Not only do many amateur triathletes get the bike portion of the race completely wrong, but they often never realize it.
So without further ado, here the top five secret bike tips to race like a triathlon pro.
Drink and Eat on the Bike So You're Ready for the Run1 of 6
One of the most common mistakes that many amateur triathletes make is that they don't drink or eat enough on the bike.
Here's the simple rule of thumb to remember: If you wait for the run portion of the triathlon to take in your nutrition and hydration, you're too late. The secret to a fast run is to drink and eat on the bike.
Spin to Win2 of 6
Almost all professional triathletes use a wattage meter to determine their exact effort (in watts) on the bike. This way they know how much power they are using at any given mile on the bike course, which helps conserve energy. Pros rarely use too much power on the bike, so they have enough energy to race the run.
Don't fret. If you are not a pro and you don't have a power meter on your bike, you can use your heart rate to judge your effort. The higher your heart rate, the more power and energy you are using.
It takes a lot more power to push a big gear than a smaller one. If you are spinning your legs at a relatively high pace, you are not using as much power and energy as when you slowly push the pedals in a big gear. In other words, spin to win.
It's Not About the Car; It's About the Engine3 of 6
Don't be fooled—you can't buy your way onto the podium in a triathlon. The amount of money you spend on your bike is not nearly as important as the amount of time you spend riding it.
Many triathletes get caught up in the gear, looking for the fastest, lightest and most expensive bike.
Sure, advanced bike technology like disk wheels, aerodynamic bike helmets and power meters are great tools to help you ride faster, but they are also very expensive tools and will only get you seconds of savings.
So if you want to be the fastest triathlete in your age group, just plan on spending lots of time training on the bike—any bike.
The Bike Trainer Is Your Best Friend4 of 6
Riding a bike in the cold, rain or snow is no fun. But you can still ride and train in the comfort of your own home and in front of the TV. All you need is a bike trainer.
Bike trainers are not very expensive ($150 to $250 for a good one), and they allow you to train year-round even when the weather is nasty.
They also provide the added benefit of allowing you to ride your own bike at any intensity level for your own ideal workout.
Brick Workouts Help Create Painless Transitions5 of 6
A brick workout is when you train going from the bike to the run. In other words, at the end of your bike ride you slip on your running shoes and immediately go for training run.
Practicing this helps get your body used to transitions from spinning to running.
Brick workouts also help keep you from cramping in the first mile of the run. All too often, newbie triathletes will start the run only to find that their brain says go, but their leg muscles say no.
This issue can arise because you didn't drink enough on the bike or didn't take in enough sodium or you've never practiced going from the bike to the run.
Either way, the best medicine for a painless bike-run transition is the brick workout.