Triathlon Training Tips: The Wheel Deal

WITH ITS FOCUS on cardiovascular capacity and leg strength, cycling often comes more naturally to runners than swimming. We asked Bicycling magazine contributing editor Joe Lindsey for some pointers on making the bike your friend.

Get fit
You’ll go fastest on a nice road bike, but you can take on your first race on just about any bicycle. Above all, it needs to be the right size for you. “An ill-fitting bike can hurt your knees and waste your energy,” says Lindsey, who recommends going to a local bike shop for a fitting.

Don’t be a pedal masher
Runners have a tendency to ride with a low cadence in a hard gear, which wears out their legs. On the flats, aim for a cadence of 90 revolutions per minute. To ballpark your cadence, count your pedal strokes for 30 seconds and multiply that by two.

Master the quick change
You should know how to change a flat before you take on a bike race. Ask a friend or a mechanic at your local bike shop to show you (or check out the demonstrations on bicycling.com). Then practice at home, when the pressure is off, so you can capably be your own mechanic.

Train for the course
Replicate the racecourse in your training. If the course is hilly, train on hills. If it’s flat, train on the flats. That said, all triathletes benefit from hill work. Climbing builds strength and endurance without having to go faster.

DO THIS (How your bike should fit and your body sit)
When your leg is extended, there should be a slight bend in your knee.
When the pedal is at 2 o’clock, drop your heel to push through the power phase of the stroke; at 7 o’clock, lift your heel to pull through the back of the stroke.
You should have a slight bend in your elbow when your hands are on the brake hoods. If you have pain or numbness in your shoulders, hands, or wrists, the reach to the handle-bars may be too long.


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