04 April 2011

Cyclosportives - you can do it!

So you think you can race? 

Need to give some weight to your smack talk? Tired of talking about the athlete you were in High School and want to really see what you are made of in your 30s, 40s or even 50s? Maybe you just want to sign your friends up for a race to see them suffer (an equally good reason, I agree), well here is the challenge you and your riding buddies need. A cyclosportive.
Next time you find yourself out having beers and throwing out race recap comments about how Cancellara went too early or didn't have it in him - you might want to simulate those race conditions for yourself first. Underestimating the brutality of this sport at warp speeds up a climb is a sin. Or bad karma, whichever it is, you shouldn't do it. Climbs and cobbles come back to bite you. This occurrence is usually perfectly timed with the peak flow of your smack talk.
There are some lessons we all need to learn in cycling. Numero uno is that there is a huge difference between a pro and a desk jockey/weekend warrior (you being the lessor of the two). But that shouldn't stop you (and your suffering friends) from having an incredibly awesome experience on the road to learning lesson #1. 
Are you biting at the bit yet, ready for a real challenge? The perfect way to fill your winter and spring training calendar (and put all household chores on hold for the next 6 months) is to try one of the many cyclosportif, cyclosportive, corsa ciclistica, citizens race, grand fondo, etape, century, death march, or whatever you want to call it. These event races are a fantastic way to build your palmares, ruin your social life, and get in the best shape of your life (although registration is not a guarantee for that last part - you gotta actually train to ride, and ride the ride).

L'Etape du Tour village entrance 2005 Pau, France  Photo by PedalDancer.com
Links and dates for the 2011 cyclosportives (these links were incredibly difficult to nail down, so please click on at least one of them for me).
Cyclosportives in Belgium, France, Italy

The Classics Sportives
Omloop Passage Fitness 26/03/2011, Gent, Belgium 130km, 90km and 60km routes  
Tour of Flanders (De Ronde van Vlaanderen) 02/04/2011, Belgium 260km 140km 75km 
Paris-Roubaix Challenge 09/04/2011, France 162km  
Amstel Gold Tourversion 17/04/2011, Sint Geertruid, Netherlands 250, 200, 150, 125, 100, 60
Liege-Bastogne-Liege 23/04/2011, Liege, Belgium 245km 170km 130km
La Flèche de Wallonie 04/06/2011, Spa, Belgium 220km 160km 130km 
Milan SanRemo (Unione Ciclotouristica SanRemo) 05/06/2011, Milan, Italy 290 km 
Tilff-Bastogne-Tilff 12/06/2011, Tilf, Belgium 244km 136km 78km 

Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx 18/06/2011, Huy, Belgium  175km 121km 80km
l'Etape du Tour Mondovélo Acte I 18/07/11 (Tour de France stage 19), France 163km
l'Etape du Tour Mondovélo Acte II 17/07/11 (Tour de France stage 9), France 208km  
La Marmotte 02/07/11, Bourg d'Oisans, France 174km
Gran Fondo Internazionale Giordana, 26/06/11, Aprica, Italy 175km
Nove Colli 22/05/11, Cesenatico, Italy 200km
Maratona dles Dolomites 14/04/11, Dolmites, Italy 148km 106km 55km 
Other GS Alpi races and Grand Trophee Cycling Event link to various cyclosportives and grandosportives in France at Sports Communication. There are many many others as well. 

In the 2011 season, here in the United States, my brother will be riding the L'Etape du California and I will be riding Levi's Gran Fondo, we will let you know how it goes. A post about the Grand Fondos in the United States will be coming soon. We are finally catching on that there is much more to a Century ride than 100 miles on a bike.
Arrival in Pau 2005  Photo by PedalDancer.com