Sportives are organised road cycling events, which encourage you and other riders of all levels, to get out and ride. The events are ridden on a supported course, with feed stations and route marking.
Each event normally offers you a variety of course lengths and difficulty levels, allowing you to choose a challenge that suits your level of fitness and ability.
To ensure that you don't forget anything essential ahead of your big ride, here is our Sportive Checklist.
The Wiggle Sportive Checklist
- Road bike
- Cycle jersey and shorts
- Base layer
- Waterproof packable jacket
- Leg warmers and arm warmers
- Cycling cap
- Cycling shoes
- Cycling gloves
- Tools and spares
- Water bottles
- Sports nutrition
- Chamois cream
A road bike will provide you with the fastest, more comfortable bike to ride on a road cycling sportive event.
Road cycling helmets are compulsory for sportive events, and it should be the very first item to tick off on your sportive essentials checklist.
Modern helmets are designed to draw the air across the head when you are travelling at speed; keeping you cool and comfortable.
The best helmet is the one that fits you the best, so measuring your head circumference before a purchase is recommended.
Most modern helmets have great retention cradle systems which allow you to tailor a fit to your head size, often with just a one-handed adjustment of a dial.
Wearing a pair of cycle specific sunglasses will protect your eyes from the sun, wind, rain, and any debris that may come up from the road.
Sunglasses should give you clarity of vision while riding; you can choose clear lenses in the rain or coloured lenses for sunny conditions.
Another important factor is stability; your glasses will need to stay in place as you ride, so it's important that you select a pair that have a comfortable and secure fit.
Cycling Jersey and Shorts
Cycling jerseys use a wicking fabric to keep you dry and comfortable. Most will have three rear pockets to store jackets, gilets, food, tools and tubes.
A 3/4 or full zip will allow let you vent if you get too hot.
These days, you don't need to spend much to benefit from fabric technologies that will keep you cool, dry and comfortable. At higher price points, you will find more complex designs incorporating different fabrics for performance benefits and aerodynamic advantages.
Cycling shorts with padded cushioning, otherwise known as a chamois, will help to relieve pressure on your seat bones and are a far more comfortable option over distance than a heavily padded saddle. The close fit of cycling shorts means you won't suffer from annoying flapping and chafing.
Cycling Base Layer
Base layers for cycling are an often under-rated item, but they are essential to your riding comfort.
A good base layer will keep you warm and dry in winter, and cool and dry in summer.
Cycling Waterproof Jacket
Keep an eye on the forecast and be prepared if it looks like rain is possible.
Modern cycling waterproofs are breathable, lightweight and durable. Look for one that will pack away in a jersey pocket.
Leg Warmers and Arm Warmers
Leg and arm warmers are perfect for chilly starts or changeable weather. Simply stash them in a jersey pocket when things warm up.
Keep the wind and rain off your head, and the sweat out of your eyes, with a simple cotton cycling cap. Great for stuffing in your kit bag, ready for changeable weather.
Don't forget your riding shoes!
Proper cycling shoes will make your ride a lot more comfortable; aiding power transfer, foot positioning and reducing the chance of injury.
In the winter a pair of cycling gloves will keep your hands warm. In the summer, they'll help to provide grip and cushioning for your palms.
Cycling gloves are a great accessory to have, and well worth adding to your sportive kit.
Tools and spares
You've checked your bike, you might have even treated it to a full service. However prepared you are, punctures and mechanicals can strike at any time.
Some of the larger events might have mobile mechanical support, but most of the time you'll be expected to look after yourself.
A small multi-tool, tyre levers and a pump or CO2 inflator should get you out of most minor mishaps. You should take at least one inner tube, but remember that rainy conditions and poor road surfaces, the likelihood of a puncture is increased so you may want to take two just in case. A puncture repair-kit will get you rolling if you're really unlucky and use all your spare tubes. Look for ones with self-adhesive patches to minimise fuss at the roadside.
Even though your event is likely to be in daylight hours, it's a good idea to take front and rear lights (and make sure they're fully charged!). You'll probably be on the road for several hours and during that time there's always the risk that the clouds roll in or you end up in the shade on heavily wooded sections. Remember to be courteous to your fellow riders as well as other users and set your lights to an appropriate brightness and flash-pattern for the time of day.
Don't forget to take your water bottles. You should be able to fill these up at the feed stations along the route, but we recommend taking two 750ml water bottles at least.
You will almost certainly find that your event has feed stations along the route where you can top up on food and drink. Try to find out in advance what sort of food they'll have and, if they're using a particular brand of energy product, try it in advance if you can. After all the training you've put in you don't want to risk upsetting your stomach with unfamiliar food.
Taking your own snacks and nutrition products means that you can eat the things you're used to and you don't have to risk new foods or worse - getting to a food station that's run out of the things you wanted.
Protect yourself from saddle sores. A good chamois cream will help to reduce friction in the saddle and contains anti-bacterial agents to minimise the chance of infection.