In a previous blog, we discussed purchasing the correct type of bike and the importance of a correct bike set up.
Now that you are all comfortable and correctly set up on your bikes, let’s consider how you’re going to maintain that comfort and power on the bike for a 70.3 or Ironman distance event.
Obviously, following the correct type of structured program will ensure that you have the strength and endurance to maintain a good cycling technique and form for the entire distance.
If you train correctly on the bike, you will feel fresh off the bike and be in good shape for a decent run. If you prepare inadequately, you race will be over before your first step off the bike.
Here are some basic cycling tips to help beginners become more efficient cyclists.
The importance of ironman cycle training is to build the biggest possible aerobic base, so that when you get off your bike, your body isn’t drained of all its energy. By feeling fresh off the bike, you’ll be in good shape to have a decent run.
The majority of your cycling training will be aerobically based, as this is where you will spend more than 90% of your ride.
Our programs generally follow a 2 week hard /1 week recovery cycle. In the 2 harder weeks, the focus is on bigger mileage at a lower intensity, combined with some hills and big gear work to build strength and endurance.
In the recovery week, it’s good to add a little more intensity. Some interval sessions or time trials that get the heart rate into the anaerobic zone for periods of 5 minutes to 20 minutes will further help your body cope with the strenuous swim to bike transition as this is definitely where the heart rate is at its highest, and if your body is able to cope with this higher than normal intensity for 20 minutes, it gives you enough time to settle down after the swim and bring the heart rate back down.
Try to do the majority of your cycling in the aero position, so that you get used to this position.
Correct pedal technique is also important. It’s not about simply stomping down on the pedals, but rather applying a smooth and efficient pedalling motion.
At the top of the pedal stroke (12 o clock), work on pushing forwards as well as downwards. Once you get to the 3 o clock position, push down and pull back as if scraping something off the bottom of your foot. Then pull up back to the 12 o clock position.
Ideal cadence also helps develop good pedalling technique and this is obviously related to gears. Basically, try ride with a smooth, controlled pedal rotation, without lifting your butt off the saddle and without bouncing around on the pedals. If you are bouncing around, select a bigger gear.
Here is some race advice from one of our top age groupers – Kelly van der Toorn:
‘I spend the first 15 minutes getting into a rhythm on the bike and try to settle my stomach after the sea swim…sometimes you have taken in sea water and don’t want to start on the gels immediately. I use GU Roctane gels taking one after 15 minutes and then every 45 minutes thereafter. I tape them with duct tape to my top tube so I can tear off easily, then store the wrappers in my tri suit until I pass a ‘litter zone’. I try to take most of my fluids before the last 20k, only sipping as needed towards the end, as I don’t run well if my stomach is sloshing around!’
Remember to prepare well, have a plan, and stick with it. Don’t get caught up with everyone else’s race plans. Only you know how well prepared you are, and what you can or can’t handle.