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Sportive and Cycling Challenges

sportive_and_cycling_challengesWhether for the personal glory and the pushing of boundaries or for the noble act of charity fundraising, taking on your first major sportive or organised cycling challenge can be a daunting prospect, but with a little preparation and a common sense approach there’s nothing to fear in taking the plunge. To help ease the way into stepping up to the challenge Cyclo talked to a range of experts to bring you the help and advice you’ll need to succeed…



‘Before you get to the start make sure your bike is in good working order – oiled, cleaned, brakes and gears working well. In fact you should make sure you stay on top of your bike maintenance all year round… Also make sure you’ve tried and tested your nutrition, whether it’s gels or bars. Make sure you like it and that it agrees with you. The same goes for liquids – it’s really important to keep ahead of dehydration by taking fluids in regularly. Once you start to get dehydrated it’s difficult to catch up again.


‘Chat to other riders around you and ride in a group if you can, as this is what cycling all about; it’s the fastest way to the finish too (after all there’s a reason the pros do it.) Everyone riding is there to have fun and cycling is great for getting to know other people.’


David Bryant, Head Ride Captain – HotChillee



‘Familiarise yourself with the event route; full details will almost always be available before the event – have a look, note major way points, note any hazards. Also prepare to be self-sufficient at an event, at the very least this means a puncture kit and pump, but think about some other essentials that you might need, a rain jacket or a spare inner tube perhaps. Even if there is on-course assistance, no one enjoys being soaking wet and cold or a having trip back to event HQ in the broom wagon!


Make sure you’re fully fuelled before the event too. Think about how much food and drink you’ll need to consume along the way. Sports foods are very portable, such as energy gels or bars, but there’s always room in my jersey pockets for a banana or a hot-cross bun.


‘Pace the ride and enjoy yourself; don’t rush off with the speed merchants or get swept along by them as they pass, don’t see people in the distance and chase them down. Work out your own desired pace and stick to it, there’s nothing worse than blowing up halfway round a sportive.’


Chris Royston – Newmarket Cycling & Triathlon Club



‘My advice to anyone approaching a sportive for the first time is be realistic in your expectations; always be prepared to drop down to a shorter route if your legs are tiring.


‘Amongst the multitude of commercial sportives, there are many challenging charity events that deserve close inspection. The GSD Giant is one such event and it’s close to my heart because it supports people living with a very rare group of metabolic disorders concerning every keen cyclist’s obsession: glycogen storage. With insufficient glycogen in the liver and muscles, even a healthy and well-trained cyclist will rapidly “hit the wall” or “bonk”. So you should always take great care to store this complex sugar, perhaps by eating a good pasta meal the day before and topping it up regularly throughout a long ride.


‘To keep your legs alive you’ll need to top up your fluids and nutrition at the feed stations but also on the bike. On longer events you need to find what works for you; personally I find that flap-jacks are excellent for giving me a quick boost followed by a sustained flow of energy for 20 to 25miles, and they don’t upset my stomach; I also use one or two energy gels well in advance of steep inclines.’


Allan Muir – Gentle South Downs Giant



‘Always turn up on time to the start of your event – there’s nothing worse than missing out or having to play catch up; it’s stress you can really do without. Across the Divide always provide event manuals with everything you need to know about a specific event – with any reading materials you are given, take the time to actually read them.


‘If you train appropriately for your event, do some research, ask some questions you should minimise any stress and give yourself a great opportunity to complete a fantastic challenge and perhaps, most importantly, have some fun!’


Steve Cooper, UK Events Manager – Across the Divide



‘Pacing is always one of the most common challenges faced by event participants. The key to getting it right is taking a good look at the route profile before the event day. Try to get a grasp of when significant climbs occur on the route and the rough distances between them so you can be prepared; like any endurance sports event it’s important not to go too fast too soon!


‘Nailing your nutrition and hydration strategy is hugely important. Consider that most sportives, particularly the longer ones, will set off early in the morning, often around 7am, so be sure to take on a good amount of carbohydrates the day before – it’s not ideal, or easy to be taking on a big meal at 5am, or earlier. Take a look at the feed station layout, so you know when these are coming up and importantly try and find out what product will be available to ensure you are comfortable with it and, if not, be sure to carry enough of your own supplies to get you round.


‘A variety of clothing options is useful too, whilst it can seem sunny and warm at an event start venue, often you are climbing high into the mountains where you may be greeted by very different conditions.


‘Finally a good night’s rest can make all the difference on event day. If you are travelling to a sportive a long distance away we always recommend staying over in the area the night before so you can get a good sleep and arrive at the venue raring to go.’


