Published on the Bike Envy website on 19/02/14.
We’ve been focussing on sportive riding, looking at some of the events you could choose from here and the training you should do to prepare here. In anticipation of the Chiltern 100 Sportive on 1st June, Dermott Hayes the head coach at RG Active, the official training partner of Human Race events and Ironman Wales, UK and 70.3 UK, has offered his top tips to help you enjoy the experience.
Yes, some of this may seem like common sense, but it’s all good advice that is definitely worth some thought before embarking on any sportive.
This might sound like a basic place to start but begin by ensuring that your bike is always in good working order, keep an eye on tyre tread, brake blocks and cable tension and all of the moving parts of the ‘drivetrain’ (chain, chainrings, derailleurs and cassette). Always seek professional advice if you are unsure about bike mechanics.
Spend some time finding the best possible riding position and bike set up. An ill fitting bike could cause you to be less efficient on race day and therefore lose time, it also can lead to injuries if you are not suited to the bike. The bike should be made to fit you, not you to fit the bike. Comfort is absolutely key when riding a race bike.
The primary fitness objective in taking part in a cyclosportive like the Chiltern 100 is to be able to complete the course distance. Therefore the key training sessions of every week are the long rides done at a steady pace, designed to develop endurance both physically and mentally for riding long distances. Aim to increase your long ride distance by no more than 10-15% per week, until you are able to cover the race distance. Also consider having a recovery week approx each 4th week when you will reduce the overall training volume by decreasing distance and duration of training.
The Chiltern 100 is a very tough cyclosportive over both distances and the elevation profile sets it apart from many other events. A look at the course profiles will show you that the climbing is broken up into a series of repetitive climbs that vary in length and gradient, some of the climbs are quite short in length but very steep and require an ability to keep the pedals turning in an efficient way. Other climbs are longer and steadier in gradient and will allow you to get into a more rhythmic pattern. You must try to replicate climbs like these as much as possible in your longer training rides otherwise you will be in for a shock on the day of the event.
Build some hill repetitions into your training each week. An indoor bike or turbo trainer is ideal for this as it allows you to train in a very measurable way. Include a variety of styles of climbing (seated and standing) and vary between climbing efforts of 30secs to 10mins, that are either very explosive efforts or much more constant levels of effort that you can sustain for long periods.
Prior to race day be sure to do your research and be prepared for what the Chiltern 100 will throw at you. Have an idea of how long the event will take you and how much nutrition you will expect to eat/drink. Have a rough plan for how often you will eat, remembering that prevention is better than cure, i.e. eat to fuel yourself before you get to the point of hunger and graze on smaller amounts of energy foods each 20-30mins. A general rule on hydration is to take on board approx 750ml of fluid per hour.
The Gran Fondo option of the Chiltern 100 at 110 miles is a serious challenge and will test the most durable of cyclists. The key to successful sportive riding is to manage your efforts throughout the race. The first 30-40 miles should not be ridden too hard, otherwise the final 20 miles could become an incredibly different challenge, and in particular this event has some tough climbing in those last 20 miles. A phrase that I like to use is ‘keep your powder dry’ meaning it makes sense to just hold that little bit back in reserve. Only you will know what levels to work at and only through having done the big miles in training will you know what is right.
Riding a cyclosportive allows you to ride in groups and work as mini-teams. Use this to your advantage and if you are doing the event with friends then try to work as a group who all share the workload by taking turns to ride at the front of a line, therefore shielding the others from the wind. This allows everybody to get some recovery and then do their turn on the front. Being able to ride efficiently in a group does require you to be confident at ‘following a wheel’, so practice that on your longer rides. The other technical element of riding that you must work on is descending, this ride has a number of descents that require confidence and competence. Try to find lots of hills in your training that you can practice descending.
A much more practical tip is to ensure you keep an eye on the weather and be prepared with the correct clothing options. An event like the Chiltern 100 will have you out on the roads for a good few hours and you need to try and have the clothing choices that will keep you the happiest. Being too hot by wearing too many layers can be very uncomfortable in the same way as not being prepared for rain. Getting soaked through and staying cold and wet makes for miserable riding. So it’s a good idea to take a couple of different choices with you to the race and then make your final choice on the morning of the event. Carry some spares like a gilet, or rain jacket in your back pocket as well.
Being part of an event like the Chiltern 100 is special. Enjoy the time on the roads on your bike and the fitness benefits that you will gain from taking on this challenge. In order to enjoy the race fully you must be prepared both physically and mentally so get out there early and get the miles in your legs and be ready for those hills.
Dermott Hayes is a head coach at RG Active, one of the UK’s leading multisport coaching companies. Dermott has been involved in the multisport scene for the last 15 years including racing for Team GB at Triathlon World Champs and is a multiple Ironman finisher. RG Active are the official training partner of Human Race events and offer group and individual training for every level of athlete. Visit them at RG Active.