Cycling in the Dales or Moors is like cycling on Mars; a world away from most riders’ natural terrain. Even the mountain munchers among us will feel alien to the relenting undulation and ferocious gradients of the North York Moors or Yorkshire Dales National Park. Here’s our top tips to prepare you for one of the hardest sportives you’ll come across…
1. Knowledge is King
Ignorance is not bliss! Study the route map in your Road Book, check out the climb stats on Strava and be sure to use your top tube sticker (in your rider pack at sign-on). Knowledge is ammunition in this almighty battle. Head for the hills blind and the climbs will beat you. Ride clever and you'll be the Victor.
2. Granny Gears
Don’t be a hero and rock up on a 39 x 25! Last year’s riders were all geared up to go with a 30 or 32 tooth cassette; the additional gears both combat the 33% gradients and allow you to spin your legs on the gentler slopes.
Don’t leave your gear selection to the last minute and panic when your gears are jumping on event day. Make sure you've fitted your cassette with plenty of time and gone for a test ride.
3. Bike Breakdown
Speaking of bike maintenance, our mechanics on the Struggle Dales route helped lots of riders get back on the route after suffering mechanical failures. Plenty of these breakdowns could have been avoided by getting the bike serviced in a timely fashion.
Don’t wait until the weekend of the sportive to fit a new chain and cassette, meddle with jumping gears or fit new cables. Give your bike the TLC in needs now, which gives you plenty of time to ride it and look out for cable stretch, chain crunch or jumping gears.
4. Well-Planned Weekender
Harrogate and York offer plenty of attractions for families and a cosmopolitan vibe for friends or couples to enjoy. You’re also spoilt for choice when fuelling up the night before. What’s more, our Express Sign-on is held the day before so grab your Rider Pack and get yourself ready early.
Never let yourself get hungry or thirsty in the lead up to a big event. Snack often and keep sipping water. We throw in an hydro tab (one per day), keeping our body's electrolyte levels in check to ward of cramp, which will no doubt try to bite you in the latter part of the ride.