Following my recent post musing on the minefield that must be navigated when entering a sportive (The Dubious Pleasure of the Sportive), it was suggested to me via Twitter that perhaps the time had come for a bold new era in the world of semi-competitive mass participation cycling events – The Boutique Sportive (@nwroughton – take a bow).
It stands to reason; cycling seems to be the new favourite hobby of white middle class men and women with a few quid to spend, and what is their current second favourite hobby…? Food, of course. When I was a lad, in a game of word association the word Michelin would have been quickly followed by ‘man’…or ‘tyres’. But now…Michelin means ‘stars’. In the space of a decade we’ve gone from Delia Smith to Michelle Roux Jr.
Anyway, I digress…
…this new generation boutique event will feature a few minor changes; there would be a dress code of course – matching bib-shorts and jacket (and no team kit) – but the main area of improvement would be the feed-station. Instead of the usual fare of energy gels, jelly babies and tap-water, the Boutique Sportive would feature a selection of fine foods and wine; think locally sourced ingredients, heritage vegetables and rare breed meat, all washed down with a silky French Pinot Noir, or a crisp and zesty New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
In fact, it would be not so much a feed station, as a 3 course sit down meal with coffee and liqueurs…station.
Of course, it could be argued that rich food and alcohol is not the ideal fuel to be taking on board during a semi-competitive event, but there’s the key phrase…’semi-competitive’. If it’s not even fully competitive then where’s the harm in a bit of added enjoyment to punctuate the hard miles and punishing climbs. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to let your dessert go down!
Now, as the details of the (clearly ridiculous and very much tongue in cheek) Boutique Sportive were being finalised, @legsandarmes (who blogs here – have a read) jumped into the debate to suggest…(wait for it)…that we were being a little bit high-maintenance about our cycling – perish the thought!
As I read and re-read this very post as I write it, I’m beginning to think she may have had a point. So…to set my mind at ease, I thought it might be useful to put together a little guide.
You may be a high maintenance cyclist if:
- Your favourite flavour of energy gel is roast pheasant (or, for the vegetarians, blue cheese and walnut)
- You cannot understand why Chain Reaction Cycles don’t sell a heated saddle
- Your saddle-bag contains a multi-tool, a couple of inner tubes, set of tyre leavers, a tube of moisturising balm and some throat sweets
- You plan your ride around cafe’s – not just cafe’s with good coffee, but those with good barista’s
- No full set of matching kit washed and ironed = No ride
You are not a high maintenance cyclist if:
- You don’t carry energy gels, only home made flap-jack and bananas
- You never take your bike to you local bike shop to be repaired or serviced; you buy the parts and do it yourself…every time
- Your favourite brand of recovery drink is milk
- Your saddle bag contains a multi-tool, a couple of inner tubes, a set of tyre leavers, a puncture repair kit, a chain tool, a bottom bracket tool, a tyre patch…etc…etc. You never phone home for help.
- You plan your roads around the biggest hills. Nothing else.
So, am I a high maintenance cyclist…? Well, I probably sit somewhere in the middle (but I would say that wouldn’t I).
Now, where did I put my travel corkscrew and collapsible wine glass?