That time of year is almost upon us once again. The largest cycling sportive in the UK calendar, Ride London attracts thousands of riders from all over the world, with varying degrees of experience and motivations.
It’s a cornucopia of lycra, wheels and (almost) most importantly... flapjack! And this year, there's the extra dimension: heat.
If you’re one of the lucky riders who’ll be taking part, either as a seasoned pro or sportive newbie, we’ve put together a few key essentials to help you make your ride as enjoyable as possible.
If you'd like more advice on how to cope with the heat, check out our blog here.
Plan and check your kit the night before
Walking out with at least one key item left on the table in a haze of early morning bleariness could easily ruin your day. Write a list and work through it. It may sounds a bit boring but trust us, it works!
Helmets are compulsory at Ride London, but items such as good shoes, water bottles, identification and money are just as crucial to ensuring you’ll be fine should anything go horribly wrong.
Check the weather
Heading out of the door with a summer wardrobe when the forecast says rain is likely to become pretty miserable. If you can’t decide, use lightweight layers as these will fold down nicely into your jersey back pockets so you can change easily as you go along.
Get the right gear
To make your ride as enjoyable as possible, as a minimum you should have:
In addition, a pair of cycling gloves will protect your hands from the threat of blisters as the miles stack up, and a cap can make those sweaty helmets so much more comfortable - they also keep the helmet hair at bay post-ride and (not many people know this) can also cool you down if it's stinking hot. Simply dunk your cap in cool water!
Think of it like this; the more comfortable you are, the more comfortable the ride will be, and after all you’re there to enjoy yourself!
Hydrate & Refuel
Especially crucial in the heatwave of 2018! Make sure you have a minimum of one full water bottle with you on the ride, and top up regularly at the feed stations along the way! Ensuring you are hydrated before you set off (within reason!) will stand you in good stead for the ride.
Just make sure you sip little and often to avoid any onset of dehydration.
As much as you might not feel hungry as you approach the first feed station, that probably won't be the case half way to the second! Take every opportunity to stock your body up with the energy it needs to get you through, and lets be honest, who doesn't like free flapjack and jelly babies?!
Having said that, gels and isotonic aids are often best left until you're really up against it... stomach aches in the middle of a ride are not something to be savoured!
For more tips about keeping your tummy happy on the bike, nutritionist Rebecca Nourse's has written us a very useful blog for us. Read it here.
Ride in a Group
Whether you're riding with friends or on your own, finding a group you can ride along with will make life so much easier.
Not only can you share the workload, but you'll find the majority of people will have something in common with you other than the event... you could make some friends for life!
This is often overlooked, but being able to freshen up after you’ve been in the saddle for several hours not only makes you feel like a whole new person, but can prevent bacteria thriving in those more intimate areas.
If you can get to a shower, take a minimum of a towel and shower gel, and try to get out of your shorts as soon as possible after you finish.
Don’t let it daunt you!
From the distances to the sheer size of the crowds or the abundance of lycra, there's plenty of things which are likely to take you out of your comfort zone.
Don't let it daunt you, embrace it, it's one of the few times you'll have closed roads and such an amazing atmosphere for a cycling sportive!
You are capable of so much more than you think you are, so grab the adventure with both hands!
Got any handy sportive tips to share? Post them in the comments below!