The sportive season begins in earnest next month.
March will see the number of no-frills reliability rides decrease as clubs turn their attention to early season competition, and the organisers of sportives step forward with events to meet the demand for mass participation rides. The two-day Mid Wales Challenge, the Endura Trek Lionheart, taking in the beautiful grounds of Wiltshire’s Longleat House, and Cheshire’s hugely popular Wiggle Cheshire Cat ride are three of March’s biggest early-season sportives.
With the four weeks of February ahead of us, there’s still time to structure your training rides, improve your technique, and choose some gear before the sportive season kicks off. We’ll be bringing you training tips from some of the nation’s top cycling coaches, nutrition advice from Matt Hart of Torq Fitness to ensure you’re correctly fueled, and further dispatches from the European sportive scene courtesy of Andrew Thompson for readers planning continental challenge this year.
Bicycle manufacturers have responded to the enormous growth in popularity of sportives with designs to appeal to those seeking a personal challenge rather than a race. Gone are the days when the enthusiast squeezing time on the bike into a hectic schedule of family and work commitments was forced on to machines designed for a 20-year-old, 60kg pro cyclist at liberty to train six hours a day. We’ll be taking a closer look at sportive geometry through the eyes of some of the industry’s top designers, and testing three such machines: the Kinesis Gran Fondo Ti, the Cannondale Synapse Apex, and the Stevens Ventoux.
With the season (hopefully!) set to change at the end of the month, we’ll also be testing spring clothing, with garments from Endura, Pearl Izumi, and Rapha. Lightweight shells and gloves, thermo-lined shorts with leg warmers, bibknicks, gillets and arm warmers are all on our test agenda.
And today we unveil our sportive calendar, a quick and easy way to check events near you. It includes a map to guide you to an event’s start point and synchronises with your iCal or Google calendar to make sure your goal doesn’t slip from your schedule.
Add in previews, reports, and interviews from the London round of the UCI Track World Cup, the launch of the 2012 Rapha Condor Sharp squad, and our usual mix of gear reviews, competitions, race coverage, interviews with pro cyclists, and glances back at cycling’s glorious history, and February looks like being a busy month on RCUK. So stay tuned – and don’t forget to have your say on all these issues in the forum.