Riding inside will get you fit. And you won't be rained-on, sunburnt or be at risk for a run-in with an angry motorist. But if you plan on racing a triathlon outdoors, you should really work on your bike-handling skills. Even the pros take the time to become comfortable when riding their bikes, so why wouldn't you?
Understanding how your bike moves when you're riding uphill, downhill and into or with the wind, means you'll be safer the next time you ride. You'll become familiar with how to make quick stops, effortless starts and evasive maneuvers around road hazards.
Safety in Groups
Triathlon is mostly an individual sport. But at some point you may want to do a fun, social group ride. On race day, you could be on a course with hundreds of other competitors. Knowing how to move when riding with—or around—other cyclists is a must-practice skill.
When you're comfortable on your bike, you can ride longer and faster. You won't waste energy being tense and having a death grip on your bars, or be tight in the shoulders when descending. And you'll be less sore after your ride!
If you're relaxed and comfortable on the bike, you'll be able to put out more power and spin more smoothly. You can go the same speed with less effort, or go faster for the same effort once you've practiced bike handling.
What's Old is New Again
If you're relaxed and are pedaling with efficiency, you'll notice things on your ride you might not have seen previously; the sky is amazing just after sunrise or just before sunset when viewed from a bike. You'll be able to ride and enjoy while still keeping your focus on the road since you've practiced bike handling skills and can appreciate your surroundings.
Grab a Snack or a Drink
Drinking and eating on the bike is another must-have skill. You can pre-open nutrition packaging to make consuming them while riding easier, but you'll still need to reach into your cycling jersey pocket to grab a snack. Pulling your hydration bottle from the bottle cage, and then replacing it while you're riding, is another bike skill to practice. You'll be so much more efficient on the bike if you're properly fed and hydrated.
Don't Overheat or Get a Chill
Practice adjusting the zipper on your jersey to regulate your temperature while cycling. You might even practice putting-on and taking-off gloves during autumn and spring rides. You don't want to overheat on a long climb or freeze your fingers on a descent. These are tasks accomplished by being able to ride one-handed or with no-hands on the bars—a valuable skill.
The sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with riding easily because you've practiced your bike handling skills is so rewarding.
Save Your Gear
If you're falling down when trying to clip into your pedals, you'll invariably put greater wear and tear on your body, your bike and your gear. Practice using your pedals, so you and your gear will be scratch- and dent-free.
Have More Fun
If you're not stressed and not suffering when you don't need to be suffering, you'll have more fun on the bike. That's why we do it, right?
READ THIS NEXT: A Bike Handling Skills Refresher