Knowledge Level: Beginner
With a fourteen year professional career, including 3rd and 4th at Paris-Roubaix, Junior World cyclo-cross title, eight National cyclo-cross crowns and seventh place in the Athens 2004 Olympic road race, Roger Hammond’s depth of cycling experience is indisputable. He is currently using that wealth of knowledge in his role as manager of the Madison Genesis Road Team. In this feature he gives you some top tips for successful sportives and summer riding.
It is really easy to annoy the other people in a group if you have mostly been riding on your own through the winter. When you corner, you take your own line and ride at your own speed and when you climb you climb at your own pace getting in and out of the saddle when you want. Then, all of a sudden, you are riding a sportive and you are part of a big group.
If you ride in a group the same way you do when riding alone, you will worry other riders, make them feel unsafe around you and even potentially cause crashes. Spend some time before your first sportive of the season revising essential group riding skills and etiquette and ideally getting out with some friends or a club.
The most important thing is to be very conscious of everybody around you and, if you are unsure of what to do, just follow the speed and the line of others.
Polish up your group riding skills and etiquette.
Post ride kit bag
Most importantly, I will have my recovery drink because that’s the first thing I want as soon as I have finished the ride. A complete change of clothes because, whether it has been cold, wet or sunny, you want to get warm and dry kit on as soon as possible. I also like to have some sort of eau de cologne and a hand flannel or wet wipes, just to wipe myself down with. It is amazing how much fresher you feel if you can just wipe your body off before you change into your new clothes. Have a mobile phone and some money just in case there are any problems. When you get to the end of the ride, you never know exactly where you will be, what facilities there are or what is going to happen, so you might need to get in contact with somebody.
Here are some more kit bag advice and tips.
Relaxing before a big event
When I first started off, we would be in hotels in the middle of nowhere in France, and could only get French television programmes. That made it really hard to relax. You would get bored and end up wasting energy going visiting friends in other rooms or going down to the bar to see if there was somebody there to chat with.
Now you have got tablet computers and portable entertainment, relaxing in the final stage of your pre-event preparation is easy. That final stage is doing nothing and minimising time spent on your feet. It will make a real difference to your performance the next day. Take enough films, TV programmes and books to keep you entertained and to keep you off your feet.
Part of being relaxed is being well prepared, get your final sportive preparations right.
Riding in the heat
If your sportive is on a really warm day, it can be quite difficult to manage because you are out exposed to the elements the entire day. There are a few things you can do though, and one is to drop your core temperature before you start. Make sure that you are in a cool room, in the shade, have an iced drink or maybe turn the air conditioning on in your car and stay in there as long as possible so that, when you start your sportive, you are cool. That can delay the onset of over-heating for up to a couple of hours during the ride.
If you can freeze your bottles, it is a good idea, but make sure you don’t freeze both. Just freeze one and leave the other one because you will need to hydrate right from the start of the event. If you wait for the first bottle to melt, it could be up to half an hour and by then you have already started dehydrating.
Try and keep your sunglasses on and keep out of the sun as much as possible, especially on a climb. If you are riding on a climb and there is some tree cover, ride underneath the trees. Open your jersey on climbs and, at feed stations, take advantage of cold water and any shade. Once you over-heat, it is almost impossible to recover from it.