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Top Tips to Tackle The Evans Cycles King of the Downs

by Adam Tranter

Tackling one of the season's toughest sportives is not for the faint-hearted or worse still, for the under prepared. The Evans Cycles feature ride, the King of the Downs is a serious challenge at 113 miles and with over 9,000 feet of climbing. Every rider will need to put the training in and ensure they and their bike is totally prepared.

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To help you arrive on the day with you and your bike in the best shape we have some suggestions and top tips for you.

The bike:

Finding the right bike to tackle a sportive such as the King of the Downs should be a fun journey into the world of balancing comfort against speed. There is little sense in going for an out and out racing machine with a super low end if after a couple of hours you are in agony and your back has stiffened right up. Believe me, I have been there and it is not a great feeling if you still have 50 miles to go and you can barely ride due to a stiff back! Getting the right bike and making sure it is set up correctly can pay dividends in not only comfort but speed, if you are more comfortable on the bike, you are often able to put more energy into going faster. 

Having a bike with a less racy geometry, something like the BMC Streetracer SR01 at £1299.99 or Fuji Gran Fondo at £1599.99 is the way to go. The difference with these bikes and a race bike is the riding position will be more relaxed as the handlebars will be higher, giving a smaller drop between the saddle and bars meaning that your back can stay more relaxed as you ride. 

The gearing on your chosen bike is key for sportives. Most will be equipped with either a compact chainset, smaller chainrings than a standard chainset giving you more assistance on the 10 major climbs you'll encounter or a triple chainset. A triple as the name suggests gives you three chainrings at the front and gives you the biggest range of gears but is generally only needed for very steep hills or when carrying equipment. With the broader range of cassettes now available a compact chainset is more commonly used.  

Evans Cycles

Both of the previously mentioned bikes offer the tools required to conquer a sportive such as the King of the Downs as both provide a full carbon frame designed to kill the road buzz which is one of the main causes for fatigue on longer rides. The Gran Fondo offers a great option for those who want to venture into a full carbon bike without spending a fortune. The BMC is an aluminium frameset, well-equipped with Shimano 105. The bike received 4/5 stars when tested by Cycling Plus magazine.  Either way, when you pair a compact chainset with these frames you are on to a winner and finishing the ride in a gold standard time in gold standard comfort.

The Training

With your bike chosen and the position setup correctly, you're in a great place to start accumulating the miles. There are many suggested ways to build your endurance so that on the big day you have every chance of achieving the standard you want. In fact deciding what you want to get out of the day is key to designing your training plan. 

Whether it's a gold standard or completing your first century ride, the challenge really is personal but the training can be more generic. Build up the mileage gradually, you'll feel stronger, fitter and will approach the longer rides with a sense of enjoyment rather than suffering them. Set yourself realistic goals, ride for a couple of hours and build from there. If all goes according to plan, the distance will increase and you'll be riding longer and further. 

evans Cycles

Not everyone is blessed with unlimited training time or able to commute to work but regular rides of even a short duration interspersed with an occasional longer ride can all help. We've all been blasted by the recent wet spell, curtailing many a ride or desire to get out! Turbo trainers can offer an indoor respite to keep the legs turning. 

The King of the Downs is a long ride, fitness on the start line is part of your preparation. Just as importantly is your nutrition during the ride. Ensuring your energy levels are maintained will help you conquer all the climbs, finish strongly and stave off cramp. Try some energy products during your training rides, you will need to keep your 'electrolyte' levels topped up. If the weather is warm, it may well improve, you'll sweat more and lose vital minerals through this process. Energy drinks are formulated to replace them and along with gels will provide you with enough fuel to get round.

Evans Cycles

The Energy

Our nutrition partner for the event is High5, here's a few tips from them. "A carb rich breakfast of porridge or toast to start you off, and then a High5 energy gel each hour or a High5 bar every 2-3 hours, plus 500mls of EnergySource 4:1 every hour once you get going."

"Sports Nutrition will help you get the optimum out of your training by fuelling your rides and improving your recovery from sessions to session. Sports nutrition can also play a crucial part on the day of your big event. If you want to finish your event strong and with a smile on your face, then check out the latest research on riding further and racing faster."On the day don't forget your spares, tubes, levers, pump or canisters a bit of cash just in case and your energy products. Most of all, remember to enjoy the experience.  

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