Sportive pacing

richp77 Posts: 12
edited March 2013 in Road beginners
Hi all,

I've been riding for about a year, comparatively low weekly km's (c.100) but plenty of hills here in sunny Cyprus. I completed my first sportive last weekend, great group of riders and an excellent route over 3 days (VW Cyprus cycling tour 2013) but struggled with the pacing, i.e went off too quickly at the beginning of the timed sections when I felt strong, after say 20km of neutral zone, and then slowed over the duration of the section as the pain cave welcomed me in. How do people pace themselves accordingly? Can't imagine anything worse than finishing a ride with anything left in the tank, i would hate to finish and then think, I could have gone harder.
The vast majority of my rides are solo so pacing is not a consideration as I can go as hard as I'm able, for as long as I'm able, blow up, then take a break.
I lack the discipline/patience to just sit and tap out the same rhythm for the whole duration and prefer variations in effort, however if this is the key to riding faster then I'm happy to suck it up.
Also I can't see how basing pacing on heart rate over a route with huge variations in elevation can work?

Any advice gratefully received as I really want to improve, thanks


  • Gizmodo
    Gizmodo Posts: 1,928
    Pacing is a tough one, especially on something like a Sportive where you don't know the course. If you know the course well, where the tough hills are, where the fast descents are etc. and you can ride the course a few times, then you can work out where to go hard and where to ease off. Normally you don't have that luxury on a sportive.

    Study the course map, especially the elevation data. Try and set yourself time checks, "I want to be at the top of that hill at xx minutes in". Mostly it comes from experience and knowing your limits.

    From ... group.html
    A sportive can be looked at as a time trial that allows ‘drafting’, so do so as often as you can. The potential energy savings are massive, since your speed goes up but the average heart rate stays low as you get the benefits of the ‘draft’ from the other riders.

    There is obviously a caveat to this and it’s the risk of joining groups which are either too fast or too slow, so you’ll need to ride your judgement in identifying groups of riders that can be of use to you. You might also need to amend your pacing strategy in the short term to get the benefits. For example if you’re with a group of riders and rolling along at a mostly comfortable high pace but you’re struggling to stay in the group as it crests a short hill, you might be better going much harder than you’re comfortable with for short periods in order to keep benefiting from the group on the flatter sections on the other side of the hills.
  • richp77
    richp77 Posts: 12
    Thanks Gizmodo, useful advice, my next sportive is this weekend and it fortunately follows some routes I know well, so time checks should work. Found myself constantly yo-yoing between groups on the last one, gaining time on the flat and downhill but losing time on the uphills as the route progressed.