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Tri Tips

Cycling toward the win

By Bryan Brosious

In life and in sport, cycling can make us feel free and fast. It's my favorite triathlon discipline because it allows so much diversity in training and racing. Here's what I've learned for peak performance during the cycling portion of the race.

  • Train consistently. For your first triathlon, train mostly at a moderate or easy pace. To "get in the miles" and "build your base," cycling three to four times per week is a good approach. Your week could include one long ride at an easy pace, one medium tempo ride or a ride with shorter interval repeats, and one or two easier recovery rides. Remember to fuel consistently before and during your rides with your chosen Hammer Nutrition products, and after your rides use Recoverite and Hammer Whey Protein. Hammer clothing will help you ride in comfort and style.
  • Prepare for the first transition. New triathletes often overlook the transition between the race's swim and bike portions, and that can be a costly mistake. It's important to be ready for it. Near the end of the swim portion, I begin to mentally rehearse my transition. I envision swimming until my hand touches the bottom near the edge of the water before standing up, removing my goggles and swim cap, and then working my wetsuit down to my waist. The key to a good transition is to move quickly, but not rush. Try to keep your transition items to a minimum and multitask, doing as much as you can do safely while moving on your bike - namely, consuming your Hammer fuels and hydrating.
  • Accelerate gradually. Once you're on the bike, build into your pace gradually. It's easy to start too fast, energized by the crowd's response as you exit transition. Try to rein yourself in until you find your rhythm. I focus on breathing deeply and pedaling smoothly for the first few minutes. After you find your pace, think about your nutrition and hydration. Hammer Gel and HEED work very well on the bike. Sometimes I use a small bottle of HEED; other times I drink plain water and use Hammer Gel. Depending on the race's duration, Perpetuem and Sustained Energy also can meet your nutritional needs on the bike. Proper pacing and nutrition will help you feel great and set you up for a strong run.
  • Get ready to run. In the final minutes of the bike, start preparing for the second transition. This usually means backing off the effort slightly, and increasing your cadence to unload your legs. Be cautious - there will be a lot of congestion in the dismount area: control your riding and keep your head up as you approach. When you're safely off your bike, move quickly but don't rush. Rack your bike, remove your helmet, and put on your running shoes. You're likely to find Hammer Gel and HEED served on the run course, but as insurance I always carry a few Hammer Gels with me into the run.

With proper training, well-executed transitions, and a well-paced bike segment, you'll be ready to run. Look for my tips on this final leg of the journey in the next Endurance News. HN