Cycling the Dartmoor Classic Sportive
by William Townsend on June 26, 2019
Active Root Ambassador took part in the Dartmoor Classic Sportive Grande over the weekend - 107miles with 10,000ft of elavation. Find out below how she prepared for all those climbs!
The Dartmoor Classic Sportive - Am I ready?
Organised by Mid-Devon Cycling Club, the Dartmoor Classic Sportive is widely recognised as the most prestigious open-road sportive in the UK. The routes show off the best of Dartmoor. From the Piccolo, a 38-mile route with 2500ft climb to the Grande, a 107 miles route with over 10,000 feet of elevation there is a suitable challenge for everyone.
I’ve completed the Medio event (68 miles) several times so this year I’ve taken a leap and entered the Grande. The distance isn’t an issue, but the climbing is! I’m not a natural mountain goat and hill training is problematic when I live in Essex - a very flat part of our green and pleasant land. I’ve been working hard at my training to prepare myself as best I can.
So, what have I done to prepare?
On average, I’ve been in the gym twice a week concentrating on gaining muscular endurance for my legs, glutes, back and abs. This includes squats, lunges, dead lifts, crunches and the dreaded plank. I’m rubbish at the latter and they really hurt! I lift light weights but do lots of reps, thus replicating what the hills do to my legs on ‘climby’ rides. I love a Les Mills body pump class, it’s a group exercise class that I can hit the legs hard in and be done in just 45 minutes. If my legs feel shaky after the session, I know I’ve done it right!
Before we got into the summer months, I also tried to do a spin class or turbo session on the static bike at least once a week. These were normally sessions of less than an hour but high intensity. Spin class let me climb practice with ‘out the saddle’ efforts and on the turbo trainer I opted for zwift sessions to keep me motivated. As last month saw the start of my outdoor racing season, the spin and turbo sessions have been swapped out. Not only am I back outside, but I’m competitive so will always work that bit harder if I have someone in my sights or I can feel them chasing me down!
Finally, my last session of the week is a lower intensity ‘long’ ride. The distance varies due to time available. Thankfully, my partner rides too so we usually find a sportive or go out on the Sunday club ride with Romford Cycling Club which ticks this one off.
Well, that’s it - 5 sessions per week with 2 rest days for nearly 6 months. Oh, yeah, except for the first week in May. That’s when I went to Majorca on my first cycling holiday. Loved it!! Completing the famed climbs of Puig Major and Sa Calobra were highlights of a tough but thoroughly enjoyable week in the saddle. I’m sure the repeated days in the saddle and the effort required to keep climbing, for over an hour at a time, will have helped boost my training massively! In that week I covered over 275 miles and climbed an epic 21,000 ft.
So, am I ready? I hope so! I’ve seen some improvements on benchmark rides, and I feel good. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything falls into place and that I earn that Grande medal on Sunday. Wish me luck!