HOW TO RIDE THE EVENT
A sportive is a non competitive event. You are challenging yourself against the course and you want to set a decent time.
In recent years the term "negative split" and " has popped up in a number of sports including cycling. Negative split means that you go faster in the second half of the event than the first. This is what you are aiming for. You set off at a steady tempo for the first few miles, your body is like a car engine it takes a while to get up to the optimum temperature and to get the blood flowing through the muscles. Don`t be tempted to try a stick with a faster group you"ll eventually get dropped and risk blowing up. Get yourself into a nice comfortable rythym if there are other riders around you going at the same pace well and good. Your breathing should be easy and you should be able to talk to other riders around you without any difficulty breathing.
Once you have been riding for approx 15/20 minutes this is the time to start eating. I`m not saying you need to start stuffing hand fulls of energy bars down your neck but a bite of energy bar, banana or a gel and a swig of your energy drink will suffice. The idea is to do this all the way through the ride. This is important as it will keep you fuelled and hydrated. It`s a good idea to have one bottle with an energy drink in it and another with just water and take drink them alternatively.
Okay we have reached the half way point and in most sportives this is where the feeding station is situated. By all means stop and restock your supplies a few gels, a couple of bananas, refill your bottles but don`t stand around chatting for 15/20 minutes. After 2/3 minutes you will start to get cold and your muscles will start to tighten up. If you do get cold and your muscles are stiff when you restart it will take your body another 15/20 minutes to get warmed up again. It will ruin the rythem that you had before the stop and it all eats into time lost and you might also catch a chill.
The second half of the event. By now you should in the " zone" another term that has crept into sports terminology. This is the feeling that you get when everything has started to come together. Your body is well fuelled you are well hydrated your energy levels are up because you have been eating and drinking regulary and most importantly you have set a good pace which is well within yourself. Nows the time to push on. Start using a slightly higher gear and start pushing on the pedals a bit harder. If you using a computer or heart rate moniter its easy to moniter. If you have been following eveything I have suggested you will be motoring along by now and will find that you will start to catch and overtake riders that set of too fast at the start. Its important not to go too hard when you come to a climb back off a bit and set a nice pace. Choose a gear that you can pedal easily whilst climbing sat down. Its quicker to go up a climb a little bit slower than you would normaly, when you get to the top instead of being in oxygen debt and spending the next 10 minutes trying to recover. If you have ridden up it at a sensible pace you should be able to push on at the top with out losing any time. Overall its a lot quicker than trying to sprint up it, then dying then having to waste time trying to recover. It also uses a lot more energy.
The last 15/20 miles of a sportive tend to be flat or undulating. Most organisers including myself usually plan the hard sections in the middle of the route and the last 25% of the ride is usually the easiest. But this is where most riders start to stuggle. They have either set off to fast or have not eaten or drank enough along the way. This is where you can gain the most time you should be finishing the event faster than when you started in the morning.
Good luck with your ride, give it a try it works