Struggle Moors Preparation: Part One


Struggle Moors sportive in the Yorkshire Moors

Cycling in the 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 Yorkshire National Park. Here’s our top tips to prepare you for one of the hardest sportives you’ll come across…

1. Test the Terrain 

What sets Struggle Moors apart is the challenging terrain between the climbs. There’s little opportunity to press on in the early part of the course; with steep kickers and uncategorised ascents around every corner. 

If you have the opportunity to venture into this other-worldly expanse we recommend doing so. Alternatively, head out on your hilliest local route to familiarise the body and mind with your planned pacing for event day. Lower your climbing speed and tackle each ascent as if it were Boltby Bank (climb No.1 on Struggle Moors), picturing the 100 hilly miles over the horizon. 

2. Select your 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 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 32 is out of stock or your mechanic can’t fit you in until 9th July!

3. Dodge Mechanical Blunders 

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. Plan a Fun Weekender

With our accommodation at the start line now fully booked, you’ll need to find your digs without delay. Make a weekend of it for you and the family by staying at one of the fantastic nearby towns and cities in North Yorkshire.

York offers plenty of attractions for families, 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 at the Giant York Bike Shop in the city centre. 

Other great places to stay include the award-winning market town of Helmsley, with upmarket hotels and a great choice of restaurants. There’s the easily accessible town of Thirsk and Ampleforth also offers a good choice of B&Bs and pubs with grub and rooms. The Carpenters Arms in Felixkirk is Struggle Events’ top pick of places to eat, with rooms also available.  

5. Stick it to Sugar  

Diet is a banned word at Struggle HQ. Yet, we’re aware the science of power-to-weight ratio cannot be ignored. If you’re after any advantage on the Struggle Moors climbs, think about what you put in your mouth in the lead-up to the sportive. The easiest way to lean down is to ditch unnecessary sugar. 

Breakfast: Swop sugary cereals for eggs on toast or porridge, which will also fill you up for longer and fuel your day’s training. 

Lunch: Make it yourself! Even the healthiest looking shop-bought sandwich, cereal bar and bottle of water with ‘a hint of lemon’ will have more sugar than your recommended daily allowance.

Dinner: Recover post-training and deplete your energy stores pre-sleep with a lower carb, high protein meal (unless you have a long ride planned the next day). 

Snacks: Only snack if you are hungry (rather than bored) or fuelling for a training session. Ditch the sweet treats and have something nutritional like a slice of toast with almond butter.

6. Master the Gradients 

If you completed Struggle Dales you’ll be at an advantage; having plenty of hill training in the bank and a mountainous century in your legs. Time to ramp up your hill training (literally) by taking on some vicious ascents. 

Seek out your steepest hill which offers a tough 3 to 4 minute effort - and start repping! Focus on correct gear selection at the foot of the climb and learn to really lean over the front of the bike and practice using the sideways momentum of the bike under you for leverage - whilst trying not to pull to tightly on the bars. 

You can now download the Struggle Moors Rider Manual.

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