Are you ready for the biking portion of your next triathlon? Team Amino Vital Athletes chimed in with their best practices. Beth Andrew shared her ABCs of biking skills and Derek Smith gave us the 411 on selecting the right bike for a triathlon.
Aero is Home: My coach taught me this one and experience proves her right! Your aerodynamic position reduces wind resistance at higher speeds. The more energy you save slipping through the air on your bike, the more efficient you’ll be on the run. Find your most aero position on your road bike or tri bike and hold it. For 10 miles, or 20 or 56 or 112. Every time you fidget or sit up or look around at the scenery is time off the clock. This position should feel comfortable, safe and fast. Get a perfect bike fit and practice a portion of every training session in aero.
Be Aware: This extends to every cyclist on the road. Being aware of what’s going on in front, beside and behind you is critical to your safety. In a race, it’s critical for your performance. I’ve found that being aware of what is going on in the six-foot space between my wheels shapes my performance. I do a constant check-in – from toe to top and top to toe – that brings awareness to everything from my pedal stroke to my posture, from my breathing to my brain (what are you thinking about?). In a race, you’re often on the road alone for long stretches of highway. Without riding buddies or a radio – your B could be BOREDOM. it is important to be mindful every mile.
Cadence is Key: If I could do it all again, I’d learn this one first. When I started cycling for tris, I assumed that power output equaled my big ring in the front + smallest cog in the rear + a cadence of 85 or lower. For me, it led to injuries and poor runs off the bike. In the past six months, I’ve focused on a 90+ cadence. I’ve found that it feels better and sets me up for a great run. Six-time Ironman winner and coach Mark Allen, recently wrote that a high cadence can help the muscles flush out lactate and as a result keep up the power output. There’s actually a period of rest in the pedal stroke and a higher rate = more relaxation of the muscle. Click here to see the article. Plus, I recently found this stat: It has been shown that when an athlete pedals at a higher cadence (
Not sure what a kind of bike you need? Team Amino Vital Athlete, Derek Smith, shared his tips for finding the right bike for you.
The bike is the longest portion of EVERY triathlon no matter what distance you signed up for. You will spend the most time on your bike so going with the right gear will help you immensely. I would recommend going to a serious bike retailer to help during this process. If you take triathlons seriously, you will need two bikes: road and TT (Time Trial) to get yourself to the next level. The road bike is what you train with, whether it is on the trainer or riding on the road, this bike is used to pouring sweat and Amino Vital all over in preparation for the big dance. The TT bike is for race day.
A strength the road bike has over the TT bike is it’s better on hills. Some triathletes use their road bikes in hillier courses, but in my opinion, it’s still faster using the TT bike on race day. The TT bike is designed for you to get into the best aero position while your body rests on your skeleton instead of your muscles during the duration of the ride (unless you’re climbing – at that point, you’re using your arms for support). Since you’re resting on your skeletal structure, you only have to use your legs to propel forward compared to your arms, abs, back AND legs while using a road bike. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the TT bike will help you go faster and SAVE energy during a ride. It’s an incredible piece of engineered art.
What other items does Derek suggest? See his list below and check out his blog for more details.
- Bike trainer
- Aerodynamic wheels (Zipp or ENVE)
- Aerodynamic helmets
- Water bottle holders (carbon or plastic; aerodynamic or storage)
- Ventilated shoes
- Quick release pedals
- Slip-in shoes
- Gear bag
Additionally, Derek wrote an awesome blog post with even more tips on the biking portion of a triathlon. Check it out and get moving!