We’re delighted to have Zak Dempster, pro cyclist at Team NetApp-Endura, offering his know-how to help get you in tip-top shape for race day.
Australian born Zak has six top ten places under his belt, all in his first year at Team NetApp-Endura.
These credentials make him the ideal pro to offer some advice for both entry-level and experienced sportive riders alike.
Back to basics
We asked Zak to start with the basics to ensure that you’ve got the core skills covered correctly. Here’s Zak’s advice in an easy-to-digest format.
Take to the hills
- Hill repeats are actually a great way of making the session go quicker
- Find a climb of around 3-8 minutes near your home and aim for 4-5 repeats for close to 30 minutes of climbing. You’ll gain a lot more from doing this than a flat one hour ride and the climbs will be less of a shock during the event
Tackling the sprint section of Sportives
- Gauge your effort - if the ride has been a struggle or you're having a bad day, then don’t push yourself too much as this will, more likely than not, just make things worse
Sharp bend ahead!
- Make sure your foot on the side you’re cornering (left corner, left side) is situated at 12 o’clock, at the highest possible point, to avoid contact with the road.
Safety first, safety second on those descents
- Don’t go outside of your comfort zone, descend safely at the speed you feel comfortable - it’s better to be dropped than to make a mistake and crash because you were cornering faster than your capability.
Efficient gear management includes:
- Freewheeling to save energy, if you're able to
- Aiming for a cadence of 80-100rpm at all times when pedalling
- Adjusting your gears to the above rpm at all times
Responsible and impact-free cycling
With the ever increasing need to be environmentally friendly, we’ve asked Zak for his recommendations on the best way to adopt a responsible and impact-free cycling ethos.
Keep noise to a minimum
- Be aware of your surroundings. There's no need to ride in silence, but don’t shout as you ride through local villages (you’d be surprised how much people can hear as you ride by)
Riding in groups
- Be aware of motorists and ride single file if you’re holding them up
- Be aware of other riders in your group; make them aware of any obstacles in the road (eg potholes)
Be environmentally friendly
- Put your rubbish back in your pocket, and if nature calls, be sensible
Safety tips and advice
Last - but certainly not least - we asked Zak for his personal top tips on the following key safety issues.
- As far left as possible!
Signalling to other cyclists
- Depends on how comfortable you are taking your hands from the bars, but clear signals such as “hole”, “turning left” and “slowing” should suffice to let others know what you’re doing to stay safe
Signalling to other road users
- Make sure it’s obvious what you're about to do and give good clear signals to other road users. Always be aware of cars because you’re going to come off second best if you make a mistake
Being seen both in daylight and darkness
- You - there are plenty of good high-vis products on the market now, so make sure you’re visible to those around you
- Your bike - a light on your bike is essential