Training For Your First Sportive

Words by David Hicks

on 05/03/2019 12:30:04


Coming from a mountain biking background, Luke from our Head Office team decided to don the Lycra this year and try something different. A road bike convert, he's tackled sportives, triathlons and a mammoth 300 mile ride to Edinburgh. Here, he shares his top training tips for sportive newbies.

First steps in road cycling

Road cycling is relatively new to me, having been an out-and-out mountain biker, I had never really given road riding a second thought. After some 'friendly' encouragement from the guys in the office, I opted to buy my first ever road bike - a Specialized Tarmac Sport. Although this wouldn't necessarily be seen as an entry-level road bike, the combination of a carbon frame in their famous Rocket Red colour and a Shimano 105 groupset had me sold, as it wouldn't be something I would be in a rush to upgrade if I happened to like road cycling.



The Bike

The updated version of Luke's bike, the Specialized Tarmac Disc Sport 2020 Carbon road bike, borrows many key features from the top-end professional level models but adds the affordable and reliable performance of Shimano 105 shifting with hydraulic disc brakes.

  • Carbon FACT 9r frame
  • Shimano 105 22-speed drivetrain
  • Shimano 105 R7070 hydraulic disc brakes
  • DT R470 Disc wheelset
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With a few steady road rides under my belt, I'd found myself on the tarmac more often than the trail! I decided to look for a challenge to work towards, and the Rutland CiCLE Tour sportive presented a great opportunity - close to home, and on roads I'm already familiar with, I quickly got myself signed up to the 100 mile route.

Having never done any kind of road ride, I was entering unfamiliar territory so I was happy to learn that sportives are more of a personal challenge than a race! With this in mind I figured a majority of my training would just be getting out on my bike as much as I can - 100 miles rolls off the tongue nicely but it's a pretty fair distance when you're out riding, coming in at nearly 6 hours in the saddle.


Velo 29 Rutland CiCLE Tour Sportive

Starting from Giant Store Rutland, the Rutland CiCLE Tour sportive run by Velo29 Events takes you through some of most picturesque and challenging cycling terrain that Rutland and the neighbouring counties have to offer.

  • When: Saturday 25th April 2020
  • Where: Giant Store Rutland, Rutland Water, LE15 8HD
  • Routes: 40, 78 or 100 miles
  • Cost: £22.50 (route dependant), including on-route feedstations, post-event food, mechanical support, electronic timing and event medal


Now for the training plan - if you can call it that. I've done a fair few long-distance mountain bike enduro events in the past, but nothing that stacked up to a 100-mile ride. I decided that getting in as much saddle time as possible in one go would be the best bet to work towards the 100-mile distance. Turns out riding your road bike over winter isn't quite as easy as riding your mountain bike! Because of this, I looked for a turbo trainer so that I could do my ride indoors on the cold days and in the house after work when it was dark. I opted for the Wahoo Kickr Core trainer, a smart direct drive model at a keen price point, and I couldn't recommend it enough. Pairing it up with Zwift has worked wonders for me, with structured training plans and lots of Strava style segments to challenge yourself on, I've found that my riding has improved no end. The only downside to doing long stints on the turbo is how hot you get, so I would recommend looking at one of the Wahoo fans (as well as all the other cool kit they do for indoor training) to keep you cool.


Bike fit & nutrition

Since riding longer distances I have noticed little niggles with my position on the bike - a numb foot, and sore bum to be specific! To correct this I have booked myself in for a bike fit at my local Rutland Cycling store. A consistent niggle on the bike is enough to put you off riding long-distances, so it's important to make sure the fit of your bike is absolutely spot on. As the Specialized Tarmac isn't classed as an endurance frame, I'll be making small adjustments to the bike beyond the fit to make it a little more comfortable over long-distances. First up is a change of rubber. My bike came fitted with 700x23c tyres as standard so I'll be changing these to some 700x25c tyres for a little added comfort. The Continental 4 Seasons tyres have great reviews and would be a great upgrade to any bike. Second, the saddle. Saddles are a very personal choice so it's important to try lots of different options and to get your sit bones measured to make sure you have the correct saddle width - I'll be getting mine checked as part of my bike fit.

Find out more about Bike Fit

A long time in the saddle means that you'll need to re-fuel on the fly. Most sportives have feed stations to boost your energy levels but its good to get used to your own nutrition to avoid any unplanned toilet stops! The general rule for fuelling is that you'll need around 100g of carbs per hours exercise. I've been using the OTE nutrition range and will be packing my saddle-bag full of snacks and gels to keep me going throughout the ride. The Anytime bars truly are delicious and I've found myself snacking on them at home as well as whilst out on rides.

Luke's essential gear

As the date of my event draws closer I'm concentrating on doing around 20 miles in the evening after work on the Turbo, as well as some longer road rides at the weekends. I can definitely say that I wouldn't be riding my bike as much if I didn't have a personal challenge booked. Most sportives offer different distances, so if you can't quite take on the 100 miler just yet, opt for one of the shorter distances to work towards. Signing up for events is great motivation to get yourself out riding and I can definitely say I don't regret challenging myself with this one - we'll see if I say the same thing after crossing the finish line!

Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store

Stock up on sportive essentials, get fitted for a new bike, or just ask our expert team for some advice at your nearest store.