Preparation for sportives

Quite a few months ago I registered for the Otley Intermediate Sportive to be run on the 14th September. At the time I was coping just about OK with 12 miles or so social rides and so thought that by September I would able to handle the 29 miles of the gently undulating provisional route advertised. However, when the finalised route was published quite recently it had been increased to 36 miles. This is not in itself a problem as I did a flattish 35 mile ride a few weeks ago the east of Leeds and managed OK despite being very tired at the end. The problem with the new sportive route is that it is significantly hilly. It climbs Norwood Edge, a National Hill Climb venue, about 1 mile long with an average gradient of 9% with the first third rearing up at between 12% and 17%. There are quite a few other significant climbs as well. The finalised route can be viewed on the Garmin website (For contrast, this is the provisional 26 mile route


This will be taking on a great deal more than I had anticipated. My road bike has a bottom gear of 33 inches. I find I am having to resort to this on gradients of 6% so I will definitely be struggling on most of Norwood Edge, which rarely slackens off to below 6%, and some of the other climbs. I may find some sections unridable. I have about 2 and a half months to get lighter and fitter for this but it’s a big ask. I will do it and should be able to finish in the maximum time allowance which I think is calculated at 8 mph so it should be about 4 hours 54 mins. I will probably try to ride Norwood Edge a couple of weeks before the event and perhaps the whole route to get an idea of how I will do. I’m thinking about driving it in the next couple of weeks or so but I suspect this will scare me to death!

In the meantime I’ve decided to revert to toe clips and straps on my new bike. The new clipless  pedals I bought and the shoes that go with them (all Shimano SPD) are fine and I’m sure I will use these in the future. But for the moment I need to use shoes that are more comfortable and easier to walk in when I get to the hills!

3 thoughts on “Preparation for sportives

  1. Hi Terry,
    Looking at the route with the mile markers switched on you are only climbing the top bit of Norwood Edge. The route goes from Otley to Leathly and then via a gated road which brings you out well up the hill. Its still a challenging climb but not as bad as going straight up.


    • Thanks Brian. That’s very encouraging. I’ve checked the climb on Strava where you can check the gradient all the way up and the route misses out the very steepest bits in the first half where it gets up to 17% or so. The steepest bit in the top half is about 11%. The route to the junction where it joins the Norwood Edge road has a 17% climb but quite short. I’ve added a link in the post to the provisional 26 mile route I thought I’d signed up for! I’ve been knocked back in my efforts to get fitter by nearly 3 weeks of flu and travelling but since coming home from my Islay trip I’m back on course now. One problem I have with steeper hills is that I don’t have a kneecap on my left leg (the result of a motorbike accident when I was 16) and the joint doesn’t have much strength or stability until the leg is fairly straight. This has always made riding out of the saddle difficult and at the moment I just can’t do it. The bottom gear on my new ‘sportive’ bike is 32 (34×28) but I can always fit something lower – perhaps a 30 or 32 large sprocket.

  2. The good news is that the worse hill on the route, which is York Folly and starts at about 18 miles into the ride, you are only going down it. I have never managed to ride all the way up it in one go, and thats with a 28 granny ring and 32 rear sprocket.

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