In this tongue-in-cheek guest post, cycling blogger Andrew Montgomery returns to London Cyclist to ask why exactly you haven’t signed up for a sportive in 2014.
Are you a cyclist that has always fancied taking part in a sportive, but never quite got round to it?
You recall Britain’s golden cyclosummer in 2012; you were inspired by the sight of 15,000 riders taking to London’s closed roads in last year’s inaugural RideLondon event.
But you never quite got around to doing a sportive, did you?
Or preparing for one. Or entering one.
The time for hesitation is over. Now is the moment of action.
What’s that though? You still have some sneaky excuses, residing deep within your tortured psyche?
Do not fear. I am your cycling Gandalf the Grey, here to offer wisdom and sensible counsel. And then to send you off to Mordor on your own to fend for yourself. Ahem.
I will smite those excuses. Via the medium of a blog post. Which is what Gandalf would have done if Middle Earth had had broadband.
Important note: In no way is this a list of straw man arguments that I set up and then knock down in order to encourage you to take part in a sportive. Nope, not at all.
With that said, onto the first excuse…
You Don’t Want To Get Fitter (Or Lose Weight)
You’re already a glowing specimen of human health. Your six pack gleams in the mirror. People swoon when they see you in shorts.
(But enough about me… etc… etc… (natch)).
Perhaps you’re the other way inclined. You seek out domestiques to pace your effort up the Col du Stairs to your bedroom. You grunt inadvertently when you bend down to tie your shoes laces.
There are other ways to get fit. Join a gym. Go running. Take up parkour.
Alright, you could do those things.
But to my mind (and probably yours too, since you’re reading a cycling blog!), cycling is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to do a bit of exercise without really thinking about it. It’s easy on the joints. You can start slowly and build up speed and distance covered.
Signing up to take part in a sportive provides focus and motivation, turning cycling from an occasional activity into a habit.
You’re Quite Happy With A Trundling Cycle Commute
Modern life takes place at such a rapid pace. No one has time for quiet reflection. You’ve bought into the whole Slow Food thing. You’re happy to be part of the Slow Cycling movement.
What if I said that I can show you how to knock 10 minutes off your morning commute, just by training for a sportive?
Twenty more minutes to spend in bed, to spend with your partner, to spend in bed with your partner.
Splashes cold water on face
Get ready for some maths!
Let’s say you commute 10 miles to work and it takes you an hour. Your average speed is 10mph.
Now, as a result of your sportive training programme, you’ve upped your average speed to 12mph. Those same 10 miles now take you 50 minutes.
Thusly, you’ve created 10 minutes of new time out of nothing. That’s maths. That’s physics.
Next excuse! I’m on a roll here.
(Disclaimer: I can’t promise that you’ll reduce your commuting time. I can’t control the traffic lights. I’m not omnipotent. This is a blog post. What do you want? The moon on a stick?)
You’re A Miser
I’m not exactly sure why you’re bringing up your monetary proclivities as an excuse for not riding a sportive. Whatever. Prepare to be rebutted.
Come on people, think of the children! The orphaned cats!
By not participating in a sportive, you’re missing out on the opportunity to raise a large amount of money for charity.
Sportive riding occupies that sweet spot of appearing difficult to the lay observer (“What?! You’re planning to ride for 100 miles? In one day?”) whilst, in practice, being enjoyable and achievable (provided you put the work in beforehand).
You don’t have to complete 7 marathons in seven days (on seven continents); you don’t have to swim the channel.
All you have to do is ride your bike for between 6 and 8 hours and ask those lay observers for sponsorship. Last year I took part in the RideLondon 100 event and raised £1,547 for Macmillan.
You Don’t Like Change
If you’re anything like me, you like eating the same thing every day (Little Chef Beans and Sausages), you wear the same clothes (Batman Returns t-shirt), you stare balefully at the same piece of wall in your computer cupboard.
But change can be good.
Entering a sportive will introduce you to cycle routes and climbs that you’ve never ridden before. You’ll encounter unusual people (“Why is that larger gent wearing a skin suit, aero helmet and riding a time trial bike?”). You’ll surprise yourself with the amount of free cake you consume at the end of a hard event.
Shake things up a bit. Enter a sportive.
You Don’t Want An Excuse To Buy A New Bike
This is more likely to be an excuse promoted by your partner (“I don’t want to give you an excuse to get another bike”). So let’s deal with that.
Cliché… cliché… n+1… ideal number of bikes… cliché… etc
Cliché it may be, but I have yet to meet anyone with an interest in bikes (even a passing one) who neither lusts after a new bike nor feels their cycling would be improved in some way by a new purchase.
You absolutely can do a sportive on your hybrid bike. If you ride a mountain bike, you may want to switch to road tyres.
Let’s face it though, many people sign up to ride a sportive in order to give them an excuse to buy a new road bike, either straight away or once they’ve demonstrated that regular road riding is something they’re going to pursue.
As a strategy for gaining spousal approval for the purchase of a new bike, I find the following logic extremely persuasive (well I would, I suppose):
- You want to do more cycling in order to get fit, lose weight, spend more time with the family (a classic – never fails)
- You’ve signed up to take part in a sportive in order to maintain high motivation levels and ensure your new-found passion develops into a habit
- Since your sportive is a challenging distance, and most of your friends consider you incapable of riding more than 5 miles, you’ve decided to tap them up for sponsorship
- It just doesn’t seem right that you should be participating in the event on your 10-year-old hybrid
- For crud’s sake, think of the children!
- Let’s go to the bike shop
So there we have it.
Preparing for a sportive provides motivation to train, get fitter and lose weight. It offers a handy excuse for loading up on bike-based bling. The trip to purchase a brand new bike becomes the act of a (lycra-clad) Mother Theresa rather than a greedy (bikes-not-shoes) Imelda Marcos.
I think we can all agree that I have successfully beaten down any lingering resistance you may have to participating in a sportive in 2014. What are you waiting for?
If you enjoyed this post, I’m sure you’ll enjoy my blog, Sportive Cyclist, which helps novice cyclists prepare for and enjoy their first sportives.
I’ve created a collection of resources for sportive cyclists, including my 58-page ebook: 4 Steps To Your First Long Distance Sportive. Click here to find out more and download the Toolbox for FREE.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.