Cliffs and Crepes: My Review Of The RideStaffs Spring Forward Sportive 2019

RideStaffs Spring Forward Sportive

Despite the word being in the title of this blog, my guilty secret is that I haven’t actually taken part in a sportive since 2015.

Yes, I did the RideLondon 100 last year but for some reason I have a mental block around calling it a sportive. It’s a ‘mass participation cycling event’ (whatever that means).

It feels like 2019 is the year in which this situation needs to change. Sportive-a-go-go. And where better to start than a local ride at the start of April. The RideStaffs Spring Forward Sportive.

I was encouraged to participate by the organiser, Paul, who also happens to read this blog (he tells me…).

He piqued my interest when we met and spoke about how he designs his routes (a conversation that led to my recent post about designing a great cycling route).

I wanted to test his route planning credentials in the hot crucible of a live sportive (er, what…?). So I signed up.

Read moreCliffs and Crepes: My Review Of The RideStaffs Spring Forward Sportive 2019

Hybrid vs Road Bike: What Is The Difference? (And Can I Use A Hybrid For A Sportive?!)

hybrid vs road bike

Some experienced cyclists might scoff at this question (though surely not you, noble reader of Sportive Cyclist). I think it’s a perfectly valid one.

I haven’t done a survey (perhaps I should), but I can’t imagine many prospective sportive cyclists wake up one day, having not ridden a bike in 20+ years, and think, ‘I must sign up for a sportive,’ and, while they’re at it, ‘I must buy a shiny, narrow-tired road steed‘.

Many people may own a bike already, perhaps for commuting or for family cycling activities, and there’s a fair chance that this is a hybrid (or perhaps a ‘roadified’ mountain bike – fitted with less knobbly tires etc).

For those that do awaken having undergone a cycling epiphany, they’ll generally seek to buy one bike to satisfy their new-found pedal-powered needs (bit of commuting, bit of child-seat lugging, bit of fitness riding). A hybrid-for-all-seasons might prove a tempting prospect.

(Of course, then they buy it and immediately the Pandora’s box is opened and they become subject to the one bike ownership formula to rule them all.)

I knew a girl at school called Pandora. Never got to see her box though – Spike, Notting Hill

Read moreHybrid vs Road Bike: What Is The Difference? (And Can I Use A Hybrid For A Sportive?!)

How To Measure Power On An Indoor Trainer

Elite Crono Fluid trainer on patio

Everyone seems obsessed about power these days.

Chris Froome spends all his time looking down at the power figure on his bike computer (on his stem) so that he can measure out his effort over a ludicrous long distance time trial that results in him winning the Giro d’Italia.

Sticking with Team Sky, power meters are accused of being the main tool by which the Sky Train supposedly sucks the excitement out of life on every Alpine Tour climb*.

(* No I don’t believe that is the case).

Back in the (very much) amateur cycling world, I succumbed to the promise that having a power meter (I’ve got a ‘left only’ Stages crank-mounted one) would instantly transform my training approach and fire my fitness levels into the stratosphere (spoiler alert: it turns out you still have to do the work…).

The good thing about training indoors, if you’re interested in measuring power, is that there are many more options versus measuring power on an outdoors ride. And not all of them involve departing with vast amounts of moolah.

Let’s get into them.

Read moreHow To Measure Power On An Indoor Trainer

Protecting The Undercarriage: Best Cycling Shorts For Sportive Riders In 2019

Best Cycling Shorts For Endurance

The cyclist’s journey towards velo mastery involves progressively replacing each item of clothing in their wardrobe with the equivalent garment made out of Lycra (Spandex to our US brethren). Cycling shorts are generally first on the list.

In this post, I’ll explore the exciting world of padded gussets and elasticated waistbands, and then give a few recommended shorts for you to check out.

Read moreProtecting The Undercarriage: Best Cycling Shorts For Sportive Riders In 2019

How To Plan A Great Road Cycling Route

How To Plan A Cycling Route

I should start this post by saying that I don’t have a definitive answer for this. I am, however, interested in exploring the question.

