Start cycling now and begin training for your first triathlon
For those wanting to train for their first triathlon, having a set training pattern is important. You must spend time focusing on all three disciplines, swim, bike, run. This blog will focus on the bike portion and how to start cycling. Whether you’re a new rider or have been riding since you were a kid, training and racing on a bike is different. Welcome to How to Start Cycling 101. Pro tip: check out these other tips to start your triathlon training!
- Start by cycling a little on a daily basis
- Build a habit of cycling, it helps to train the mind and the body
- Follow a daily routine, establish accountability
- Track your progress daily
- Increase your training intensity gradually
- Focus on lower body workouts to increase strength, helps avoid leg-related injury
- Stay motivated
- Ride hills and follow these tips
It helps to have the proper gear before you start long-distance cycling. The right equipment can keep you comfortable, dry, and safe.
- Bike shorts – Probably the most important piece. They’re made specifically for cycling. Bike shorts are designed to fit tight (with hybrid material to enable airflow) and be comfortable (extra padding).
- Jersey – Can wick sweat, keeping you dry and sweat-free. The underarms and torso regions need to be kept dry and allow for air flow to avoid rashes and infections post triathlon. Pouches on the back allow you to store nutrition.
- Helmets – Safety is always a priority. Helmets are a must for training cyclists. It helps keep the cyclist safe in case of any emergency. Along with safety, helmets are also designed to allow airflow.
- Lights – Front and back lights are vital for riding during any time of the day. They help you maintain visibility at night. Lights also help drivers see you. Proper LED torch lights and rear red lights are a must for safety.
- Saddlebag with a flat kit – A saddlebag is a handy little addition. It provides extra space to carry food, water, maps, phones, and other such essentials. A flat kit is also handy in case you have a flat.
Buying the right bike and other tips to start cycling
- Choose the bike based on your height
- Take the bike for a test ride
- Research the type of bike you need and the brands available in the market
- Learn how to fix a flat
- Learn all the road rules and always follow them
- Always remember to hydrate and have nutrition with you
- Don’t go beyond your comfort zone too quickly
- Know when it’s time to get your bike a tune-up
Understand what clipless pedals are and how they can increase your speed
Here’s why you should trade in your rubber pedals for clipless pedals. First, you will be able to generate more powerful pedal strokes. More power and these tips can help you master the hills on your ride. Second, you will gain better control over your movements. Third, mounting and dismounting will become easier after you practice. Pro tip: if your bike hasn’t had a tune-up in the last 12 months schedule one today!
How do clipless pedals work?
Clipless pedals are made of cleats that you attach to the soles of your clipless cycling shoes. All you need to do is thrust your heels forward to start operating. The pedals never detach from the soles of your shoes, which works in increasing your power output.
LOOK Keo Classic 3
You can clip on and off with ease with these clipless pedals. The Classic 3’s spindles and axles go through a rotational test of 2 million cycles to get approval. So, you can rely on their durability. Plus, the spacious contact surface ensures stability while pedaling.
These lightweight pedals support effortless step-in and are ideal for road and mountain biking. The cartridge axle does not require a lot of maintenance and the pedals perform efficiently on muddy trails. Increase the release force of these without worrying about losing your grip.
These pedals are designed to increase power transfer thanks to the spacious carbon body. It offers optimum contact with your shoes. You can ace your cycling game even with high pedaling loads due to the wide surface. That, however, does not mean that this is a piece of heavyweight equipment. On the contrary, these are quite lightweight. The axle is made of stainless steel with a sealed cartridge unit. These are ideal if you are new to clipless pedals. For instance, you can lower the tension to match your level of comfort.
If you are a more experienced rider, upgrade to the Shimano Ultrega R8000 SPD-SL Carbon Road Pedals. You can even use these on road shoes and still remain well connected. Clipping and unclipping come easy. These are by far the most lightweight of pedals with a reduced tack weight; so that is an additional feature. They can sustain extreme biking ventures.
Now that you have an understanding of clipless pedals and various recommendations, it’s time to decide! First, make sure you’re ready to make the switch. If you’re just starting out, become more familiar with your bike and use these 7 tips to start your triathlon training.
