Team Škoda conquers the Donegal 555!

By We Love Cycling

Škoda has a longstanding affiliation with cycling. In fact, Škoda originally produced bicycles first and foremost, before it developed into the car manufacturer known globally today. In August, Team Škoda participated in the Donegal 555 sportive, a challenging event which sees cyclists conquer the roads of Co. Donegal in Ireland’s rugged North West!

To celebrate the event, Škoda ambassador and professional cyclist Imogen Cotter chatted to Product Manager at Škoda, Libor Pavlas, who participated in the sportive. Watch the full video below and get to grips with all things endurance cycling, followed by some top tips on preparing for a sportive, courtesy of Imogen!

The ultimate challenge

Regarded as the ultimate Wild Atlantic Way challenge, Donegal 555 is a challenging ultra-endurance 555km cycle around the rugged county of Donegal. The route takes cyclists through some of Ireland’s most picturesque scenery, including the foothills of Slieve League and Portsalon Beach, which has been voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

This year, hundreds of cyclists geared up for the event with plenty of support cars in tow. Team Škoda was there to support Libor in a dedicated car and captured plenty of content too, showcasing the highs and lows of his experience.

Watch professional cyclist Imogen Cotter in conversation with Donegal 555 participant Libor Pavlas:

In case you were feeling inspired to sign up for an event after watching our interview, Imogen Cotter has put together her top tips to prepare for a sportive. You might not be starting off with 555km, but it’s good to get the basics nailed – even for the shorter events. Good luck!

Create a training plan – and stick to it!

Whether it’s downloading a generic training plan from the internet or hiring a coach who has created a tailored training plan for you, it can be very helpful to have some structure and guidance leading towards a target event. With a training plan that is designed by professionals, it takes the guesswork out of your training – you can be assured that you’re increasing your workload in a realistic and achievable manner, without fear of getting burnt out.

Take it slow occasionally!

As important as it is to get some hard and challenging training sessions in, it’s also equally important to spend time doing some easy rides, keeping your heart rate low and enjoying riding your bike. We Love Cycling has put together countless resources on easy bike rides around Ireland which are perfect for weekend cycles.

Make sure you prioritise rest

This may seem counter-productive, but if you are pushing your body hard in training, it will need days to recover as well. You can’t always expect yourself to be ready to train hard every single day! You could also incorporate gentle exercise such as walking, yoga, pilates or swimming if you don’t want to take full rest days. These forms of exercise can actually help you to get through your preparation for the event injury-free.

Start to get used to drinking and eating enough on the bike.

No matter what the event, if you’re going to be on the bike for long periods of time, you need to fuel and hydrate properly. If you’re signing up for a sportive, there will generally be food stops throughout, but it’s important to have a gel, energy bar or bidon regularly on the bike, as you never know when you might ‘hit the wall’. It’s a good idea to try out the gels on training rides in the run-up to the event – you don’t want to take something for the first time on the day in case it doesn’t agree with your stomach.

Try to do some training rides in a group

An important part of signing up to a sportive is getting used to riding in a group. At the start of the event, it can be daunting – even to an experienced rider – to ride in a group of people. A good way to alleviate that stress on the day is to practice riding in a group before the event. Most local clubs will meet on a Saturday or Sunday for an endurance ride together. If you are finding the endurance rides tough or boring, a group ride can be a great solution.

Try out the turbo

If you’re trying to balance preparing for an event with work and family life, chances are you’re short on time on your weekdays. During the winter and spring months, it might not be possible to get out for a ride midweek, but it is important to try to keep active in some way from Monday to Friday. If you have a turbo trainer at home, you can easily hook up your bike and get some quality training done without being on the bike for hours. If the thought of being stuck indoors on a bike for an hour reduces you to tears, there are computer programs like Zwift to help with that!

Ensure you are comfortable on the bike!

If you’re going to be spending upwards of three hours on a bike, you need to make sure you’re feeling comfortable at all times. Small things like adjusting saddle height, changing your saddle or altering the angle of your handlebars can make a huge difference to how you feel on the bike. You can also get your bike fitted by a professional, in case you’re afraid to make those adjustments yourself. Be sure to keep on top of your bike maintenance too! Little things like washing off your bike after a ride and applying some oil to the chain can make your cycling experience so much more enjoyable.

Feeling confident you can conquer a sportive now? Learn more about the Škoda Tour de Conamara, one of Ireland’s premier summertime cycling events.