As you know the Etape du Dales is not easy given you will face 3500m of climbing over 112miles. Here are some training tips to help you prepare for this famous cycling sportive.
- Train for it and do some more training
Being as best prepared as possible is the most important thing you can do. Try to fit in regular bike rides during the week or try to riding to work. If your ride to work is short try leaving earlier and plan a longer more scenic route. Try to fit in 2 longer rides per week (of 4hrs or more) to get used to longer durations in the saddle. An incorrect bike setup which doesn’t reveal itself on short rides may crop up on a longer ride. It’s best to sort these out before the big day. Here is an excellent website on bike fitting if you are suffering from any aches or pains.
Try training on a single speed or a fixed gear bike. A set gear ratio will help you build more power on inclines because you don’t have the benefit of changing to an easier gear. On a fixed gear you have to keep pedalling so when you crest a hill you got to keep spinning.
Try some strength training using kettle bells. There are some excellent kettle bell exercises for cyclists here.
2. Practice climbing in the saddle
Climbing whilst remaining seated conserves energy. The climbs in the Etape du Dales are often long so learn how to pace yourself and find the most efficient body position. It’s important to establish your bike fit is correct.
3. Appropriate cycling kit
A good pair of cycling shorts is essential. 6hr + in the saddle can become very uncomfortable. Too much padding can cause extra pressure in the wrong areas so make sure you try some out in training rides. Riders swear by Chamois Cream to help friction areas.
A cycling jersey with pockets for carrying some food and spares is always the best approach. Pack a cape to shield you from the wind chill on long fast descents.
Gloves will help protect the nerves in your hands from temporary damage. Ensuring your bike is correctly setup will reduce pressure on your handlebars.
4. Learn to pace yourself
Conserve your energy at the beginning by sitting behind other peoples wheels. If you try ride too fast at the start you may struggle to finish and it could ruin your day.
5. Fuel yourself little and often
Eating too much can prevent your body absorbing essential fluids risking dehydration. Eating very sugary foods along the way can cause temporary energy highs and then a sudden drop so mix it up a bit.
6. Bike gearing
The Etape du Dales has 3500m of climbing so make sure you have enough gears to get you over the hills. A compact 34/50t chainset is recommended and anything above 25t on the rear is fine.
7. Learn to ride in groups
Riding in a group will massively conserve your energy. It will also increase your average speed. Be careful on the descents and leave loads of space for other riders! Here’s some more in depth info on riding in a group.