Brick workouts build your endurance and prepare you for race day
Triathlon is an extensive physical competition that tests endurance in swimming, biking, and running. Including brick workouts in your training can help you significantly improve your endurance. Brick workout consist of consecutive sessions of two triathlon activities, usually biking and running, in any order. These workouts help you develop the ability to complete one physical activity after another. They can also help you prepare for swim-to-bike and bike-to-run transitions. Remember, ensure your helmet properly fits before every ride with these easy steps.
This is usually the first transition you make in a triathlon. When you pedal the bike after a period of swimming, the labor shifts from your arms to your legs, causing some discomfort. This discomfort is down to abruptly switching from a horizontal position while swimming to an upright position for cycling. So, for reducing the transition impact during the event, it is reasonable to do this brick. If your brick workouts include hills make sure you follow this expert advice for riding hills.
If you are preparing for a Sprint or Super Sprint event, you can try a 200-300 m swim followed by cycling for 10- to 25-minutes. For Olympic distance, a swim session between 300 and 600 m with a 20-40 minute cycling period is ideal.
This is probably the most common of brick workouts. It is also arguably the toughest. After biking, your legs feel heavy and difficult to move. However, after getting a few brick sessions under your belt, your leg muscles shall start recovering well from the wear and tear of biking, letting you run easier. Learn how taking an ice bath after your brick workouts can speed up the recovery process.
For short distances like Super Sprint and Sprint, a 30- to 20-minute cycling session, followed by a 15-minute run is a good place to start. Pro tip: you’ll be thirsty. Check out these different ways to carry hydration on your run.
You are not likely to face a run-to-bike transition in a triathlon. But this brick certainly helps you build endurance and stamina. This is especially useful for duathlons which include a run-to-bike transition followed by a final run.
A 10- to 20-minute run, in build-up to a 30- to 120-minute cycling session, is preferable for Olympic distance and less. In case you are training for anything beyond Olympic distance, a 20-minute run followed by cycling for 75 to 120 minutes is fairly competitive.
Learn about aero bars to see if they’re right for you
Aero bars are bike handlebar extensions with padded forearm rests that allow the rider to get into a more aerodynamic position. They are positioned near the center of the handlebar and the cantilever over the front wheel. On triathlon-specific bikes, the shifters are at the end of the aero bars since it is expected for the rider to spend most of their time in this position. Pro tip: when testing them out, make sure you follow these cycling tips if you’re riding hills.
What are “clip-on” aero bars?
They’re handlebar extensions that you can add on to a normal handlebar set. As the name suggests, you can clip it onto your handlebar to better your bike while racing or training. They’re positioned near the center of the handlebar and the cantilever over the front wheel. You can turn your road bike into a triathlon bike by adding aero bars. By clipping them on to your handlebar, you can increase your speed by 14% and reduce power output for the same speed by at least 12.5%.
Why you should add them to your road bike
In simple terms, aero bars help you achieve the aerodynamic position needed to gain speed. With these extensions adjusted to your standard road bike handlebar, you can get into an aerodynamic position. That represents the upper body hunched forward to be in alignment with the torso. You can also ride comfortably for longer periods of time because they have armrests and handgrips. Standard clip-on aero bars have a wide range of adjustments. Therefore, you can tune the height and the length of the aero bars as needed and get yourself into the most effective position.
Some aero bars you can try out
There are various types. Check with a bike shop to find out which style suits you best. Review the ones we have handpicked to get an idea of what to expect. Pro tip: if you add them to your bike you should give your ride a good cleaning before.
T3+ Carbon Aero Bar
Designed ergonomically, these aero bars can add extra comfort to your riding experience. You can effectively adjust and angle the bars to any position according to your convenience. They come with forearm cups and a double-bend built so that your forearms and wrists don’t tire out easily. More importantly, they are easy to install and increase your speed dramatically.
Airstryke V2 Aluminum Clip-on Aerobars
The patented Flip-Up brackets on this set keeps your arms elevated while you are resting on them, thus preventing your hands from getting numb. They come with a spring on the releasing pads, which makes them ideal for steep rides. The aero bars are easy to install. However, to make sure they adjust to your handlebar, compare the reach, width, and diameter with your current road bike first. You can also buy these in combination with a second saddle or a seat post.
Legacy II Clip-On Bar Aluminium Black 2018
These may be cheaper in comparison to the above two options but are as good. They come with an ergonomic design, multiple hand positions, and an adjustable armrest. These sturdy aero bars provide rotational adjustment. After a few adjustments here and there, you will be all set to improve your riding experience significantly.
