Cycling is the second leg of a triathlon race and the longest one. That’s good news for all of us cyclists! Some might be even tempted to say to themselves: I’m pretty good, these triathletes have nothing to teach me when it comes to riding a bike. You might be surprised. If you don’t adjust your riding style to fit a triathlon type of race, your advantage can easily disappear.
Know your advantage as a biker
It’s safe to say that as a cyclist you’ll be passing people during the bike portion of the race. But different biking experiences give you an edge in different aspects of triathlon. For example road cycling, and time-trialling especially, creates great mental strength that will help you in long ironman triathlons. The surface is usually asphalt and it’s forbidden to draft so you’ll be able to use your experience in pushing the pace alone. Those of you with mountain biking background will best utilize their superior bike handling skills in off-road triathlons or shorter road courses where it’s allowed to draft and a lot of maneuvering is necessary. Cyclo-cross teaches you the skills required for a quick transition, jumping on an off your bike quickly will come in handy for sprint triathlons where seconds in the depo can make a difference.
Get comfortable on the aero bars
If you go for a long course ironman triathlon (and you should, just because it contains a 180km biking course), you will need to get comfortable on aero bars to stay competitive. The key to effective aero riding is core strength and flexibility, and many hours spent in the correct position. Don’t be like the people who buy a crazy expensive tri bike and then ride on its bullhorns because their back starts hurting. The goal is to remain in your aero tuck on flats and change position for hills, aerodynamics mean very little under 25 km/h (15 miles per hour).
Give your legs a break when coming into transition
When coming close to the transition area start pedaling faster than usual but with almost no power. It will help reduce the lactic acid build-up in your legs. You can also try focusing on pedaling only on the way up through the last kilometer or so. That way you use your hamstrings more and your quads will be a bit fresher to kick off the run.
Practice riding right after a swim
Transitional training sessions are key for novice triathletes. The more times you do a short run off your bike, the better. The same goes for going for a swim before a long cycling session. If you want to go all out on the transition training, find a fitness center that has a pool and do a mini triathlon in there. Do 10 minutes of each discipline transitioning as quickly as the lifeguard allows.