How to: Ride and Enjoy your First Sportive - Total Women's Cycling

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How to: Ride and Enjoy your First Sportive

5 essential tips to ensure you enjoy your first sportive

The thought of riding your first sportive is often more daunting than the ride itself! Here, British Cycling coach and Macmillan Cycletta ambassador, Kerry Bircher  passes on some expert advice to help make your ride both fun and effective.

 1. Pace yourself

Try to aim for a consistent effort throughout the event. Don’t be tempted to chase after faster riders and then run out of energy half way around – anyone whom has ‘blown’ half way round a sportive will tell you it’s not an experience they’d want to repeat. Instead ride at you own pace, based on what you have done in training.

2.  Be confident on the hills:

– Make sure you have included climbing in your training so that you can be confident in both your fitness and technique.

– Gear selection is key – change into an easy gear, and ‘spin’ your way up the hill using a high cadence aiming to keep this quicker pedalling style, rather than trying to muscle your way up in hard gears.

How to: Climb hills 

– Descend in your drop handlebars and control your speed by braking smoothly and predictably when you need to. Give other riders lots of space and do not grab or snatch your brakes at any time.

 3. On the road:

– Practice both riding in traffic and riding with other cyclists around you.

– Be traffic aware – if riding two abreast, go into single file if vehicles are waiting to pass you or on twisty narrow roads where visibility may be poor.

7 Tips for staying safe on the bike

– If you’re riding with friends then work together and benefit from the draft of the rider in front of you. When the leading rider becomes tired or the pace starts to drop then she can pull out to the side (if there is no traffic) and go to the back of the line where she will be able to take a ‘rest’. This formation enables your group to maintain a quick pace with less workload.

– Point any obstacles out to other riders (Read our guide to Hand Signals and Calls for Road Cycling Here)

4. Keep fuelled:

– It’s really important to drink regularly throughout the ride, and to eat a small carbohydrate rich snack every half an hour to keep your energy up. I carry an electrolyte based drink on rides over 1.5 hours, cereal bars and snacks such as fig rolls or flap jacks.

What to eat before, during and after the ride

– After the ride it’s important to eat a protein rich snack such as chocolate milk within twenty minutes of finishing and a full meal within two hours.

5. Enjoy yourself:

Sportives are there to be enjoyed at your own pace and give you a taste of things to come further down the line should you wish to progress to longer distances over multiple days, or into racing.


The Macmillan Cycletta series of women only bike rides continues with Macmillan Cycletta Scotland on Sunday 5th October (closing date for entries: 28th September ) and Macmillan Cycletta Surrey  with Victoria Pendleton 12th October (closing date for entries: 5th October). Entries will be available on the day for Macmillan Cycletta Cheshire on Sunday 28th  September.

Find more information here.

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