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From sportive to racing

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Article posted: 03/07/2013

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Every rider goes through the same motivational conundrum after they have finished a big sportive event, what should they target next? Some riders pick a longer event, a hillier event or commit to getting faster the following year. Some decide to try their hand at racing and a year of strong sportive results gives you an ideal physical and technical grounding to start your race career.

Even with a solid grounding in sportives, the step into racing can be slightly daunting. Fortunately Insight Zone experts can take you through the steps of converting your sportive fitness and experiences into the world of Go Race events.

Go Race events are an introductory level of racing open to 4th category riders with a Full Silver or Gold Racing Licence, British Cycling Provisional Licence holders and non-members. These events are a great introduction to racing on road bikes, taking place on circuits closed to traffic and a good way build licence points to move up to a 3rd, 2nd, 1st and elite category racer in the UK.

Distances and durations:

A Go Race event compared to a sportive event is going to be different. That doesn’t mean that this is better or worse, it just means you’ll need to change the way you will tackle your training and events.

Sportives: The event distances are generally between 50 miles to over 100 miles, with rolling or hilly terrain and can be completed in the riders own time. Depending on their personal goal for that ride, durations could be between a couple of hours and over 5 hours to come across the finish line.

Go Race: The events are based on riders completing as many laps as possible in 30 minutes, on a circuit that is closed to road traffic and the challenge in this event is to finish with or at the front of the first group across the finish line.

Transfer: The miles you have built up in your sportive training will give you a base from which to improve your power and speed which that is needed in Go Race events. Your training for Go Race events will be more specific to make sure you can keep pace with the group and respond to surges and attacks.

Clothing, equipment and fitness:

Sportives: Sportives are open to all and attract a broad spectrum of riders from novices in t-shirt and trainers to extremely serious riders with professional level equipment. Level of fitness will vary massively too, with some simply aiming to finish the ride but others who are pushing for bronze, silver, or gold standard times.

Go Race: You don’t need a top of the range bike for a Go Race event but all riders will be on road bikes with cycling specific clothing including clipless pedals and shoes. The range of fitness levels and riding experience can still be fairly wide but the overall standard will be equivalent to riding hard with a strong group in a sportive.

Transfer: Take all non essential items of your bike (mudguards, lights, saddle bags, second bottle cage etc) and make sure that all components are running smoothly (hubs, chain, gears). If you have done a fair amount of training and other events on your bike, pay particular attention to your brake blocks and get them replaced if they look worn, as you will be using these to brake fairly hard before entering tight corners. Your fitness should allow you to ride within a strong group and your bike handling should be safe and predictable.

The flow of the event:

Sportives: Riding a sportive when you are riding well can be very fluid and relaxed. You have time to enjoy your climbing, riding through and off in a group and the pace will be fairly consistent and often dictated by yourself.

Go Race: There is a flow to the excitement of closed circuit races as, to be successful, you need to stay with the front group. You’ll slow down hard before the corners and pedal hard out of them. There will be lulls in the pace where people will rest and the process continues with riders either staying with the front group or losing contact and trying to get back on until the race ends.

Transfer: When on a sportive or group ride, try to find a group of experienced riders you can ride with. Use this to understand where you feel nervous and where you feel most comfortable within the group. Follow experienced riders as they move up through the group with confidence and try to emulate them. Remember this when you enter Go Race events as you will need to find other riders in the group who you can follow to save energy and that will be safe when moving around the group.

Nutrition to compete:

Sportives: For events lasting over 60 minutes you will require good pre, during and post race nutrition to get you through and optimally recovered. This will include a solid breakfast, energy snacks on the route and a plan for after your ride, all detailed by Head of Nutrition Nigel Mitchell.

Go Race: A 30 minute race does not require you to take on any nutrition as anything you take during the event might not have an effect until after you have finished and may cause digestive upset as you are riding at such a high intensity. At most you may require a drink on your bike in warm conditions to stay hydrated in the latter parts of the race but this could be avoided by hydrating well before the event.

Transfer: In your training you will need to continue to feed your rides, nutritional planning from your sportive events will support your training for Go Race events. Before the event you should eat healthy and drink well, making sure you have enough energy for a short event, you will not need food during the race, save this for after the event where you will need to replenish used energy stores.

 

The techniques:

Sportive: Unless you are riding with a group of friends or in a major sportive event you will often be riding on your own, picking your own line into corners and down descents. Riding with others will give you a solid grounding of riding through and off, riding in windy conditions and using others slipstream, all good techniques which you can take into road racing.

Go Race: You will use all the techniques you have learnt from your sportive training and events but in a more restricted area. At some points you will have less space to pick your own line into corners, tactics may mean you cannot make you way to the front and other riders may not share the work load to get to the finish line.

Transfer: Always remember that you are not on your own when entering a Go Race event, other riders will be around you and wanting to overtake you in quite tight situations. You need to stay as relaxed and utilise as much group riding experience from sportive events or training. Find a local club if you are not already a member, go out on group rides with them, look at the Insight Zone technique videos and above all just get involved, you learn to be a racer from racing, as no one has ever won a race from just training.

A Go Race event compared to a sportive event is going to be different. That doesn’t mean that this is better or worse, it just means you’ll need to change the way you will tackle your training and events. Your training will become more focused on interval sessions and you will have to develop your top end power. After this you will have a good grounding of experience that should take you successfully through your first racing event. So find your event, maybe find a level 3 coach and take the jump and you may never look back.

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