Indicators you need to tune up your bike and our recommendations
It’s important to know when it’s time to tune up your bike. Take care of your bike so you can enjoy as many miles as possible! How often you need a tune-up for your bike can differ depending on several conditions. They include how often you ride, how you store your bike, and how often you perform your own maintenance checks. Most riders will get a tune-up once or twice a year and schedule them two to four weeks before an event. Pro tip: follow the cycling rules of the road after you tune up your bike and get back to riding.
- Bike is squeaking
- Brakes are loose feeling
- It is crunchy when you pedal
- Shifting is off
- Your bike is dirty and there is build on the chain
- You have not had a tune-up in the last year
Things that are checked during a tune-up
- Wash & Degrease Drivetrain
- Adjust Gears
- Adjust Brakes
- True Wheels
- Hardware Safety Check
- Bearing Adjustments
- Chain re-lube
Different shops may have different levels of tunes ups. Make sure you check out all the details. If possible, see if you can drop off your bike beforehand. This way you can get a recommendation on what level of tune-up your bike needs. If your bike is in real bad shape you might need a full overhaul. This includes taking all the components off and rebuilding the bike. Pro tip: if it’s a simple derailleur issue, follow these simple steps to fix it yourself!
Why getting a tune-up is important
A tune-up is like cleaning the sheets on your bed, it feels so amazing after! If a bike is not taken care of it can cause damage to its components. In extreme cases, it could lead to costly repair and the frame beyond repair. Make sure your bike is ready to begin logging miles, especially if you’re following these 7 tips to begin triathlon training!
Bike tune-up recommendations
James Balentine is our go-to man at Velofix, a mobile bike repair service. His service experience is built around a lifetime passion for all things cycling. He’s been a pro racer, a pro mechanic, and pro-level bike geek. Through it all, he brings a high level of professionalism and attention to detail. Now a world-class bike mechanic comes to your door so you can focus on what you love most – more saddle time.
Hill Country Bicycle Works
Hill Country Bicycle Works has been serving the Texas Hill Country in 2 locations since 1995. The owners, Adam and Lisa, rode their bicycles around the world for 3 years (30,000 miles, 17 countries on 4 continents from 1992- 1995). They found the beauty of the Hill Country a perfect place to open a bike shop! With more than 70 years of bike shop experience between them, they have a wealth of knowledge about all aspects of bicycle riding, touring, advocacy, trail building, event promotion, racing, and bicycle repair.
Jack & Adam’s Fredericksburg
Josh Allen started this Hill Country location of the famous Jack & Adam’s Bicycles in 2014. They specialize in carrying triathlon gear and have a full-service department to meet your needs. As a true cyclist destination, he even has a guest house where you can stay right behind the shop in downtown Fredericksburg.
On your next ride, check for indicators that it’s time to tune up your bike. Whether you’re on the go or visiting the Texas Hill Country, our recommendations will make sure you and your bike are good to go. Remember, take care of your ride and it’ll take of you, whether you’re on a hilly training ride or it’s race day.
Build Zwift into your training program with our helpful guide
If you want to improve your cycling skills from the comfort of your home, then Zwift can take you on that journey. The cycling and training app gamifies elements to create an immersive and engaging virtual cycling experience. This is a great way for triathletes who just started training to improve their cycling.
What is it?
Once you’ve set up your account, you can cycle at home while enjoying virtual sceneries of your choice. There are also structured workouts prepared by professional bike coaches that help you maximize your cycling potential from home. Riders of all levels should read these cycling tips before any hilly workouts!
To use Zwift, you will need to make an account. It can be used on PC, MAC, Android, iPhones, and even Apple TV. Zwift is not free to use. You will get a 7-day free trial, but after that, it’ll cost $14.99 a month to use. You can opt to cancel your subscription at any time.
How do you set up Zwift?
To use Zwift, you will first need to arrange your basic gear. These include:
- Bike: Most people use whatever bike is available to them. However, to be compatible with Zwift, you should be able to mount your bike on a trainer.
- ANT+USB: Zwift needs a way to have access to your exercise data. This is achieved by using an ANT+USB cable to link to your PC or TV. If you’re using your phone, then you can utilize the Bluetooth feature. By combining your Bluetooth with a speed or cadence detector, Zwift will have access to your data.
