Velothon advice for the sportive newbie

I’ve been asked by a few people for tips on how to approach the Velothon and the day of the event itself. So wearing my coaching/racing/having a good time on the bike hats, I’ve cobbled together a few tips for the big day itself (all equally applicable to any other sportive).

  • Go to bed at a decent time the night before – the chances of a good kip are pretty low with all those pre-event nerves swilling around. Give yourself the best opportunity to perform by being rested.
  • Eat a decent breakfast – an army marches on its stomach as the old adage goes, and endurance events call for big calorie intakes. Porridge, mountains of toast, bananas; go with tried and tested but calorifically high food stuffs.
  • Pack your rear pockets/saddle bag – inner tubes, multi tool, pump, phone, small waterproof, emergency tenner, gels, energy bars. These are the basics and should see you through most emergencies.
  • Arrive in good time – I remember arriving at an event 2 minutes before it started, jumped out of the car, hopped on my bike and sprinted to join the back of the race as as the gun fired (2005 3 peaks cyclo-cross). Not fun. Give yourself every opportunity to relax and soak up the atmosphere. 
  • Keep it cool in the pack – with 15,000 or so riders there will be a lot of people unfamiliar with riding in the bunch. Be aware, look around, don’t overlap wheels if you can help it and keep out of trouble. Don’t be afraid to talk either; communication is a key and undervalued cycling skill.
  • Keep munching – you’ll be expending energy at a rate of knots. Gels will sort out quick bursts of energy, whilst bars will keep the fires burning for longer. Don’t forget though; as Penarth cyclist Steve Castle (@Stevecastle) points out, please be respectful with any rubbish from packaging around energy products and dispose of it properly.
  • Play the long game – unless you’re a super committed pro-rider with exceptional climbing abilities, there is little point in chucking everything at it from the go; it’ll come back to haunt you. Pace yourself and be the judge of effort as the event develops. Feeling good 75% of the way through it? Give it some yip-yah.
  • Enjoy yourself – how often to opportunities like this arise? Beautiful countryside, massive field, closed roads…..please….in the name of all that’s sane and good….have fun 😊

Velothon Wales cycle-sportive and pro-race takes place on Sunday the 14th June, starting and finishing in Cardiff and taking in lots of the lumpy bits in my backyard. 

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