Am I ready for my first sportive?

Foyzy Posts: 38
edited May 2013 in Road general
Hi all,

I got into road riding about six months ago. I've been out on my Cannondale Supersix as much as possible and have been doing 30-35 miles hilly rides fairly regularly up until a month ago and loving it. Since then I haven't been able to get out on the bike recently due to work and the bad weather. For the past 3 months I have also been having to build up the miles gradually after having big issues with my IT band due to poor bike fit, which is now fixed.

I am booked in to do my first ever sportive next Sunday - the Evans Ride It Woking - doing the 60 mile course. It says it is a sportive aimed more at beginners and has a 2/5 difficulty rating. I had planned to do more training but as I say I've not been able to be on the bike recently.

Question is, given I've only been doing up to 35 (and the occasional 40) mile rides and have been off the bike for four weeks, is it wise to go and do a 60 mile sportive or should I wait until I have been riding that kind of distance in my training? I have a reasonably good level of fitness, but don't want to bite off more than I can chew or worse bring on the IT band issues that I seem to have now fixed.

Any advice gratefully received. Also if anyone has done the Evans Woking event before I'd love to know what it's like.



  • GerardR
    GerardR Posts: 4
    Just give it a go, without giving in to the temptation to go hell for leather. Ride at a steady, comfortable pace and, while you won't be the quickest, you'll get there. Use this as a ride to build on for the summer which must be coming one day (here in the southern hemisphere ours is only just showing signs of ending).
  • unixnerd
    unixnerd Posts: 2,864
    The other thing is to watch the nutrition. On his first 50 miler my nephew shunned the burger stand at the 25 mile mark (charity run) as they were unhealthy and he doesn't eat white bread. I normally would too, but I had one for fuel. At the 45 mile stage he was bonking and wished he'd had one! Eat even if you're not hungry. Unsalted peanuts work well for me. And don't try to keep up with anyone, cycle at your own steady pace. If you feel fresh at the end use your spare energy then. - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • danlikesbikes
    danlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    Foyzy wrote:
    is it wise to go and do a 60 mile sportive


    As long as you are sensible yes.

    It is a big jump 35/40 to 60 but I did something similar when I first started road riding. As others have said you need to make sure you keep your speed manageable, any hills try not to fly up in a big gear and kill your legs. Plus think about food/drink as not sure what your average speed would be but you could be in the saddle for a while if your doing 60 miles.

    Don't know this event myself but would always plan to carry enough food on my own to get around without relying on any of the aid stations they may have put on. Nothing too complicated & I personally don't tend to make it complicated or expensive but bananas, flapjacks, figrolls are all cheap and easy to carry. If you think you might need more you can always make a sandwich in a pita bread & wrap in cling film as it works for me & easy to carry. Have a personal addiction to rice cakes with nutella or speculoos between 2 and cling film wrapped makes for a nice sweet treat.

    Enjoy your ride :)
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • andi1363
    andi1363 Posts: 350
    If you are fit and fast enough to feel you could win a 4th cat race but are too scared to enter, then yes you are ready for a sportive! :wink:
  • saprkzz
    saprkzz Posts: 592
    As Dan says, its a big jump upto 60 miles, the last few miles will hurt, just dont go out too fast, pace your speed that is comfortable and save yourself on the hills. You are more than likely going to get chatting with people as well, so grab on to each others wheels to save energy. I met someone who has turned into a very good mate on a sportive, and regually train with him. I always seem to get involved with a group going round that is a simliar speed as me.

    Have fun, and dont worry about it.
  • If you have a bike with 2 wheels, you can ride a sportive
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • Foyzy
    Foyzy Posts: 38
    Thanks for the replies. Sounds like it might still be worth giving it a go. Guess I can always do the short 30 mile route if I decide 60 is too much on the day.
  • danlikesbikes
    danlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    Foyzy wrote:
    Thanks for the replies. Sounds like it might still be worth giving it a go. Guess I can always do the short 30 mile route if I decide 60 is too much on the day.