Dan Lipman, Senior Marketing Manager – Human Race Ltd


If you’re looking for further advice Cyclo have supported Pilgrims Hospices with a ‘top tips’ feature than can be read here and Across the Divide’s Steve Cooper offers further information on tackling a sportive or cycling challenges here.


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HotChillee’s 2014 Alpine Challenge

HotChillee’s 2014 Alpine ChallengeEntries for HotChillee’s 2014 Alpine Challenge, taking place on September 3-7 next year, open at 12:00 on October 1. Part of HotChillee’s Global Event Series, the three day event pushes riders’ mentally and physically, with a gruelling 8000+ metres of climb across approximately 330kms. This year’s route gave riders a taste of some of the most notorious Cols featured in the Tour de France including, Col de la Croix Fry, Col des Aravis, Col de la Forclaz and the Forêt de Quintal used as the final climb to Semnoz in this year’s Tour de France and L’Étape du Tour.


The event sees riders of all abilities, from across the globe, tackle the demanding alpine route; some are there to race for the prestigious Red and Pink Leaders’ Jersey, while others have more recently taken to cycling and see the challenge as finishing.  Rob Dewer, who completed this year’s Alpine Challenge, said: ‘After signing up to the Alpine Challenge I was relocated to New Zealand, but there was no way I was going to let a small detail of living across the other side of the world stop me riding the event. I’ve completed The London-Paris twice and was excited to be doing the event. The Alpine Challenge is exhausting, but coming into the finishing-straight is unbelievably rewarding. The organisation is second to none and I loved every section. And being able to socialise with riders of all abilities, from former Tour de France winners to those that are fairly new to riding, on the shores of Lake Annecy is great.’


For entry (from October 1) see and see the video below for highlights from the 2013 edition.




HotChillee London-Paris Early Bird Entry

HotChillee London-ParisFollowing the hugely successful 10th edition of the HotChillee London-Paris bike ride, organisers will open a limited number of first-come-first-served ‘early bird’ entries today (July 2) at 12 noon (BST) for the 2014 event, which is set to take place June 26-29. Ballot places will also be available after the initial early bird entries are full and will close on July 31, but be warned: these limited places have a reputation of selling out fast. The London-Paris, by HotChillee, has become a must-do event on the cycling calendar for those wanting to push their mental and physical limits in an event that replicates, as close as it’s possible to get, the professionals’ experience on a Grand Tour. With 260 crew working on the 450-rider event, it’s a premium experience that includes the same French motorbike outriders as those that work on the TdF


Split into six Seeded Speed Groups, each with their own Ride Captains, lead cars, mechanics, paramedics and support crew, the event is as professional as it gets. Riders cycle together as a peloton, but with timed race sections for the King of the Mountains, Sprinter and General Classification Jerseys There’s a place on The London-Paris for everyone, with the timed race sections split into Pro and Amateur categories.


Sven Thiele, HotChillee founder, says: ‘The last ten years has been such a journey. To be able to provide people with an experience they will never forget is an honour. Like the riders on our events, we are constantly looking to push our boundaries and our goal is to continue to deliver exceptional experiences; experiences that require you to give everything you have, but that give you an immeasurable amount back. Here’s to another ten years.’


For details see



HotChillee Development Rider Programme 2013

HotChillee Development Rider Programme 2013HotChillee have announced its Development Rider Programme (DRP) for the 2013 Cape Rouleur – the newest addition to HotChillee’s Global Event Series. As part of HotChillee’s commitment to investing in the communities in which it hosts events the DRP provides sponsorship to two young, talented and disadvantaged South African riders during its 600km multi-stage cycling event. This year’s riders are 21-year-old Reyatile Mthakathi, from Pitlochie in the Eastern Cape, and 17-year-old Nicholas Dlamini from Khayelitsha, Cape Town; both are incredibly talented and have risen from adversity. Sven Thiele, founder of HotChillee says: ‘All our riders are extraordinary people, many raising vast amounts of money for charity. South Africa has welcomed the HotChillee community with open arms and providing two local riders, passionate about cycling with an experience they otherwise would not have, is a big motivator for us.  I can’t wait to ride with Mthakathi and Dlamini…’


As part of the programme, Wattbike will sponsor their event entries and, along with Craft, provide both riders with kit; in addition Bontrager will provide shoes, helmets and gloves and Ben Bikes will provide a bike for Development Rider Reyatile Mthakathi to use throughout the event.


This year’s DRP recipients find themselves in good company as previous riders of HotChillee’s events include Tour de France winner Stephen Roche, 1988 World Champion Maurizio Fondriest, Paracycling double World Champion and 2012 Olympic team member Colin Lynch…


More on Cape Rouleur from Cyclo here or visit