Triathletes training for a triathlon bike leg
Believe it or not, there is quite a bit to the correct cycling technique and training for a triathlon bike leg. The stronger you become at it, the more you will enjoy it. Riding a bike sounds relatively easy and it can be. But there are a number of tips, techniques and strategies when training for a triathlon bike leg. So let’s take a look at some basic’s to improve your current skills to ensure a strong fantastic cycling leg.
Mastering mount and dismount
There can be significant time and momentum gained by practising and become accustomed to performing flying mounts and dismounts when training for a triathlon bike leg. Although it will take some practise. You can start by wearing runners, so that you are not clipped in. You can commence by rolling your bike and practise standing on one pedal. Once you have mastered this. You can learn to practise to ride while standing on one pedal, with the other leg horizontal. This is the hardest step and takes some practice whilst training for a triathlon bike leg. It may take up to sixty minutes if you are like me to master this part. The final step is to practise to swing your leg over and onto the other pedal to cycle away. For the dismount, it is basically completely in reverse with some additional practise. When you are comfortable with the mount and dismount in joggers, it is time to progress onto using bike shoes. A good tip is to use elastic bands that hold the shoes in place at approximately three and nine o’clock. The bands will break as you cycle away and it makes it much easier to place your feet into the shoes whilst on the bike.
Another skill to learn when training for a triathlon bike leg will be steering the bike from the seat as you weave it through traffic without touching the handlebars. Again it will take some time and practise to refine this cycling skill. Although when completed well, it will save you significant time.
Whilst cycling and training for a triathlon bike leg it is important to think of your legs like pistons. So that when you look down at your legs the hip, knee and ankle should line up throughout the pedal stroke. This will enable maximal transfer of power through your stroke into the pedal. It will also eliminate any lateral movement of the hip, knee and ankle joint. This will reduce the possibility of injury as the joints to do have to perform excessive work to stabilise the joints through a number of planes, which can lead to over compensation from other unnecessary joints and muscles.
Try to keep your upper body still and practice steady power on the bike whilst training for a triathlon bike leg. This is regardless if there is a hill or flat section. Think about pedalling in a circular action with even power applied throughout the entire stroke. Many new triathletes training for a triathlon bike leg just use an up and down motion. They do not use their hamstrings at all. Occasionally this called a mashing technique. It is important to concentrate on pushing down on one leg as you pull up at the same time with the other leg.
Whilst training for a triathlon bike leg it is important to apply force throughout the entire cycle of the pedal, not just the downstroke. The easiest way to explain this is to think of a clock. The power phase of the pedal stoke is from 12 o’clock to 5 o’clock. This produces the greatest muscle activity, including the hamstrings. So whilst training for a triathlon bike leg concentrate on pulling you knee towards your chest. Then pushing your toes across the top of the cycle at 12’oclock. The ankle will commence the down portion of the stroke. Then finally pulling your heel towards the rear wheel. This will take some practise during training for a triathlon bike leg, but it will definitely be worth it. It is important to remember that occasionally when we fatigue during cycling there is a tendency to point the toes downward. The most efficient way to transfer power from your legs to the bike is with feet flat. This will ensure optimal power output through all stages of the stroke. So ensure to concentrate on your pedaling efficiency particularly when experiencing fatigue towards the end of the cycle leg and nearing the end of a cycling session.
A great drill to assist with peddling efficiency is using a stationary bike, performing single leg drills. After a short warm, you can feel the efficiency of each leg and determine what area of the stroke requires improvement.
Commonly new triathletes training for a triathlon bike leg have inefficient use of their gears. This is particularly noticeable when moving from hills to flats and over a rolling gradient. It it is crucial to ensure a smooth and timely transition of gears to avoid any loss of momentum. This will come with practice during training for a triathlon bike leg. Planning and preempting gears changes is the best method to maintain momentum. For example changing to a more appropriate gear as you round the top of a hill. Not once you are already at the peak and on the down side. A smooth and consistent cadence of 85 to 90rpm or maintaining a sustainable pedaling rate will assist with a smooth transition of gears.
We all love the sensation of a fast corner completed at speed to catapult along the course with momentum over that next hill. Although this will take practice when training for a triathlon bike leg. To ensure fast and safe cornering, you must distribute your upper body weight through the handle bars, ideally with the fingertips on the brakes. Distributing your body weight evenly between the front and rear tyres. Ideally you want to attempt to keep your body in line with the bike as much as possible ensuring the best centre of gravity when training for a triathlon bike leg. Then brake prior to entering the corner. Braking whilst corning will reduce traction and may cause you to skid and lose control. You should be focused on beyond the corner and looking ahead to where you want to go. If you focus on an obstacle ahead, that is what you will be fixated on and connect with. Try to enter the corner as wide as possible and hug the apex of the corner, exiting as wide as you can. Remember to try and keep you outside leg up and inside leg bent. This will avoid the inside leg hitting the ground and causing you to flip over.
It may sound like an obvious skill for new triathletes training for a triathlon bike leg, but there are a few essential things to practise. The front brake (located on the left) is your most powerful brake and should ideally be utilised most of the time. Although most new triathletes training for a triathlon bike leg tend to utilise their right break. As they are either right hand dominant or have concerns of flipping over if the front brake is applied too rapidly. To reduce the risk of flipping over, apply constant force with the left brake and push your body weight back over the bike seat. This will bring your body weight and centre of gravity closer to the ground and reduce the risk of flipping over. The rear brake is great to control the bike over wet and slippery surfaces and if the front bakes is not functioning appropriately. When traveling down hills at speed, the temptation from new triathletes training for a triathlon bike leg is to brake continuously whilst riding down the descent. Ideally again like a car, it is best to brake in spurts to avoid wearing out the brake pads.
Be alert when cycling in traffic
It may sound simple, but this is an extremely important concept. I always ride under the assumption that drivers don’t see me, because normally they don’t. Slow down at all intersections, watch out for cars opening their doors suddenly and always make eye contact with car and truck drivers. Ride as close to the side of the road as safely possible. Ensure you obey all traffic signs and lights. It is disappointing as a cyclist to be sitting in my car and watching other cyclists running red lights and ignoring traffic signals, providing ammunition to angry motorists who complain about cyclists. So try and respect the road rules, other road users and use hand signals so that other motorist know the direction that you are heading to minimize the risk of an accident whilst training for a triathlon bike leg.