Coaching 101, Last week, we presented  thoughts on the progressions we need to consider to improve our triathlon swimming. This week we explore the bike.

Number one on the list for cycling is bike handling skills, bike set up, cycling posture and confidence.  I helping a beginner cyclist take them out for some one on one cycling. First  work in a controlled environment practicing the basic bike handling skills of cornering and balance. The progress here was quite good. However the next time you ride look at applying the same skills on the road around the roundabouts of the quiet suburbs and car carks. Suddenly simply skills of signalling to turn, looking behind to make decisions about traffic, and cornering look like you may be  riding on ice in the middle of the CBD.

Until you are comfortable on your bike, riding one hand, no-hands, drinking and riding, signalling, cornering, riding in a bunch, learning how to blend into the traffic and descending I would invest significant time into making sure you are all over this. Once the confidence is in place you can work on the basics of pedalling technique and using your gears, to make your pedal stroke and performance as efficient as possible. To start with challenging your pedal stroke with higher cadence riding is the best strategy. Then it comes down to work. The beauty of the bike is that you reap what you sow. The more you ride and more importantly the harder you learn to press the more gains you will generally get.

Very few people are natural cyclists, most get where they are through hard work. Again just like swimming most people think they work hard when they ride, but the reality is they are most likely falling well short. Hills, time trials, big gear or high cadence efforts, intervals etc. are all vital ingredients. HR, power, perceived exertion are all key measures of the effort you are putting in. The easiest way to achieve this is to ride with better cyclists and any most Club sessions will give you the opportunity to test yourself.  Whether it be in the real world or the cyber world chasing someone up a hill is always going to work you harder than you would on your own. To take your riding to another level you need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

When you think you are going hard, – Go harder! To quote  “when I am climbing a hill and racing others, when I start to hurt I just think 10sec more, if I can just hang on for another 10sec that may be enough for the break to happen.” Most age group triathletes think they are going hard when they ride, but the reality is far from it! If you are not bent over gasping at the top of a climb there is plenty of room to press more. If you are going long course then repeated hard hills is a great way to build resilience in the legs so they can repeatedly produce a moderate level of power over an extended period of time. Steeper hills or bigger gear work can help here.

With the fitness growing it is time to learn how to ride a hard TT over race specific courses (flat, hills etc.). This involves setting up your pacing strategy, and then repeating the ride in training and races until you are comfortable with the level of effort (discomfort) required. Fundamental to the best performance possible is making sure you can stay aero the entire ride and minimise changes in pace that can occur around corners or when riding over hills or in the wind.



Extract from the Lakers “BTW” by N.Pietsch