With the UK’s biggest cycle sportive, the Prudential RideLondon now over, you may be thinking of entering one yourself. Stop the panic buying and grab a couple of essentials that I think will make your ride more enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be a ride as big as the Prudential RideLondon 100 miler, it could be for any cycling sportive you’ve got planned; something to train for, to push your fitness goals or even attempt you’ve never done before.
With it being good old British summer time, it’s probably best to start with something… Weatherproof. I don’t think you’ll go far wrong than with a good gilet. These things are great if you’ve an early start time on a chilly winter morning with a day that will heat up or even a muggy day with rain showers. The chaps over at Huez* sent me their flagship gilet. The Starman Windproof Gilet. Fancy sounding, isn’t it?
The fancy of this gilet though goes beyond the name. It packs down neatly it to its own carry bag, in my opinion it could probably pack down even smaller than its bag. It’s windproof and even more than showerproof and will give you a brilliant extra layer in the changeable weather. But wait, what’s this, the gilet has an extra trick up its sleeve – if it were to have sleeves that is. It’s pretty nifty, you can whip this gilet off in seconds by simply hooking your fingers in to the tabs either side of the zip and tugging outwards. The zip simply peels away and you’ll be the first in the peloton to have you gilet off. Providing you can take both hands off of the handle bars that is. The slightly annoying thing about this is though, you must have the zip done all the way up for it to work effectively. So, you could just unzip…
It’s great, it really is but coming in at £115 it’s certainly got a big price tag. But you can be safe in the knowledge you’ll get plenty of wear out of it. While the fabric feels flimsy, it’s pretty darn durable and something you’ll get plenty of use out of.
Now, you have your clothing sorted, let us talk nutrition. One of the biggest things people forget to do is feed effectively and feed well when riding a big sportive. Do not underestimate it. Personally, I would rather come home with pockets full of food than halfway round cramping up wishing I had another energy bar or gel!
Bio Synergy sent me over a few of their gels and recovery shakes, claiming that their sales on Wiggle had increased by 30% over recent months and the only thing they could put it down to was increased participation in sportives and people becoming more aware of their nutrition. Now call me a stick in the mud but sorry Bio Synergy, you’re not for me. Their recovery shakes couldn’t hold a candle to the power of Science in Sport (SiS) and the nitrates and other supplements just didn’t work for me.
Maybe it’s just my body and how it breaks down the substances but the SiS stuff is fantastic, plus when you sign up to SiS they tend to have mass sales and they always let you know when they’re giving away gels. Their stuff is far superior to any out there, they’ve also started supplying Team Sky this year and I think we could all agree their performance and recovery powers at the Tour de France this year was nothing short of outstanding. SiS actually sent me over some figures; the nine-man Team Sky team consumed over 3,000 SiS products during the 23-day challenge. In a breakdown that is:
570 GO Energy bars
580 GO Isotonic gels
180 GO Electrolyte gels
240 Go Energy+Caffeine gels
940 GO Electrolyte servings
180 REGO Rapid Recovery servings
210 Overnight protein servings
300 GO Hydro servings
You may think that that’s all they eat on the bike, somehow during the stages they also have time for rice cakes and whatever else their chef cooks up for them! If it’s good enough for Team Sky over 2,197 miles, it’s good enough for me over 100!
Ready to race?
Hey there, hot-shot. Are you race ready? Well, here is my little secret… Secret Training. I’m not on about sneaking an extra ten miles on the bike before you meet your club mates for a ride. I’m talking STRIP, or, Secret Training Race Informed Products. This little pack might set you back £50 (special introductory offer) but my god is it worth it. It contains:
– Hand sanitiser
– Start oil
– Anti chaffing cream (chamois cream)
– Hygiene wipes
– Lip balm
– Post race wash
– Sun screen
– Micro fibre cloths
– A tin of pins
Let’s pick up on a few of those things, start oil, what’s that? Well it’s a muscle rub to put on pre ride. Word to the wise, apply after the chamois cream, it is similar to deep heat. You do not want to get that where your chamois cream goes! It also puts a protective layer between your skin and the elements, so you can keep going come rain or shine. The sunscreen is SPF30, the size is perfect though, slip in your back pocket/saddle bag and help keep those tan lines sharp and cultivated (rule 7 of cycling). The post race wash, many of you won’t need this as it’s for when there are no showers around. More for the racers and races this one but it is good stuff! Same with the micro fibre clothes, for personal use after a race.
While the pack is too big to carry on the bike during a sportive, the essentials are perfect size and great for the ride. They all fit in the travel case perfectly and neatly. Great to give to a family member to meet you at the finish. It really is great; I am really impressed by this pack of secrets and can’t recommend it enough. It smells good and the chamois cream is a good performer for long days in the saddle.
Go get ’em
The biggest thing to remember on your sportive is to have fun. Don’t go under prepared and it’s not a race. The only person you are racing is yourself, challenge yourself but don’t ruin yourself. It’ll be tough, you’ll probably ask yourself why you’re doing it, you’ll probably question why you’re even doing it and then before you know it, it’ll be over. You will be elated, proud and be able to say you did it.
Now, go get ’em!
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