- Trainer: Without a trainer, you can’t use Zwift. As long as you can properly mount your bike, you can use any trainer you like. Smart trainers are better, especially as they give you an advantage if you want to take part in the competitive events on Zwift.
Once you’ve set up your bike on your trainer, and connected your smart device to Zwift, you can start using the feature. Learn about the importance of setting goals and set one or two once you get set up.
What are the benefits of using Zwift?
Zwift gives you the opportunity to make the most of the time you spend at home. Without having to go outside, you can get the same physical exercise, and make friends with other users as well.
- Improve your cycling skills with structured workouts from professional coaches.
- Great for beginners as well as cycling enthusiasts.
- Various courses are available. You can cycle across mountains, over hills, and even visit exotic virtual locations.
- Make friends with other users and go on cycling adventures together.
- Participate in competitive races.
- Have fun, and level up your cycling game in a constructive way.
What should you do once you’ve set up an account?
Once you’ve registered an account with Zwift, you can explore the app any way you like. One thing you can do early on is check for the upcoming rides. This gives you an idea of the different groups that will be cycling together. You can find this information by looking for upcoming rides on the top right-hand corner of your screen.
Once you’ve selected a group, simply ‘join’ to become a member of the riding group for the duration of the ride. You can also take part in racing across four different levels. Alternatively, you can also select a coach and learn lessons from them. Zwift has over 1000 hours of workout lessons for cycling. If you want to learn about cycling, or you want to improve your cycling skills, Zwift will help you achieve that in a gamified and entertaining way!
Derailleur Adjustment Tips to Stop Shifting Issues
Experiencing issues shifting when hitting the road to log some miles on your bike? You most likely need to make some adjustments to your derailleur. Shifting problems are a common occurrence for cyclists and triathletes. So we’re going to give you some expert tips to fix your shifting problems yourself. Get ready to expand your bike mechanic skills and learn these quick, easy steps to adjust your derailleur and put a stop to your shifting issues! Take it a step further to expand your mechanic skills and start by understanding the basics of brakes issues and learn how to change a flat tire on the fly.
What’s a Derailleur?
A derailleur is the device on your bike that changes gears by moving the chain from one sprocket to another. There are several different styles and sizes when it comes to derailleurs. But when it comes to fixing shifting issues, the steps you should follow are often the same.
Derailleur Basics for Shifting Issues
Derailleur mechanics provide a simple way for you to dial in shifting in the middle of a ride. Although it’s easiest to make and check adjustments when the bicycle is supported in a repair stand, you can adjust your derailleur without any tools at all.
If you suspect your derailleur may be damaged or bent, unfortunately, you won’t be able to fix this one yourself. You’ll need to take your bike to your favorite local bike shop to have a mechanic help you out. These tips are for derailleurs that just need slight adjustments such as difficulty shifting, eliminate rub, and unwanted noise while riding.
Identify the Problem
To adjust the derailleur, look at the point where the cable enters the rear derailleur. Here you’ll see a round, knob-like piece; that’s the cable adjustment barrel. This is used to tune the derailleur adjustment.
Standing behind the bike, turn the cable adjustment barrel either counterclockwise or clockwise in half-turn increments until the shifting hesitation is cured. The direction in which you turn your derailleur depends on what type of hesitation you’re experiencing.
The most common problem is slow-shifting into easier gears (toward the spokes) are due to the stretching of the cable. But, it’s also possible that you’re experiencing difficulty with shifting into a higher gear, which means the cog isn’t allowing the chain to shift outward smoothly to the next gear.
So, which way do you turn it? Determine this to continue to your next steps to adjust your derailleur.
- Experiencing slow shifting – turn the barrel adjuster counter-clockwise toward the spokes. This will tighten the space between the cogs or shifting increments.
- Difficulty shifting into a higher gear – turn the barrel adjuster clockwise, away from the spokes to loosen the space between the cogs to allow for easier shifting.
Time to Adjust Your Derailleur
Commit this to memory to help you remember which way to turn the barrel adjuster the next time you experience shifting issues.
- If the derailleur is hesitating when shifting toward the spokes (the more common problem), turn the barrel toward the spokes (counter-clockwise).
- If it hesitates to shift away from the spokes, turn the adjuster away (clockwise) from the spokes.
- Turn it only a half turn, shift multiple times to check the adjustment, and repeat as needed to eliminate all hesitation.
