#4. Flatten the Course
You best cycling strategy, to set up for a great run, is to maintain a very steady effort across all terrain. Avoid big surges on hills and excessive coasting on downhills. Imagine your foot is on a gas pedal.
- On hills, only give it a little bit more gas, even if everyone around you stomps on the gas.
- Across the crest of the hill and into the downhill, stay on the gas. Maintain that steady effort as everyone else comes way off the gas and coasts as they pay for that surging effort on the climb. You might descend at 33 to 36 mph, for example, to their 28 to 30 mph, carrying that speed into the next hill?and the next?and the next.
- That foot on the gas pedal is locked in the same position on flats, false flats, slight downhills, etc.
#5. Show Up with Enough Gears on Your Bike
Your bike should have proper gearing for your race course in order to successfully execute the "flatten the course" strategy above.
What gearing is best? In general, you can never have enough gears in an Ironman. This is what I ride for the various races:
- For all races, I use a compact crank with 50/34 gearing, then add:
- 23-11 for Ironman Texas, Florida and Arizona
- 26-11 for 25-12 for Ironman St. George, Coeur d'Alene, Lake Placid, New York and Mont-Tremblant
- 26-11 for Ironman Wisconsin
#6. Look for Free Speed First
112 miles is a long time for smart, aerodynamic choices to express themselves. Your biggest return-on-investment opportunities on the Ironman bike are:
- Bike fit: The largest aerodynamic component of the bike system is YOU. A proper bike fit can dramatically improve your aerodynamics while keeping you comfortable on the bike.
- Aero helmet: A big aerodynamic return for your $130 to $200 investment.
- Bottle/tool placement: An efficient, clean, well-thought-out setup will significantly improve your aerodynamics.