Girls Run the World triathlon coach, Fran Bungay explains her simple tips for cycling improvement
In terms of cycling for triathlon, there is a tendency to think that you have to ride with a cadence of 90-100, because that’s what pro cyclists ride at, right? Yet they only train in cycling and most of them have been riding all their lives and so they can sit comfortably at that cadence.
For most mere mortals, this cadence will send your heart rate sky high, which is not a good recipe when you have to run a half or full marathon off the bike. Most triathletes will sit lower than that, on average about 85 rpm, and spend time focusing on building bike specific strength. This means you will be able to power through the bike leg, with a lower heart rate, so that you are in a better position to run off the bike.
In terms of technique on the bike, the one thing common to all of the best riders and triathletes is that the upper body is absolutely still and their pedal stroke is smooth and efficient.
Therefore there are a few things really worth considering when you are looking at riding long for the first time, and/or are relatively new to the sport.
Bike Set Up
Make sure that whoever fits you to your bike knows your experience and triathlon goals. Putting a novice triathlete into an aggressive TT position would be counter productive. Ensure that you are comfortable, that your hip flexors are not closed off and you are not over reaching. If you are, this will put strain on your lower back, and inhibit your ability to run off the bike.
Build Bike Specific Strength
Focus on building your bike specific strength (lots of over-geared hill reps!) and core strength, so that you are not wasting energy on your bike by rocking around all over the place.
And most importantly, spending consistent time in the saddle. You are better off riding 3 x 1hrs every week, than three hours once every three weeks. Once you have built a good base and strength, then you can start turning on the power. (For a core specific programme, try our 30 Day Core online programme).
Develop Your Bike Handling Skills
When riding long for a 70.3 or Iron distance triathlon or big ride, you need to fuel on the bike, so being confident to reach for your water bottle, collect food / hydration at aid stations, is really important. Make sure you understand how your gears work, for mixed terrain courses, and also how to corner, in all weather conditions, as you really do not know what it will do come race day.
Train On Your Race Bike
Make sure that the bike you train on, or your set up is the same as the one that you will race with or on.
And DO make sure you know how to change a puncture, or have a plan in place of how you will deal with a puncture come race day. The last thing you want for your key event is to have to quit 20k into your bike leg.