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Tips to prepare for a race

Coaching and preparation for a successful race

Published on July 18, 2022 

You've just bought your dream bike from The Cyclist House. It's beautiful and has all the components you've always wanted, so now comes the best part: riding.

Sure, you'll often ride alone or with your friends, but there's nothing like a big, well organized ride to get a real feel for what you and your bike are capable of. So if you want to challenge yourself by participating in cyclosportives, there is an incredibly wide and varied range of options to choose from and prepare for

Here, we're going to talk about what you need to do before one of these big events. It's not just about getting the right gear for the ride you're going to do, like one of our many road bikes Certified Pre-OwnedIt's also about knowing how to choose the right one for you and how to prepare it. For this last point we share with you the key points for a successful bike coaching with the enlightenment of Niels Brouzes former pro racer and founder of Sorius Cycling Coachthe leader in online cycling coaching. Get ready for a type of event that will change the way you see cycling.

Image of a cyclosportive peloton

What is a cyclosportive?

Basically, cyclosportives, sportivas or "Granfondos", as they are called around the world, are organized routes that are not subject to any specific criteria. They usually offer marked routes with a choice of two or three distances, refreshment points where you can recover, mechanical assistance if you have a problem with your bike, a "broom wagon" to recover riders in difficulty and your route is timed. These events are usually held in a very safe environment, with medical and local assistance, and even road closures during the race. The main idea being that you don't have to think about where to go, you just follow the signs and try to do your best.

Runners usually wear a bib and the time they take to complete the course is recorded. There is usually an upper time limit within which the course must be completed (unlike many rides, there is no lower time limit preventing riders from completing the course quickly). A cyclosportive is based on a set of difficulties, i.e. the distance to be covered, the difference in altitude and therefore the overall duration of the event. The course, already long, includes traditionclimbs and difficult riding conditions, which adds to the merit of the event - the did someone say Paris-Roubaix?

Ascent of La Marmotte in full happiness

Photo: UK Bike Oisans

A cyclosportive falls somewhere between a traditional cycling road race and the more challenging non-competitive rides, and while they are not races, you will see your performance improve as your cycling progresses.

As a cyclosportive is open to all participants, there is no obligation to be licensed, but generally a medical certificate must be presented at the time of registration. And this is where we find all its beauty. Because they offer the possibility to enjoy and discover new parts of the country as well as to enjoy great camaraderie as friends, plus the route usually ends with a good hot meal, drinks, a prize-giving in good spirits and unforgettable encounters - they really show cycling and cyclists in their best light.

What are the best cyclosportives?

Cyclosportives take place all over the world, all year round and for all types of cyclists. At The Cyclist House we have mentioned a few. But it is always good to refresh your mind. The most famous ones in France are :

  • La Marmotte. A legendary cyclosportive with 177km and 5000m of ascent, known for the beauty of its course but also for its difficulty and the succession of its mythical passes.

  • The Ariegeoise in the Pyrenees. A cyclosportive race, whose fame goes beyond the borders of France with its 5000 cyclists on the starting line each edition. A very friendly cyclo with beautiful courses for all levels in incredible landscapes.

  • The Ardéchoise. An unmissable cycling event that takes place as its name suggests in the Ardèche. An average of 15000 cyclists gather for different types of routes, difficulties and distances.

  • The Stage of the Tour. We couldn't forget to mention one of the most famous, not only in France, but in the whole world. If you want to feel literally inside the Tour de France, you must try this one. A great event with 167 km of road with over 4,700 meters. This year it took place in one of the most famous stages of the Tour, between Briançon and Alpe d'Huez. A unique experience of its kind.

Ascent of the Alpe d'Huez

For the 2022 cyclosportives calendar, you can consult the website of Velo 101 website or the French Cycling Federation.

Preparation of your cyclosportive.

Preparing a cyclosportive is not trivial. Exciting moment, moment of pleasure, all the ingredients must be gathered for an unforgettable memory and to avoid being in the hard. We share with you the key points for a successful bike coaching with the enlightenment of Niels Brouzes, the founder of Sorius Cycling Coach.

TCH When you are a cyclosportive, how do you manage to set a goal?
NB You really have to avoid falling into impulsiveness and ask yourself the right questions by trying to be as honest as possible about your abilities.
I advise all my coaches to write on a post-it note:

  • How many kilometers am I able to swallow?

  • How much time do I have to train properly for the goal?

  • Is it a goal that fits my profile?

Writing down your goal is a step towards realism and more fun.Then comes the choice of the right event, in all conscience.

TCH Why is it important to listen to your feelings?
NB Learning to listen to oneself, knowing one's limits, means putting one's intelligence at the service of one's performance.
Sport, whether practiced in leisure or performance mode, is above all about psychology and a fine understanding of one's physiological mechanism. If I had to summarize my thoughts, I would say that the main enemy of the athlete is doubt. Excitement leads to the wrong goal, the wrong goal leads to doubt, doubt leads to failure and lack of pleasure.

TCH Do you have an example of a typical week to prepare a cyclosportive?
NB Ideally you should be able to follow a few sessions and think about resting.
I recommend crossing general physical preparation, walking, running, outdoor cycling, home trainer. The diversity makes the training fun.
The typical week is mainly similar to the following topology:

  • Monday: rest following a Sunday on the bike, so recovery

  • Tuesday : A restart of the muscles

  • Wednesday : A specific type of training according to the period before the objective

  • Thursday: A cross-country run that can be coupled with rhythm at the end of the training

  • Friday : Food hygiene and rest

  • Saturday : Unlocking the body

  • Sunday : A nice group outing with friends or see a competition.

To achieve this, it's important to have tools that can help you. At The Cyclist House we recommend Sorius as a tool to help you achieve your goals. Sorius is an online platform that puts the human being at the heart of the training process. The platform takes into account your biorhythms, seasonal rhythms, your sensations, your illnesses and injuries, your mental fatigue or your sleep quality to define a customized training program.

In addition to defining your goals and training plan another important point is of course to have the right equipment. To begin with you need to have the right bike for the bike of your choice, so check out our road bike buying guide and also know the difference between aero, climbing or endurance bikes. With this you will have all the tools to choose wisely.

Don't forget that these beautiful machines must be in perfect condition to perform well. Consult our road bike maintenance guide for all the do's and don'ts to keep your bike running smoothly.

It's also imperative to pay attention to nutrition. For this we suggest you read our article on cycling nutrition where professional cyclist and ambassador of The Cyclist House, Cédrine Kerbaol, explains everything you need to know about this crucial part of peak performance. And if this is your first time riding 100km or more, be sure to check out our pro tips for a long run.

Cédrine Kerbaol in training.

In conclusion

In this article, we've given you everything you need to succeed when you decide to take on a cyclosportive. From how to choose it to tips on how to prepare for it. The most important thing when you decide to ride a cyclo is to be aware of the decision you are making, as the overall goal is for you to enjoy the ride.

Don't forget to check the route, your equipment, but most of all to understand the limits of your body and your sensations during the preparation. With this in mind, tell us in the comments if you have already done a cyclosportive or if you plan to do one. Have a good ride!

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