addition to all your other kit.
3) Warm clothes: A lot of cyclists forget to take with them a spare pair of kit and have to drive home in their sweaty, wet cycling gear. Not only is it uncomfortable, but bacteria thrive in these conditions, which could increase the risk of saddle sores and other nasty rashes. Leave in the car a dry, clean pair of jogging bottoms, socks and a t-shirt.
4) Toiletries: Chamois cream, even if you don’t normally use it, can help with saddle comfort if you are planning on a long ride. Some sportives have shower facilities, so throw in a towel and some soap. If there aren’t any, wet wipes are very useful, to help clean your body and freshen you up. Some sportives last all day, and if it’s particularly warm, you will be spending many hours in the sun. Sunburn is a serious risk and affects a lot of cyclists. Always take sun cream with you. It’s also a good idea to bring along a first aid travel kit, which will help treat minor abrasions, cuts or sores.
5) Fuel: All sportives supply a good number of feed stations, but you shouldn’t rely solely on them. If you’re one of the last to set off, chances are the stations will be rather barren or stock food not to your taste. Now you’re in trouble – 40 miles from the finish with nothing to eat. Gels, drinks, bars and any other favourites can provide a lifeline if you start to feel tired.
6) Event information: Most events provide online event information. Print it off and give it a look over the day before. Yes, the course is signposted, but they can go ‘missing’ or fall off. Getting lost during a sportive is no fun at all and could add many extra miles onto your route. Some events offer a GPX file or other means of downloading maps to your GPS. A God send should you get lost. It’s also worth speaking with the organisers on the day to make sure there haven’t been any course changes.
7) Phone and wallet: If you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, with a flat tyre and no inner tube, there’s not much you can do. This is where your phone is so important, whether you’re calling a friend or a cab. It’s also important to have your wallet with you – cabs aren’t free – or if you desperately need a sugar boost from a local convenience store.
8) Spares: During a sportive, mechanicals can occur, and while many sportives have mechanics on hand to help, it’s always a good idea to have spares with you. Inner tubes, tyre levers and pump should never be forgotten.