Cycle Training for Triathlon – Try a Sportive!
Trying to get more cycling into your training? Looking for a fun cycling event or a big biking challenge? Want to ride more, but just don’t know where to start? Why not try a cycle sportive?
What is a cycle sportive?
A cycle sportive is an organised group ride, varying in size, length and degree of difficulty. Most sportives offer well-signed courses (allowing you to enjoy the ride without worrying about navigation), a range of course distances, and well-stocked feed stations (with a selection of energy-boosting snacks, varying from standard gels and drinks to home-baked cakes).
Cycle sportives typically assign a number and timing chip to each rider, so it is possible to keep track of your timing. However unlike a cycle race, the starts are staggered and more casual, and riders race against the clock (or just enjoy a great ride, without the pressures of racing against anything!)
Am I fit enough?
The beauty of cycle sportives is in their variety. Rides range from around 12 flat miles to 150+ miles of hills. If you’re thinking about riding in a cycle sportive, think about what you hope to achieve for the day. Want to challenge yourself with your longest ride yet? Hope to hit the hills to test your muscles? Just want to get over the fear of riding your bike on an open road course?
The best way to determine which ride is right for you is with British Cycling‘s new sportive grading system. Rides are ranked on a scale of one to five. Here’s what the numbers mean:
- Grade 1 – Moderate: Grade 1 routes are great if you are new to cycling as these routes are usually shorter and flatter.
- Grade 2 – Challenging: If you are new to cycling but want a challenge, Grade 2 routes will offer a rolling route with some challenging aspects.
- Grade 3 – Difficult: If you are a regular cyclist and looking for a challenging event that won’t break the legs a Grade 3 is the event for you. Usually around 3000 – 4000 ft of climbing over a middle distance route.
- Grade 4 – Hard: Grade 4 events are for regular, experienced cyclists. Typically routes of a longer distance with challenging climbs included. Training for Grade 4 events is recommended.
- Grade 5 – Very Hard: Grade 5 routes are not for the faint hearted. They will include very hard climbs, usally over a longer distance. It is recommended to train for events such as these to ensure you are fully prepared. Only a handful of events will have a Grade 5.
Still worried that you’re not up to the challenge? British Cycling also has a variety of training plans to get you ready to complete a Grade 1 or smash a Grade 5.
Where can I find a cycle sportive?
Cycle sportives range from huge, sold-out events organised by Evans Cycles and Wiggle, to smaller events held by cycling clubs and grass roots cycling groups. Evans even has a special 3-for-2 promotion for riders who want to challenge themselves throughout the season.
The most comprehensive cycle sportive calendar is (again) provided by British Cycling. They have divided rides into two calendar groups- the sportive calendar and the non-competitive calendar, though it is definitely worth taking a look at both as most sportives welcome riders of all standards. You can filter by region, difficulty level, and date range, so you can easily find exactly the ride you’re looking for! Cyclosport also has a comprehensive world-wide calendar as well as reviews and blogs to help you choose your event.
With all of these amazing rides in beautiful and challenging places throughout the country, there is the perfect ride in a location that is right for you.