1) Get the miles in. No matter how long you've been cycling for it's always a good idea to test out the distance before you ride. You don't necessarily have to do the whole whack (before the Tour de Broads the furthest I'd ridden was 33 miles), but the more miles you can get in your legs the better prepared you'll be.
2) Practice the simple things - signalling, getting your feet in and out of your pedals (particularly if you have cleats), cornering, drinking/eating on the go. The last one is particularly important - most sportives will have a drinking stop (depending on the length of the ride) but it's a good idea to keep energy and fluids up whilst you ride.
3) Ship shape! Make sure you check over your bike and gear the day before you ride. You wouldn't want to come unstuck by a flat tyre, rusty chain or dodgy cycle shorts five miles into your ride.
On The Day.
1) Arrive early. I think this goes for everything, but depending on how big the event is you need to allow time to unhook your bike from your bike rack, or re-attach that wheel if you've got something a little fancy.
2) Keep hydrated. Electrolyte drinks will give you a sugar kick as well as hydrating you. Apparently you're meant to drink 500ml for every hour in the saddle (depending on your pace and how much you sweat).
3) Know your pace. Don't get caught up in the excitement of the day and set of too fast. You'll pay for it later! On one of my training rides I set off at 15 mph, only to struggle in agony barely grinding 10 mph for the final few miles. Remember, it isn't a race!!
4) Be considerate. One thing I've noticed confident riders with low handle bars do is drop their hand off the bar if they are coming up to a potential hazard in the road. This no only lets the rider behind them know they are about to change course slightly, but also gives them advanced warning of the pot hole/ man hole cover/ road kill a couple of meters up the road. Shouting 'clear!' at junctions as you cross to let the riders behind you know the way is safe, and shouting 'on your right' before you pass a rider are also things that help everyone stay safe on the road.
5) Obey the highway code. Even though there may be a lot of you on the road, unless you're in a really big event chances are you'll still be sharing it with cars. This means you'll need to signal clearly and promptly, and have an awareness of vehicles which might be a little intimidated trying to pass a large number of cyclists.
6) Take advantage of better riders. If you're struggling, try to follow the back wheel of a fellow cyclist. Not only do they act as a carrot for you to stick to, but you'll be doing less than half the work as they act as your wind break.
7) Have fun. Sportives are really friendly environments full of like minded individuals. You might get a few competitive teams, but for the most part you're among small groups of friends who want a fun day out. Most people will be up for a chat as you cycle along - unless they're going uphill!
That's all! Next week you should see a combination of August Book Haul/Wrap-up/September TBR, so stayed tuned!