Although some beginning triathletes perceive the bike to be the easiest portion of a triathlon, casually viewing it as a restful period between a tough swim and difficult run, nothing could be farther from the truth. The fact is that you can entirely alter your race performance with a strong bike; conversely, you can seriously hinder the outcome with a poor cycling section. Truthfully, when it comes to triathlon training, nothing beats time in the saddle.
But, spending training hours on your bike does not always equate with success. Just jumping on and turning those pedals incessantly will not guarantee individual improvement; in fact, unless you pay close attention to how you are riding, you probably won’t see the type of progress you deserve.
So, how do you cycle better? First, understand that most people have a dominant cycling leg, as they push harder with one over the other, which creates an imbalance in the pedal stroke. Using one-legged drills on stationary bikes helps to eliminate this problem, so make sure the training you complete addresses the issue of balance in the stroke to maximize your output.
Second, train for the race you intend to ride. Too many people think they need to log endless miles, which is not the case if you plan on doing a sprint triathlon. Likewise, don’t focus on speed alone when training for the 180 km of an Ironman. Specify your efforts to reflect what the end result will be.
Finally, address your form on the bike. You must get into the most consistently aerodynamic position as possible while still being able to maximize power. For longer rides , a more upright position is needed to give you better comfort over a long distance, whereas in a shorter time trial you can use the aerobar position to streamline your body and, despite the reduced comfort, decrease the time spent on the bike.
If you work to analyze how you are cycling rather than simply getting out and riding, you will discover that your potential is certainly greater than you imagined. Training isn’t always about the time invested, but more about quality injected. Be specific and reflective in your approach, and it will pay off on race day.