Until recently, the question of cycling route design, on a personal level, hadn’t really occurred to me, beyond an ill-formed notion floating somewhere at the back of my mind.

I know that organisers of, say, the Tour de France spend ages determining the specific route each year (although that’s as much about fleecing start and finish towns for cash as it is about making the route interesting for riders and spectators).

I assumed organisers of sportives must give some thought to route (after all, how would they know where to put those little yellow arrow signs).

But when it comes to planning my personal rides, whether solo, with my brother-in-law or as part of my nascent village MAMILpeloton, route tends be decided quite quickly, often on the hoof (cleat?) based on how much time I/we have, how tired we feel, whether its raining.

So, the question again, should we be giving this decision more thought and attention?

Read moreHow To Plan A Great Road Cycling Route

The (Bike) Tools That I Use Most: 6 ‘Must Have’ Implements

6-bike-tools-for-road-cycling

Gweetings. In this post I’m going to talk about the bike tools I use the most on my magical cycling adventures. Or ‘bike maintenance’, as normal people might call it.

No particular science was applied (plus ça change). I took a mental canter through my memory banks and tried to think about the implements I’d had most cause to use in recent years.

Then I wrote them down. Hopefully this will prove useful if you’re starting your own cycling tool collection, or wondering what all the cool grease gurus are tinkering with.

Or something. On with the show!

Read moreThe (Bike) Tools That I Use Most: 6 ‘Must Have’ Implements

The Roads I Ride: Road Cycling In Derbyshire

Cycling in the Peak District

I’m very fortunate, as a cyclist, to live where I do. I live on a quiet country lane which sees as many tractors as it sees cars. In fact, on a nice day, more bikes will pass by (with people on them) than motorised vehicles.

Unlike when I lived in south east London, I don’t have to ride for 30 minutes just to leave suburbia and traffic.

I thought I’d share a little about my local cycling environs, and the sorts of rides I do in them. I doubt the Peak District needs much extra publicity (even if it is not the second most visited national park in the world), but if I can encourage a few more cyclists to ride in this part of the world, I’ll be a happy yellow jonny.

By the way, this post isn’t meant to come over all self-congratulating. After all, it’s not like I live in the Alps, Majorca or Calpe (which seems to have gone to the top of my family holiday/training camp visit list).

Read moreThe Roads I Ride: Road Cycling In Derbyshire

Into The Light: CatEye Volt 800 and Lezyne KTV Pro Drive Rear 75 Review

Road bike with front and rear lights

The biggest (first world) problem in my life is finding time to do the things I say I want to do.

I’m not unusual – we’ve all got demands on our time. Work stuff. Partner stuff. Kids stuff. Houses stuff.

All that stuff tends to crowd out my time to get out on the bike.

No more is this felt than during the winter months.

Work always seems to be busier. The hours available to ride are fewer and there’s more likelihood that the hours that are available are marred by inclement (at best) or thoroughly miserable weather.

Read moreInto The Light: CatEye Volt 800 and Lezyne KTV Pro Drive Rear 75 Review

Minimalist Cycling (Or How To Write A Lot of Words When Just A Few Will Do)

cycling minimalism

Right. It’s time to go a bit off the wall.

In this post I’m talking about cycling and minimalism.

I decided to write about the topic because I’ve been thinking about minimalism (and the potential benefits) in my life more generally and I wondered whether I could wrangle some cycling-specific plus points out of the subject.

Also, you know, it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to (write about minimalism if I want to).

Read moreMinimalist Cycling (Or How To Write A Lot of Words When Just A Few Will Do)

How To Train For Road Cycling In 2019

Cycling training in Derbyshire

Start of year. Thoughts turn to rides you’d like to do later in the year. Or perhaps, post Christmas, just losing weight and getting fitter.

In this post I’ll have a look at the different strategies (now there’s a grand word) for how you might do that in 2019.

Whilst the fundamentals of training haven’t changed a great deal (although I imagine those cunning sports scientists are beavering away in their labs), the tools available to the everyday cyclist to harness those fundamentals are becoming more diverse and interesting.

Read moreHow To Train For Road Cycling In 2019