After being dragged awake by the 5:00 AM alarm my brain was slowly starting to function again. The triple-strength coffee had flooded my bloodstream with caffeine, and blinking, I started to take in my surroundings. I was standing on the front line of a mass of riders; I could feel the nerves rippling from the 2000 bikers behind me and the atmosphere was electric. No, this wasn’t the Megavalanche, because I was dressed in what looked like my underwear and had jazzy disco slippers on my feet; my legs were silky smooth, and my helmet visor had gone. What the hell had happened? I had fallen to the dark side, I had gone full roadie?

Wurde ich von allen guten Geistern verlassen ?
What happened to me?

The instant that the plan was made to ride the 120km Tesco Bank Tour o’ the Borders Road Sportive in the Tweed Valley, Scotland, one question was on everyone’s lips: “Are you going to shave your legs?” Initially I thought, “Hell no,” but then I looked into it. One study suggested that shaving your legs could save an average of 70 seconds over 40Km; I was going to ride 120km, so by trimming off the old leg fluff I could spend 210 seconds less time working hard on the bike – that’s three and a half minutes for free! Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound. The same study showed that trimming off facial hair has no significant impact! Phew… the beard can stay. Half an hour of extremely feminine behaviour later, my legs were silky smooth and I went in search of the strongest whisky I could find to remind myself that I was still a guy!

[emaillocker id=”115604″]
Für 210 geschenkte Sekunden rasiert man sich doch (gerne) die Beine...
Did I just shave my legs for a 210 second benefit?

The next problem was the distance… it had been a busy year and I had not done any training. In fact, this would be my first road ride! 120km was starting to sound like a very long way indeed. However, my name was on the list so there was no backing out now. With my new aerodynamic legs I would need some equally slinky kit to go with it. Now, I’ve never been a full lycra kinda’ guy and I’ve seen too many MAMIL’s (middle-aged men in lycra) stuffing their ample forms into full team SKY kit and the results were not pretty, so there must be a cooler alternative, right? Luckily I chanced across the new ENDURA Glengoyne Whisky kit. Since I love whisky and it’s manly, the deal was done. I would also be riding a sexy Whyte Stowe Ultegra full carbon road bike. As a mountain biker there was a lot that was familiar: the hydraulic disc brakes, 11-speed drivetrain, and full carbon frame and wheels were all what I recognised as ‘sweet kit.’ However, the mind-blowingly light weight was something else. I looked like a roadie, so it was time to hit the road.

Nun ist es Zeit, auf die Straße zu gehen.
Time to hit the Road.

Back on the start line, I started to think strategy. I knew I had very little gas in the tank, so I kept repeating in my head “Pace yourself, pace yourself, pace yourself!” But no! The second the tape was lifted all that went out the window. “Pace yourse…..SCREW IT! Pedal like mad!” For some reason I took off like a scalded cat, hanging at the front with lead-out group. I found myself deep inside the peloton and it was like a living animal; there was a lot going on like speed checks, signals, instructions, all of which I did not understand at all. I was a tourist but I was loving it! The guy in front kept wafting his hand behind his arse… I was about to point out that he should fart somewhere else, then I realised he was marking out potholes, ahhh! The pace picked up again and I gave up trying to understand it and just concentrated on avoiding being the cause of a twenty-bike pile up.

Anfänglich noch etwas verwirrt im Peloton, startete ich bald durch !
I was left a bit dazzled in the Peloton at first, but I soon found my pace.

As we wound as a group through the beautiful Scottish borders, it appeared my tactics of pacing myself had been well and truly thrown out of the pram. At one point I found myself at the front of a big pack and we were flying. My legs were whirling and I was redlining at 45 km/h on the flat with over 60 kilometers to go – what the hell was I doing? The infamous Talla Wall hill reared itself up and we hit it as a group. Dropping down through the gears, I remember being most surprised when they ran out unexpectedly; there are no big dinner-plate 44-tooth sprockets on a road bike, it would seem. The 20% gradient was brutal, and I almost blew a gasket cranking the pedals round. I thought perhaps Whyte Bikes may have played a cruel trick on me and taken off the granny gears for a laugh, but it turns out the bike has normal semi-compact gearing – roadies are just made of tougher stuff.

Rennradfahrer sind anscheinend aus härterem Holz geschnitzt !
Roadies seem to be made of tougher stuff!

As we punched into a headwind, I soon realised the first rule of road riding: drafting is everything! Hanging out right behind someone (and I mean millimeters off their wheel), it feels as though an invisible force is dragging you firmly forward – you get to hitch a free ride behind the toiling rider in front. Camaraderie dictates that each rider spends equal time at the front before recovering back in the shelter of the group, while competition dictates that you try and do as little as possible. I had sat and occasionally worked with the front pack for over 70 km now, and numbers had started to dwindle. I now found myself at the back finding the pace tougher and tougher… I was starting to ‘bonk,’ another road term that is not as fun as it sounds. At these moments, the gap between you and the rider in front is everything. If you fall back just a meter, the wind will wrap its strong fingers round you and unceremoniously pull you off the pack to fight on your own. Alarmingly, I could feel it happening to me…with agonizing slowness, I was drawn from the safety of the pack. I gave it everything, but it felt like I was pedaling in slow motion. I had drifted too far and the peloton spat me out – all I could do was watch as the pack speed away.

