Getting Faster on the Bike (For Triathlon) Part 2

29 Apr

So following on from my last post, which will just below this one, here is the second half of my top 10 ten tips towards getting faster on the bike  (in no particular order).

6. Go Time Trialing

So a lot of the last post was about kit however at some point you have to actually pedal your bike. Where better to train than in a time trial. These are races against the clock and against yourself. Riders are set off at usually 1 minute intervals and you simply try to complete the course as quickly as you can. There are two types Club and Open. Open events need to be entered like any race. Club events are usually run in the evening midweek and can be usually be entered on the night for a few pounds. A nice person will hold you up at the start so you can clip in and then you go as hard as you can for the nomimated distance. Often it’s 10 miles but sometimes due to the vagaries of the roads it could be a slightly odd distance. It’s amazing what having a number on your back can do for motivation. Check with your local cycling clubs for the location and times of your local ‘evening 10’. As an aside you must be a member of a registered Time Trial Club to ride in either an open or club event. Many Tri clubs are registered and most cycling clubs are. Check first! If you have the time you can ride out and home again as a warmup / cool down and to get some cheeky extra miles in.

7. “Don’t Upgrade, Ride Up Grades”

Stolen from the legendary Eddy Merckx. This basically means don’t be shy of riding up hills no matter how bad you are at it. This is really another way of making yourself work hard on a bike. Most people can work harder up a slope as there is a definable end and a goal to the effort (probably why Time Trials work too). If you have a bike with aerobars it’s good to find a slope you can get up while still riding in the aero position and staying strong and still. Don’t let your cadence drop below 60 as it will play havoc with your knees. aim for between 30 mins to 60mins of efforts with the recovery being the time needed to descend back to the start. Start with 30 mins and add 10% a week.

8. The Sufferfest

People often struggle with the winter months and indoor training. Long rides on a turbo trainer can be really dull and the mind wanders. I tend to think you are better off smashing out a session and getting it over and done with. There are a variety of methods and programmes to follow but in my opinion you can’t go far wrong with doing a Sufferfest video. These are classic cycling interval sessions set to race footage and with loud music. There is often a bit of a story to follow. I’ve tried various indoor training videos and these are by far and away the best so I now own the whole set. You download them so the cost is relatively low (£10 or so depending on the exchange rate).

Go get them and watch some preview footage here

9. Get a biomechanics Analysis / Bodywork

This is one of the things that can really make a difference. “Biomechanics is the study of human movement, and how we move is important to every aspect of our lives. If your joints, muscles and nerves are aligned correctly, you can move freely. However poor biomechanics can cause pain and injury, restrict skill development and impair performance in work, sport and day to day living”. If your muscles aren’t firing properly or you are carrying injuries then you won’t perform on the bike. This worked wonders for me and several athletes that I coach. I also have regular massage twice a month to stay on top of any problems that might occur. My biomechanics coach does the massage so she can keep an eye on me. I have used and I recommend:

10. Surround yourself with better riders

It’s easy to be a big fish in a small pond. If you want to improve you need to be around people that are better than you. Can be hard on the ego but it will pay off. Note that this doesn’t mean thrashing yourself on the back of the big boys ride so hard that you can’t train for the rest of the week! Excellence breeds excellence however. If you are a triathlete go and join a cycling club, if you are a cyclist go racing. Get out of your comfort zone for a change. It can be humbling. I recently placed 27th out of 60 riders at an Open 25mile Time Trial. It has spurred me on to go quicker.

11. Don’t be sucked by all the kit / bikes / wheels

Everyone likes shiny toys however it’s easy to try to ‘buy’ speed. Don’t be in a rush, the tips above will all make a bigger difference. However if you have a bike fit and your current bike just doesn’t fit then you may have to get a new one. Kit is the icing on a cake and you need to bake a cake first. If you have the money spare then by all means go for it and enjoy it. Seek good advice and get a fit first.


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