The bike segment of any triathlon race is the longest and most grueling of the three disciplines and is sandwiched between the swimming and running segments. It’s also the most critical of the three segments for winning the race, as this is the part where you can lose or make up for the most time. If you are training for a triathlon, you need to excel at the bike ride segment to improve your chances of winning the race or finishing in a strong position.
How to Ride a Triathlon Bike
Most athletes don’t know how to ride a triathlon bike, and you must train on it regularly so that you are comfortable riding the bike for long distances. You will gradually need to improve your times as well, but that comes later. We will share some of the top tips for riding a triathlon bike designed to help improve your performance for the race. Here is how you should ride a triathlon bike:
1. Add Aero Bars
Time trial bikes that are triathlon-specific are much different than traditional road bikes as they have tighter geometrics. The compact frame of a triathlon bike helps you get your body into an aerodynamic position so that you cut down on drag. The aerodynamic construction of these bikes improves your time as you can ride faster on the course and put up great times. However, these bikes are also more expensive than traditional road bikes and are generally not required for beginners training for a triathlon.
You don’t need a triathlon bike if you are a beginner. You can make simple modifications to your road bike and practice on it. The best modification you can get for your road bike is to put aero bars on it, essentially two metal bars that have pads at the closest ends to the rider. These can be clipped onto the regular handlebars and allow your body to drop into an aerodynamic position. You can rest your elbows on the pads and point your arms forward so that your body is tucked in and allows you to ride at maximum speed.
1. Ride in a Tucked in Position
You may feel unbalanced and awkward at first when you are in a tucked-in position. However, you must train to ride your bike in an aerodynamic position, which means your forearms and elbows should be pulled in and rest on the pads. When you practice riding your bike in this position, putting up faster bike ride times become easier. You will also be more comfortable and at ease on race day and breeze past competitors who haven’t trained to ride in an aerodynamic position.
When training to ride with aero bars safely, you should practice in parks and bike paths where you won’t come across any stoplights. When training and racing, you should drop into the aerodynamic position on gradual climbs and flat sections where there won’t be many turns.
2. No Riding with Tippy-Toes if You Want Good Form
The perfect pedaling speed that you should aim for when learning how to ride a triathlon bike is to aim for 90 revolutions per minute at an easy and light gear. You can test it with a simple computer instead of counting it out. Anything less than that, and you will be overexerting yourself as you will be trying to push a bigger gear without needing it. It would be best if you also aimed not to ride on your tippy-toes, as you won’t attain much speed, and your balance will be out of equilibrium.
You should bring your heels down when pedaling, as riding with your heels level with your toes helps to engage the gluteal muscles that allow you to achieve maximum power. You also want to keep your upper body as still as possible because swaying back and forth will hamper your speed, and you will be wasting needless energy.
3. Understand the Course
You need to understand the limits of the racecourse you will be riding on during your triathlon race so that you can train for the challenges that come your way. You will need to model your entire training regimen on the racecourse to ensure you are ready for it on race day. If the course is flat, you should do interval training on flat courses. If the course is hilly, you must ride on hills to build your power and train appropriately for how much energy you will exert.
After understanding the racecourse for your triathlon race, you give yourself a distinct advantage over other competitors. You will be familiar with the course’s challenges and can easily withstand any obstacle while also giving yourself the best opportunity to post a fast time.
4. Ride Twice Every Week
It would be best if you tried to ride your bike at least twice every week to build up your stamina for the race. One ride should be a more extended, aerobic effort to build up endurance, and the second ride should be at a challenging pace, where you are exerting yourself and breathing heavily. If you’re new to cycling, you shouldn’t push yourself too hard on the second ride and slowly build up to a pace you are comfortable with.
You can ramp up your efforts and start practicing harder with shorter and more intense workouts so that you can build your endurance and set the pace for the race.
Our Final Thoughts
Training to ride a triathlon bike is not the easiest thing you will ever do, and it will take you a lot of time and effort building up to race day. However, once you get comfortable with your bike and start pushing yourself in training, you will give yourself a distinct advantage on race day.