If you want some good entertainment, head over to the swim-bike transition exit of any triathlon. There you'll find triathletes swerving, fumbling, and falling all over the road as they attempt to simultaneously clip into their pedals, steer out of the transition area, and sometimes even eat—although why that bar can't wait just a few minutes to be eaten has always baffled me. Triathlon cycling requires a unique set of skills in addition to those required of traditional cyclists.
You can usually spot the triathletes in a group of cyclists on the road. They are the ones that swerve dangerously away from the shoulder, obliviously locked into their aerobars, a position that can be notoriously difficult to handle compared to the traditional road cycling handlebar position.
Cycling Events Near You
Traditional cycling skills require that you know how to adapt to group cycling where there are frequent changes of pace, quick cornering, and acceleration and deceleration, all with your wheel dangerously close to the rider in front of you.
Triathlon cycling presents an entirely different set of bike-handling requirements, which include riding in an aero position without swerving, clipping into a bike in a crowded transition area, and handling mounts and dismounts while racing.
You can improve these triathlon cycling skills by practicing a few drills. Here are three of my favorites:
Ride the Paint
This drill will help you learn how to ride in a straight line without swerving. As the name implies, it involves riding in the aero position while trying to keep your bike centered over, or right next to, the painted line on the shoulder of the road.
Please use caution when practicing this drill: Stick to roads that don't have a lot of traffic; don't do this drill when the roads are slick, as the paint line is usually the slickest; and, in general, try to stay slightly right of the paint where there is a little more grip for your tires.