Sportives - mass participation cycling events - typically feature two key challenges: distance and hills.

Riders are very often attacking new and uncharted distances, and therefore long rides to boost endurance are pretty much a must. However, the vast majority of us only have time to complete a distance orientated ride once a week - jobs, children and busy lives in general tend to prevent us from heading out for three-hours-plus more regularly.

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One distance ride a week that gradually increases in length as your event draws closer should be enough provided your goal is a single day event, and you'll probably want an easy day either side to prepare and recover.

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On the other days, your sessions will likely need to be shorter to fit in around the obstacles of day to day life - one hour being a typical time slot allotted for the average rider. Those sessions would be well used to work on the other challenge sportives provide: hills.

Here's a look at a few quality sessions you can complete in an hour that will help you out when the inclines strike at your sportives this summer...

Endurance Hills

dunsmore-hill-climb-chilterns

The hills of sportives are more often than not rather long. Organisers will go out of their ways to find the local mountains, ideally with switchbacks where possible.

Practice make perfect - so locate a local climb that takes around eight to ten minutes to complete, and session it. Give yourself a ten minute spin to the base of the climb, before riding up and down it three times, and gently riding back home.

One way to replicate the effort you'll feel towards the end of the longest climbs at your event is to turn each ascent into a progressive effort. So for example, if it is eight minutes, ride the first two minutes at a tempo pace, the next two a little harder, then increase your effort every two minutes until you're gasping at the top.

Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to live within striking distance of a long hill. If that's the case, you can replicate this effort easily on a turbo trainer. Simply up the gears for your eight minute climb, and if you're making it a progressive effort, drop down by one gear on the cassette every two minutes to make it harder.

Outline

Warm up: 10 minutes, include 5 x 20 seconds fast cadence, 40 seconds easy cadence to get your heart pumping

Effort: 3 x 8 minute climb, use the descent as recovery (or around 4 minutes if you're on the turbo trainer). Make this a progressive effort by riding the first 2 minutes 'tempo', then gradually increasing the effort every 2 minutes.

Cool down: 10 minutes easy spin

Short, sharp hills

women's specific cycling gear road

The long climbs are one thing, but those sub-one minute leg sappers can really hammer the nail in when you're tired after a lot of miles. Preparing for them with shorter intervals will build the strength in your legs.

These sorts of efforts need to be your absolute best to be effective - so whilst on longer hills your recovery was short compared to the interval, here your recoveries will be long and your attacks short lived but effective.

Ride somewhere you know there are some short hills, and after a warm up work to attack one every five minutes or so until you've reached 50 minutes, then cool down. These kind of hills tend to creep up on you, so it's fine if they creep up on you in training, too - your intervals don't need to be a formal length as long as they're between 20 seconds and a minute, and recoveries can be anywhere between two and five minutes.

If you're riding indoors, you might want to formalise it a little bit more to make sure your attention doesn't slip...

Oultine

Warm Up: 10 minutes, include 5 x 20 seconds fast cadence, 40 seconds easy cadence to get your heart pumping

Effort: If outside, ride for thirty to forty minutes and attack every time you come across a short hill, allowing up to five minutes recovery between efforts. If you're inside, follow the below, repeating it twice:

20 second attack, 3 minute recovery

40 second attack, 4 minute recovery

1 minute attack, 5 minute recovery

40 second attack, 4 minute recovery

20 second attack, 3 minute recovery

Cool down: 10 minutes easy spin

Strength intervals

gym workout fitness exercise bike strength health

Sure, you can develop strength in the gym using weights, but doing it on the bike means you're strengthening the most relevant muscles for your sport. On bike strength training is achieved through high gear, high resistance efforts.

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This one is simple, you're going to churn a high resistance gear at a low candence - working to keep your revolutions per minute under 70. During the recovery, you'll spin much faster - a good habit to get into as during long events quick cadence over a light gear will help you to save your muscles for when you really need them - namely the climbs.

Outline

Warm Up: 10 minutes, include 5 x 20 seconds fast cadence, 40 seconds easy cadence to get your heart pumping

Effort:

3 x (1 minute high gear, low candence, 1 minute low gear, high candence)

4 minute recovery - normal cadence

3 x (1 minute high gear, low candence, 1 minute low gear, high candence)

4 minute recovery - normal cadence

3 x (1 minute high gear, low candence, 1 minute low gear, high candence)

4 minute recovery - normal cadence

Cool down: 10 minutes easy spin

Building in one or two of these sessions every week should help to improve your climbing, and strength on the bike. These are designed to be hard efforts, so give yourself an easy or rest day the following day to help your body recover and reap the benefits.

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