Pro tip: Be aware that there is a range of acceptable adjustments, so there may be more than one barrel adjuster position that results in good shifting performance.
No More Shifting Issues!
Now you have the right tips to adjust your derailleur back into place for a smooth ride with easy, noise-free shifting. Which is especially important if you’re getting out for a hilly bike ride! If you were experiencing trouble with your shifting, remember these tips to adjust your derailleur before your next ride. If you have a friend who is constantly dealing with shifting problems, help them out, and share this with them! Now you have a mechanic you trust and know will keep you in good hands, your own!
Tips for a Hilly Bike Ride
Learning tips for riding the hills better is particularly important for triathletes since they need to be as efficient as possible in the bike portion of the race, in order to save energy for the running portion. In this blog, we will give you a couple of tips for a hilly bike ride to get through safely and efficiently during training and on race day.
Equipment for a Riding the Hills
The bike itself is not the main concern here unless the bike course of your race is extremely hilly. In this case, a road bike would be more helpful than a triathlon bike. However, when talking about hills, your cassette and wheels are more important. Generally speaking, a cassette that has more teeth on the largest sprocket, will allow you to spin easier. Additionally, the type of wheels on your bike can be another element that can be helpful. It is better and to have wheels that are lighter and even if they are not the most aerodynamic ones.
Maintain Your Energy
Regardless of how long or steep a hill is, the key to conquer it is maintaining a steady amount of energy. Hammering parts of a hill, and then slowing down significantly, will only result in you spending a lot more energy. Instead of focusing on speed, you should try to maintain the same heart rate (or power, if you train with that) throughout your climb.
Watch Your Pedal Stroke
A simple way to be more efficient while riding the hills is by adjusting your revolutions per minute (rpm). A higher rpm, somewhere between 90 and 100, will help you save more energy. This might seem counterintuitive because you seem to be pedaling more, however, you are not wasting as much energy as you would with a slower and harder pedal stroke.
Focus on Your Form
You should also consider your position on the saddle. Seating further back, rather than forwards, can help you get more power from muscles like your glutes or hamstrings. Additionally, a more upright position can help you expand your lungs, making it easier to breathe. Something else to look out for is your heels. Make sure you are are not pedaling with your toes. Keep your foot flatter and drop your heel even more if you next extra push to get to the top of the hill.
Practice makes perfect, and that is also the case for riding hills. The more you practice these tips for riding the hills during your training, the easier they will be on race day.
It can be helpful for you to incorporate hill-specific intervals into your training plan. Ideally, you should be doing high repetitions for intervals no longer than 2 minutes, rather than fewer repetitions for longer periods of time. Doing this can be beneficial if you’re trying to improve your climbing endurance. Additionally, if you are used to using a trainer, it is a good idea to add some single-leg pedaling drills to gain strength, fix imbalances, and improve your pedal stroke.
You’re Ready to Ride The Hills!
These tips are simple enough, but make a world of difference when hitting the hills for a bike ride. Keep these tips in mind before you get out for your next ride:
- check your cassette
- maintain your energy
- adjust your bike pedal stroke
- be aware of your form
- practice regularly
With the help of these tips, you’ll be ready to conquer the hills on any ride!
Triathlon Father’s Day Gift Ideas
Give the Tri Dad in your life the perfect gift this Father’s day! From sleek, anti-fog goggles he can rock at Rookie Tri, to the tri tank he’s been talking about for years, our Father’s Day gift guide has it all. One-stop-shop: click these items to order them straight from our blog to your door.
For the dad that can’t seem to stay away from the water. He’ll love taking these gifts with him next time he goes for a swim!
You know how much he loves getting out for a training ride. Upgrade his ride for even more fun during his training with these sweet additions for his bike! If you know he could use some help fine-tuning his bike, a gift card to the Velofix bike shop would be an awesome choice! Set up an appointment, and their team of specialists will come directly to you to complete a full bike tune-up.
Looks like someone’s training runs are about to get a lot more fun! He’ll love going to log some miles with these additions.
Take Your Pick!
This new gear will show dad you acknowledge all the hard work he does and hopefully gets him excited to get back in the tri game. Go the extra mile and offer to join dad for a training session for a Father’s Day experience he’ll never forget. If you have a friend who could use some help coming up with gift ideas, share this Father’s Day gift guide with them! We’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.