Tom’s Top Tips: Tom Kirk of Custom Cycle Coaching


We’re a little over 3 weeks away from the big day, and our good friend Tom Kirk from Custom Cycle Coaching has been kind enough to share some of his pearls of wisdom with you; our Smuggling Swashbucklers!

No matter whether you are an experienced sportive rider or the Smuggler is your first sportive you can look forward to a great challenge, whatever route you choose. The purpose of this guide is to focus on a few last minute tips to make your day more enjoyable.

1: Whatever route you have signed up to, it’s important to have ridden for close to your planned duration in training first. If your goal time for the 50 mile route is 3h for example try to build up to a 3h ride in the weeks beforehand, this will probably be at an easier pace than you’ll ride on the day but it’s good to get used to being on the bike that long.

2: The Smuggler is a hilly route, so alongside the distance the climbs are the main challenge. Include plenty of hills in your training leading up to the event, practicing pacing your effort so you’re able to finish strongly and keep going over the top. If you live in a flat area or do a lot of turbo riding you can include some big gear work to simulate the effect of hills. Include 3-4 5min harder efforts pushing a big gear with your hands on the top of the bars as if you were climbing and concentrate on remaining relaxed, smooth, controlled breathing and maintaining a cadence (pedal speed) of over 70 revolutions per minute.

3: With hills come descents! If you’re not confident descending fast, first of all address your bike fit (are you stable and in control of the bike?) and cornering skills. Keep your body relaxed and do your braking before the corners so you can concentrate on taking a smooth line through the bends. A great tip is to look where you want to go (not at that tree or oncoming car!), as the bike will generally follow!

4: Especially in the longer distance rides, nutrition can be very important. You will be using a lot of energy and if it’s hot, losing a lot of fluid through sweating too, so don’t be tempted to skip the feed stations to save seconds as if you run out of energy later it can be hard to recover. It’s important to practice eating and drinking on the bike before the sportive itself and that is also a great way to find out what suits your body. If you have a favourite energy drink or food it’s a good idea to start off with that, as the last thing you want in a tough sportive is to find out something doesn’t agree with your stomach!

5: Finally, make sure you’re well rested coming into the event. We’re getting close to the big day now and it can be tempting to try to really push the last minute training but rest is important too! Your last long ride should be at least a week before then start to reduce the length and intensity of your sessions to arrive on the start line rested and ready to smash it!

Good luck!
Tom Kirk, Custom Cycle Coaching

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