Triathlons aren’t as simple as ‘riding a bike’. There is a lot more effort, skill, expertise, and practice apart from sweat and tears that leads to triathlon success. When triathletes focus on speed, leaving out basic bike handling skills, after a point they find it difficult to even keep the rubber on the pavement.
So, here are 10 basic cycling skills that will zip you towards the next triathlon event finish line like a champ:
1. The ‘Start’
Head outdoors only after you master the clipping process with indoor practice on a trainer or by leaning against a wall. Familiarize yourself with the angle you need to make to rapidly clip and unclip the pedals.
Usually, it can be done by placing one foot on the ground and other into a 2 o’ clock position into the pedal.
2. The ‘Stop’
You have two brakes; the left-hand controls your front brake while the other controls the back. Use the powerful front brake alone and you could flip over. Make sure you press both the brakes gently and then lean to unclip and set your foot down.
3. Managing Corners
Practice is the key here. So, slow down when you spot a corner and aim to take the easy part of the corner. Now, lean your bike and balance your position by resting your outside foot on the ground. Place more weight on the outside foot, this will help you to swiftly manage the corners. Practice on an empty road or park to avoid any accidents.
4. Practice Control
Get comfortable in your seat; flow with the bike; to an extent that you can multi-task while riding it. To get to that state of biking nirvana, go to a comfortable green field, practice riding one-handed and then without using your hands. Now, use your hands to unwrap your food, drink water or to simply adjust music, without losing focus on the ground. Control your bike.
5. Traffic Management
On a congested road, go ‘defensive”. Prepare for and protect yourself from all potential risk. Ride in a straight line and follow traffic rules.
6. Shifting Gears
Practice shifting gears seamlessly. If you are heading to a corner, downshift because you will be slow when you’ll come out of the corner. Learn to avoid cross chaining, or riding the large chain-ring – shift the front derailleur before this happens to ensure safety.
It is the rate at which cyclist pedal. So, there isn’t any magical number; average cyclists have a cadence of 60 RPM; but if you want to excel, 80 to 100 RPM is an ideal range to avoid leg fatigue and slow-twitch muscles… To begin, calculate the number of times your right knee comes up in 30 seconds. Now, keep improving that number.
8. Climbing hills
Riding uphill requires attention, balance, and right effort. Make your climb smooth; practice hard to avoid hunching over the handlebars, rather keep sitting and standing in short intervals to climb easily using less pressure and effort. Don’t’ forget to shift too!
Balancing your weight and keeping the center of gravity low is crucial while descending. So, lean over, bend your arms and locate the position in which your weight gets evenly distributed over both the wheels. Once you figure out the stance, continue descending but brake and corner carefully, brake gently and place one foot down.
10. Group Riding
Before you begin group riding, observe a few triathlon events; carefully analyzing the movements and pace-lining. In traffic, be predictable. Follow the people in front of you while riding on straight paths and rounding corners. Maintain a safe distance from other riders.
5 Tips To Trump Your Own Cycling Speed
- Focus on Aerodynamics – Improve your body posture. Make sure you ride in the hoods, tuck your elbow in front of your knees, lower your head and keep your back flat by lowering your torso. Aerodynamic clothes and helmet help you speed up safely.
- A well-balanced diet matters – Maintain a healthy weight. It helps in speeding up – it’s all about the power-to-weight ratio.
- Challenge yourself – Ride with your partner. It has 2 major benefits. One, you save 40% energy expenditure when you ride behind someone and are not directly exposed to wind; two, when you compete with your partner/trainer, you start performing better.
- Handle your bike perfectly – Practice track stand, join a group ride or ride hands-free.
- Increase your lactate threshold. It is the highest average speed that you can maintain for longer periods like 60 minutes or more. Train yourself at regular intervals to improve efficiency.
Tips to Repair Your Cycle During a Race
Here are some quick-fixes to handle minor breakdowns during triathlon events:
- Chain stops shifting correctly – Clean and rinse your chain and cassette with chain-cleaners and lubricate it well.
- Wheel alignment goes wonky – Open the quick-release lever and spin the nut on the other side to loosen. Now, gently dislodge it from the dropouts. When you tighten it, place the bike on the ground to align the wheel properly.
- A flat tire? – Inflate the tube to the lowest PSI recommended. Also, check for a pebble, nail or any other sharp thing gored into the tire.
- The chain keeps dropping – Try easing off when you shift gears or seek professional help to adjust the limit screws on your front derailleur.
Apart from the above, it is important to dress right for your next triathlon event. So, pick a tri kit that is comfortable. Good Triathlon gear will help you perform better and enhance your muscle movement and speed. Don’t forget JustWetsuits can help you find the perfect wetsuits for your swim portion of the triathlon too. Give us a call or browse our selection of different 8 brands on our website.