    Take it easy & you'll get round. If you can do 40 then 60 is doable, take your time carry enough food and you'll be surprised what you can achieve. Plus you might end up riding with others so get a wind break part of the way.

    Enjoy the ride
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • martinperry
    martinperry Posts: 127
    I just did my first sportive yesterday, from almost exactly the same starting point as you (London Phoenix Easter Classic)
    Simple answer - Yes!! - You should be fine. Pace yourself, and dont worry about all the lycra and carbon flying past you!
    I normally average about 16MPH on a 35 miler, and paced a little bit slower - came out at 14.5mph for the 70 miles
    As said above, watch the nutrition. I normally do a 35 on a bowl of porridge, but realised I needed to take a different approach. Fed myself on the fly at 13 and 26 miles, followed by a cake stop at feeding station at 35. Then tried to run from there on energy drink alone. Started feeling crap at 55 or so and HAD to stop at about 60 miles and feed myself a double decker. Only 5 minutes, so no biggie, and was fine to finish the ride, but I reckon I would have been able to do it all had I remembered to eat. A definite learner!
  • charliew87
    charliew87 Posts: 371
    I've signed myself up for the 90 mile version of this on Sunday. Longest ride so far is 60 miles but with 5000ft of climbing (this has around 3500ft I think). Christ knows if I can make it or not but I'm hoping with plenty of carbs, water and perseverence I should make it.
    Canyon AL Ultimate 9.0
  • roadiemk
    roadiemk Posts: 19

    As long as your general level of cardiovascular fitness is ok, you should be fine for 60 miles.

    In comparison, I took on my first sportive last year, the Evans King of the Down's. This is much harder than Woking due to the hills. Prior to doing this event, I had no hill experience whatsoever (I like in flat Bucks) and my max distance had been only 25 miles (Evans KOTD route was 53 miles), in adddition my cardio fitness was not great and I suffer from asthma too.
    I got round ok, but not in any great time!

    Good luck. Early indications for the weather look promising.

    Additionally with these sporitves, if you feel on the day 60 miles may be too much, you can always opt for the shorter route instead.
  • Foyzy
    Foyzy Posts: 38
    Hi guys, I am looking to do a sportive this weekend - it is 74 miles (the longest I have ever ridden is 58 miles). Last weekend I did 2 X 50 mile rides and felt OK afterwards and before that have been doing a number of 40 milers.

    Question is, is 74 miles too much of a step up from what I've been doing recently?
  • canny_lad
    canny_lad Posts: 329
    You'll be fine. I went from 39 to 65 miles in one step so go for it. Good luck & enjoy :D
  • TheSmithers
    TheSmithers Posts: 291
    For the sportive you've described you're totally ready mate. It's not a race, it's just you against yourself, and I think it's a respectable target to simply finish it, get the miles in and most of all enjoy it! You say you have 6 months experience riding your SuperSix (same bike as me :D), doing distances of 30-40 miles. It certainly wouldn't kill you to do 60.
  • Foyzy
    Foyzy Posts: 38
    Thanks for the quick replies. The question it would be god to get everyone's feedback on is relating to my most recent post - am I ready for a 74 mile sportive? I've been doing 50 milers recently but nothing more, so just need to know if going up to 74 is too much, thanks again.
  • oldwelshman
    oldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    Yes, it is a sportive not the TDF :D Pace yourself at your pce and eat something like banana or ge evry 20 miles and you will be fine. Dont worry about jump in miles quoted it really is not that big a a jump.
  • TheSmithers
    TheSmithers Posts: 291
    Rather than worry about whether you're ready, just do them! What's the worst that could happen? As others have said, pace yourself, eat and drink regularly and you'll surprise yourself. Somewhere on this forum I read that whatever the distance of your longest ride, you're capable of riding twice as far at a controlled pace. Not sure how much truth there is to that, but I can believe it. I recently did an 84 mile sportive with nearly 6000 ft of climbing. Previous to that I'd done some 60 mile rides here and there, but with nowhere near that amount of climbing! To say I was apprehensive would have been an understatement. I ended up getting a silver time.