Cyclosportives Tips & Tricks

My Level of riding
Let's get this straight.   I'm nothing more than your average third cat rider.  I'm 47 and came to cycling when I was 25.  I came from a car racing background so love the engineering and science and technology in cycling.  I'm always tinkering and will try anything to make my life easier.  Here's what I've found so far.

Food & Drink
Always carry more food than you can eat and never pass a feed station with only one bottle filled.  Be self sufficient as far as gels and food go. Some of the food in some of the races is less palatable then others.  Not everything will be to your taste so take your own and use theirs as back up.  Never leave the last feed without stocking up with food. 

Fill your bottles with your energy drink at the start and drink half from one before switching to the other.  You don't want to finish a bottle then drop your full one!  Always have an option.  Never leave a feed station with an empty bottle.  If you need to you can jettison extra drink later.  If you haven't got any left, again you've limited your options.

Gears for the Mountains
In 2003 I did the Marmotte with a 53x39 and a 12~25 block.  Some bits hurt more than others but I got round and was the first of our group to the top of the Galibier.  Experience triumphing over youth and strength.

Three better than Two?
In 2004 I went triple.  Had the odd struggle especially when the 15 kilometre Col de Portel took on a vicious 3 km at 12% ascent but I didn't have to walk like many hundreds of others.  Not sure if the triple forces you to change to too low a gear just because it's available.  Would recommend one if you want to get up big hills.  It saved my bacon on more than one occasion.

Compact, Triple or Double?
In 2005 I'm going to fit a compact chainset.  Weight and q-factor considerations are at the forefront of my mind, although I've never had any cause for concern with the q-factor of my Campag Record Triple and the weight isn't much more than a double.  So it's probably down to having a new toy for the new year and trying something different.  I'll report back after the first few events.

For any events with cobbles in make sure you do the following

Fit Elite Patao bottle cages
Loctite cage bolts then tape over with duct tape
Fit a steel stem ~ dump magnesium & carbon ones
Always carry a stem sized allen key
Wear the best gloves you can afford
Fit 28mm Schwalbe Stelvio Rain Tyres
Keep tyre pressures around 80 - 100 psi
Secure computers and seat bags with velcro & tyraps

The fun bit about the Tour of Flanders was dodging water bottles and seat packs.  I even saw a seat and pin go flying down the road!  The Patao cages were perfect and not once did I get a loose bottle.  The cage came loose though so loctite to get a grip and tape over the top as a double secure measure.  If the bolts do come loose you can't lose them as the tape and bottle will keep them there . 

My handlebars moved three times and I had to stop to tighten the bolts.  No matter how tight I did the bolt the bars always moved when I hit a massive pot hole.  However doing the bolt too tight would snap the bolt rather than allow the bars to droop.  So always err on the side of caution.

Your body takes a battering like you wouldn't believe.  Good gloves or even some strategically placed double bar tape could help. 

The Stelvio's were perfect giving loads of grip on the shoulder and plenty of absorption.  Sure it was bumpy but I never felt out of control.

Computers are as good as useless because you can't see them on the cobbles.  But they do allow you to record your elapsed time; as long as they're still on the bike at the end.