Posted in Events
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Preparing and tackling a Fun distance sportive isn’t something to be scared of if you are new to cycling. All it requires is a bike, some good kit, planning and a bit of hard work to get the training in, then off you go...

In this guide we asked Radeon Cycle Coaching to put together some top tips on training for a fun distance sportive. 


Preparing for a Fun distance doesn’t need to consume hours and hours of endless hard intervals. What it does require is that you invest somewhere in the region of 4 hours a week; this can be relatively low intensity riding, designed to give you a good foundation to go on and attempt your first sportive.

Ideally you want to start looking at your training a minimum of 8 - 12 weeks out from the event (depending on your current level of fitness), obviously the earlier you start the better prepared you will be!

Below we have created a number of sample "sessions" you can perform on your bike to prepare for this kind of event. We use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale in the table below to gauge the effort that you put into each part of a session.

Table of sample "sessions" based on the RPE scale that can be used to prepare for a distance sportive

Example sessions

Session 1

Warm up:

  • As part of your warm up, ride for 5 minutes at Level 1 of the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). This means you will be breathing lightly and able to talk easily.
  • Then step things up, and ride for 5 minutes at Level 2 RPE; this means you'll be noticing the effort you are putting in.
  • Finally, step 3 of the warm up is to ride for 5 minutes at Level 3 RPE. Now you should be feeling warm and breathing a bit more heavily.


  • This is main part of your session.
  • After your warm up, return to Zone 2 and do 5 minutes here.
  • Then ramp things up again with 5 minutes in Zone 3.
  • Repeat these two steps three more times.
  • Concentrate on spinning your legs at a speed of 90+ Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)

Cool Down:

  • You've done the hard work now, time to cool down and spin things out
  • Do 5 minutes at Zone 3 RPE.
  • Then down to Zone 2 for 5 minutes, then finally take it really easy in Zone 1 for 5 minutes.
  • All the time concentrate on your breathing and on spinning your legs.

Session 2

Warm up:

  • 5 minutes in Zone 1 RPE
  • 5 minutes in Zone 2 RPE
  • 5 minutes in Zone 3 RPE


  • 5 minutes in Zone 2 RPE
  • 5 minutes in Zone 3 RPE
  • 2 minutes in Zone 4 RPE
  • Repeat 3 times.

Cool Down:

  • 5 minutes in Zone 3 RPE
  • 5 minutes in Zone 2 RPE
  • 5 minutes in Zone 1 RPE
  • Whilst easily spinning your legs aiming for a cadence (Pedalling Speed) of 90+ RPM

Session 3

Warm up:

  • 5 minutes in Zone 1 RPE
  • 5 minutes in Zone 2 RPE
  • 5 minutes in Zone 3 RPE


  • 3 minutes in Zone 2 RPE
  • 5 minutes in Zone 3 RPE
  • 2 minutes in Zone 4 RPE
  • 1 minute in Zone 5 RPE
  • Repeat 3 times

Cool Down:

  • 5 minutes in Zone 3 RPE
  • 5 minutes in Zone 2 RPE
  • 5 minutes in Zone 1 RPE

Whilst easily spinning your legs aiming for a cadence (Pedalling Speed) of 90+ RPM


  • The above sessions are only guidelines, and depend on your current level of fitness. You may need to keep using Session 1 for a couple of weeks, then move to Session 2 for a couple of weeks and so on.
  • Don’t rush yourself! Take your time and don’t over do it. Fitness comes from the recovery so constantly going out riding won’t make you any fitter and faster, in fact it may do more harm than good.
  • Terrain will also play a part in what shape your training may take, if it's fairly flat you won’t need to work too much on the higher Zone 6 - 10 of the RPE Scale, if the event demands are quite hilly, you would need to invest more time at this end of the scale after working and developing Zones 1 to 5 RPE at the beginning.

Technique Essentials

Alongside physical fitness, good technique is also important. Here are a few things to think about...

  • Braking: Make sure you know what lever operates front and back brakes. Favour the rear ever so slightly over the front as it’s less harsh. The movement of the rear brake also helps to let the rider behind know you’re stopping!
  • Descending: If descending, favour the rear brake over the front and shift your weigh back, look ahead at where you are going, and communicate any harsh stopping or slowing to other riders either verbally or by using hand signals.
  • Cornering: As you approach a corner, lift up your inside pedal and place your weight on the outside pedal. Adjust your speed before entering the corner, before it's too late! Look up to where you are going and identify any hazards. Avoid braking through corners, but if you do have to, use the rear brake only.
  • Group riding: When riding in a group, maintain a safe distance from the rider in front and cover your brakes at all times. Avoid overlapping wheels and clearly communicate to other riders any changes in direction or hazards that you spot.

Black and White photo of cyclists in action

Basic Nutrition

You need to make sure that you fuel your body for the task that it has to achieve. The best advice is to eat a well balanced and healthy diet. When introducing exercise into this we need to take this into account and follow a few simple pointers:

  • Plan what you are going to eat a couple of days before the event, plan what you’re eating before, during and after. 
  • Have a good meal the night before, which is high in carbohydrate; something like pasta, potatoes or bread.
  • During the ride make sure you have some foods high in carbohydrate and easy to eat whilst on the bike; cereal bars, Jaffa Cakes, dried fruit and bags of jelly sweets (Haribo!) are good for this
  • After your ride make sure you refuel your body and muscles by having a well rounded healthy dinner!
  • Drink plenty! As little as 1% dehydration will cause a decline in performance, 7 % and you will collapse. 2 hours before riding try to take on 500-750ml of water, and then aim to drink 100-150ml of water every 15-20mins. Keep drinking after the event to ensure you are re-hydrated. If the event is over an hour it may be worth adding in a carbohydrate drink, if its less than an hour water is all that is really needed.

A cyclist in full kit holding a water bottle

Kit Advice

For some advice on kit, check out our Sportive Checklist:

A male and female cyclist pose for a photo on their bikes
Sportive Checklist

About Radeon Coaching...

Radeon Cycle Coaching was founded by Stuart Gourley a keen cyclist. Stuart came late to the sport but developed the bug quickly. He enjoyed seeing an improvement in his riding and started looking to move to the next level both competitively and through developing others.

Stuart has completed the Level 2 British Cycling Coaching Qualification, Level 2 Road and Time Trial, Level 2 Cyclocross and is also completing Level 3 Road and Time Trial.

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