The bike leg of a triathlon is usually the longest part of the race for most athletes. So it’s important to prepare well for this section.
Spin classes are an excellent place to begin to build the specific leg conditioning necessary to pedal like Mark Cavendish. It’s important that you feel comfortable at different intensity levels while sitting in the saddle and standing up. A Spin class will help you practice good pedalling technique and using your muscles in different ways.
You’ll also get good advice on setting your bike up – a correct seat height and good reach to the bars are important to avoid back and knee injuries further down the line. It is also a good time to practice with clipped in pedals if this is something you are going to try out on the road.
For the Virgin Active London Triathlon there are no restrictions on the types of bike that can be used so shopping bikes, mountain bikes and hybrids are all fine. Last year, one competitor even brought along a Boris Bike for the day!
Other things to consider are a good quality saddle and padded lycra cycling shorts. These do not have to cost a fortune, the best saddle is the one that suits you the best. For some this means more padding, for others a firmer saddle is more comfortable – ask your local bike shop for advice on which models might work for you.
Spin classes are an excellent place to begin to build the specific leg conditioning necessary to pedal like Mark Cavendish
If you want to take the sport to the next level, it is time to invest in a good road bike with drop handlebars and think about adding a pair of clip-on tribars. These allow the rider to get into a much lower, more aerodynamic position and therefore ride faster for less effort. They take a bit of getting used to so once you have added them to your bike perhaps do a few laps in a local park or on quiet roads to get the hang of the new position.
Once you are all set up, it’s time to put some miles on the bike. Make sure you are carrying plenty of nutrition – energy bars and an energy drink will help to get you home on days when you are flagging. Becoming comfortable with your bike, learning when to change gears smoothly, when to brake as you approach corners and descending safely are all skills that you will improve as you ride more.
It is also worth learning how to change a puncture as this may happen during the race and is something that you should be able to do confidently if the situation arises. Again your local bike shop will be able to advise on the tools you will need for the job. As the race approaches you should also get your bike serviced to be sure that everything is in good working order.
Above all – cycling is a fun, healthy sport, so whether it’s in the gym or out on the road, you are going to be getting fitter, faster and another step nearer to your goal of completing a triathlon.