Raus aus dem Peloton, rein in die Qual...
As soon as the Peloton dropped me, I started suffering.

After the madness of the pack, my pace dropped dramatically with 50 km to go and I started to take in more of the scenery; the Tweed Valley was a stunning place indeed. The event was on closed roads for the entire 120 km loop, so I could enjoy taking racing lines around blind corners without fear of becoming someone’s bonnet ornament. Sportives have become the road equivalent of enduros – technically not races, they are inclusive to all – but offer enough competition at the pointy end to encourage good riders. As I swept past gin-clear lochs and through sweeping valleys, the bike hummed over the smooth tarmac and I started to fall in love with road biking; it’s a simply brilliant way to see a place. Other riders came and went, we chatted and then carried on our journeys. It was great fun. My ridiculous high speed antics of the first few hours meant that the last hour was a cramp-filled purgatory, but I was stoked to roll home just a few minutes shy of four hours. A post-ride beer has never tasted so good!

Sobald ich begann, die Landschaft zu genießen, verliebte ich mich neu !
As soon as I started looking at the landscape, I found a new love!

As my leg hair grows out again, I look back on my journey into road biking. I still wouldn’t want to walk into a pub in full lycra, and the shoes do make you walk like a penguin, but it was way more fun that I expected it to be. If there’s a sportive going on near you, get yourself signed up! Once you go full roadie, who knows, you might like it…

Anatomy of a Road Rider

Sportives are focused on fun and you can enter your first event using pretty much any equipment. However, for maximum fun and enjoyment you will need the right kit.


Trev entschied sich für ein Whyte Stowe Ultegra.
Trev decided to ride the Whyte Stowe Ultegra.

Modern road bikes share a lot of technology with mountain bikes. Carbon frames and wheels and hydraulic disc brakes are now all commonplace, and ride quality has improved immensely. A road bike will make you feel like a speed god when you crank it up on smooth tarmac.

Trev chose a full carbon Whyte Stowe Ultegra with carbon wheels, disc brakes, and Ultegra drivetrain (approx € 4499). Check their Website for further information.


Das Whisky-Jersey hat einfach Stil...
Trev repping the Whisky jersey.

Of course you could wear baggies, but if you get caught on your own battling a headwind you will be cursing the flapping fabric pulling you back. On the road lycra is king; you will feel like you’re out in your underwear the first time, but will love the slippery aerodynamic feeling.

As the sort of rider who likes to finish a ride with a pint, Trev was stoked to wear the brand new Glengoyne Whisky Jersey (€ 69.99), supremely comfortable FS260 bib shorts (€ 139.99), Aerogel Mitts (€ 34.99), and Shark Glasses (€ 44.99), all from Endura.


Trev hat sein eigenes altgedientes Garmin Edge 500 genutzt.
Trev used his own, long suffering Garmin 500.

Whether you want to check on your power output, cadence, or geek over your heart rate (or simply want to find out how much farther it is to the next cake station), a GPS will give you all the info you need to keep you on track during the sportive.

The helmet

Aerodynamik und Belüftung sollten im Vordergrund stehen.
Aerodynamics and Venting are important for roadie-helmets.

In mountain biking ‘rocking the bullet’ without a visor will get you ridiculed, but on the road a visor just gets in the way. For road riding, you will want something more streamlined with maximum venting to keep you cool on long drags.

Trev chse an Endura Airshell (€ 129.99) . Further information on the ENDURA-Website.


Mit dedizierten Rennrad-Klicks hat man am meisten Spaß.
You will have more fun on dedicated roadbike pedals.

You can use regular SPD pedals or even flats in a sportive, but if you want maximum power and enjoyment out of your bike, you will need proper road pedals with appropriate road cleats. These provide a firmer connection to the bike, and are not compatible with mountain bike shoes.

Trev chose some reliable and light Shimano 105 pedals (€ 109.99). Further Information at Shimano.


Trev ist aufs Ganze gegangen und hat einen Rasierer der Marke Wilkinson damit betraut, den Luftstrom um seine Beine zu optimieren.
Trev went all in and trusted a Wilkinson razor to smooth out the airflow round his legs.

To shave or not to shave, that is the question. Leg shaving has been shown to offer a small aerodynamic advantage, but is not commonplace in sportives… well, among the guys anyway! The jury is still out, but we think lycra and hairy legs is a no-no!

Road shoes

Steife Sohle und starke Optik.
Stiff and shiny !

Road shoes have much stiffer soles than mountain bike shoes, helping every watt from your legs get to the tyres. When off the bike they make you walk like a penguin, but power will be phenomenal.

Trev chose Shimano R171 shoes for their eye-catching looks, maximum performance and comfort
(€ 199.99). Visit Shimano for more Information.


Words & Photos: Trevor Worsey

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