Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Improving on the Bike

I can't believe that APRIL is here already.  It only seems like yesterday that I celebrated my birthday.  Geez.  It's the first Tuesday of the month so you know what that means... It's time for Tri Talk Tuesday!  This month my lovely co-hosts, Courtney & Cynthia and I are chatting about how to improve on the bike.  Given it's the longest distance discipline of the three sports, this is where you stand to make the most in terms of time gains.

So, how can you get better on the bike?  There are some things you can do that will be costly and others that won't cost you anything.  Here are my 4 tips:

1.  Train with Power

This is the costliest option but it's also the most bang for your buck in my opinion.  The power you are able to generate on the bike is absolute - a watt is a watt.  It is not affected by things like temperature, dehydration etc, as heart rate is.  So even if you're racing on a super hot day, the power you are able to generate will stay the same, unlike your heart rate which will affected by the heat.  If you were training by heart rate and it was a hot day, your heart rate would more than likely be elevated so it wouldn't be an accurate reflection of your proper racing zones.

2.  Get properly Fit

This is probably the next costliest option.  A good bike fit will set you back anywhere between $300-$400.  If you're going to spend money on a tri bike, spend the money on getting fit properly so you get the most out of your bike.  A good fit makes all the difference on a tri bike.  A poor fit can cost you power and comfort.  Even being off by the slightest millimeter can make a difference in your comfort level and the amount of power you can generate on the bike.  I would also include getting an appropriate saddle as part of your bike fit.  I've never been comfortable on the stock saddles that have come on my various tri bikes.  You might be one of the lucky ones that is but if you're not, you may have to do some research.  Being comfortable on your bike, especially in your aero bars means that you'll get the most benefit out of it.  If you're not riding in your aero bars then why are you on a tri bike? 

3.  Ride with a Group

This may or may not cost you anything.  If you choose to join a tri club then obviously there are club dues.  Or maybe you just have a large group of triathlete friends that you like to ride with.  Either way, riding with a large group that has people that are faster than you in it, is another great way to improve your cycling.  You are more apt to work harder at keeping up with the group vs. if you rode on your own.  Riding in a group will also help you get more comfortable handling your bike with people around you. 

4.  Improve Your Pedaling Efficiency - Drills

Cheapest option going.  Look up cycling drills on you tube, get on your trainer, and work your butt off.  Seriously though, working on making your pedal stroke more efficient (i.e no dead spots) will translate to more power.  One of the best drills for improving your pedal stroke is the single leg drill.  I try to incorporate a few of them into my warm up while I'm on the trainer.  You can also do them outside if you're one of those lucky people that lives somewhere you can ride outside all year round. 

Do you have any tips you'd add to this list?  Head on over to the link up and check out some other posts!


Smitha @ FauxRunner said...

I'm sure I'll start training with power next season. Right now it is just heart rate training and keeping it simple. Even with a coach, the bike overwhelms me at times.

That one legged drill has also helped me get momentum on the bike before I clip in my second leg.

Kristen said...

YES! I thoroughly enjoy your tri-talk posts. You all need to start doing them more than just once a month now that it’s tri season. ;)

I agree with everything on your list. I trained with power last year and it made all the difference. I have a tendency to go out to hard and exert too much effort quickly, so it was nice to have a visual zone of where I “need” to be for best performance overall. I would also agree that riding with other people is incredibly important. Last summer I did a 114 mile group ride (there were 10 of us) and not only did it push me and give me confidence, but it allowed me to learn from others and let go of insecurities. I get rather intimidated by other cyclists, so it was nice to be a part of a group and feel connected, rather than an outsider.

Amy said...

I train with power on the trainer but not on the road. Powermeters are something I haven't tackled yet. All in good time ... all in good time.

Unknown said...

Great tips! I think the riding in groups has contributed to my biggest improvements!

Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner said...

I've never trained with a power monitor on the outdoor bike but I do have one on the spin bike. Do you think that helps at all?

Kelli said...

Good ones! Training with power made a big difference to me. Also much easier to track progress when you can periodically do an FTP sufferfest...

Courtney@The TriGirl Chronicles said...

Single leg drills are the bane of my existence! I hate those suckers. Yes to power and group rides!

Amber @ Eat 2 Save Your Life said...

These are all great! So many people neglect the bike fit which can not only translate to loss of power but injuries as well! While they can be quite costly I have found, at least in my area, there are physical therapists who specialize in working with cyclist and some major insurance carriers will actually pay for your bike fit at a physical therapist office, you just pay the copay :)

Sandra Laflamme said...

I could totally use some more drills to do on my bike. Thank you for posting about the one leg drill. I will need to try this!