Gabi at Lean Green Island Girl, Michelle at Ironwoman Strong and I are all training for Ironman Louisville. It is really exciting (and encouraging) to be sharing this journey with these two amazing women!
This week's topic is bike, the longest leg of a triathlon. Mike and I were swimmers growing up and picked up running relatively easily with the help of Couch-to-5K, but I hadn't ridden a bike in about 10 years when we started training for our first triathlon.
It is, like they say, just like riding a bike. Our first bikes were very basic road bikes, but they did get us through our first five multi-sport events (two duathlons, two sprint tris and one Olympic tri). Really all you need to finish a triathlon (or duathlon) is a bike, helmet and running shoes.
When it came time to train for our first 70.3, we knew that we were going to need to upgrade our bikes. We had already upgraded to clipless pedals, which took some getting used to and I fell A LOT the first time we practiced clipping in and out. We eventually decided that we were going to make the switch to tri bikes.
Old bike, new bike
They have helped immensely and I have really grown to love cycling because of my bike. My speed has increased from around 14mph on my old road bike to 16-17mph on a shorter ride on my tri bike. I am still not that fast and I am working on increasing my speed. One of my main goals for our Ironman is to be able to do the bike in 7 hours or less, which means that I will have to average around 16mph.
The bike leg during a triathlon is different than cycling that you may see on TV. There is no peloton during a triathlon and in fact you can be penalized for drafting. During a USAT-sanctioned event all cyclists must keep three bike-lengths between them. If you start to overtake a cyclist and enter the "draft zone" you have 15 seconds to pass the other cyclist (and you may not back off if you initiated passing). The person who was passed must back off and exit the draft zone, and then if they need to they may attempt to pass again.
Making a weird face while leaving transition at the Rochester Tri
In order to get better on the bike, you need to bike a lot, in different conditions, on the trainer, on hills, etc. In order to bike faster, you need to bike faster. Sometimes I struggle with allowing myself to push harder in the beginning of a ride because I am afraid that I won't be able to maintain that speed for the duration. Luckily, Mike is a faster cyclist than me and I spend the majority of our rides chasing him!
Next week's topic is: run.