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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!

Helpful tips

  • 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

Cycling gear

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.

Recommendations

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.

Shimano PD-M520L

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.

Shimano PD-R7000

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.

Shimano Ultegra

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.

Swim-to-bike

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. 

Bike-to-run

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.

Run-to-bike

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.

Signs it’s time to tune-up your bike

  • 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

Velofix

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.

It’s critical to carry hydration with you during your training runs 

During training, you don’t have the luxury of aid stations like you do on race day. As if you needed another reason to love race day, hydration on course has always been a fan favorite. However, during training runs it is critical to stay properly hydrated. Make sure you carry hydration with you on your runs. If you’ve just started training make sure you follow these 7 tips to keep your training running smoothly. Try one of the options below to carry hydration on your next run. There are links below where you can order these items or you can visit our friends at Fleet Feet Austin!

Handheld Bottle 

Using a handheld bottle on the run is an easy start to carrying hydration with you on your run. There are options to have a hard bottle or soft flask handheld. The harder bottle retains its shape and usually has more insulation. The soft flask is lighter and has the option to fit in a pocket when empty. The main con to a handheld is that one of your hands will be occupied by physically holding onto the bottle as you run. 

Pro tip: It is a good idea to switch up which hand is holding the bottle during your run. 

Water Vest or Backpack 

Needing to carry more water than what can fit in a handheld, or would like your hands to be free? A water vest or backpack is a great option. The weight of the water vest/ pack is distributed more evenly through the torso, which allows for a more symmetrical weight distribution while running. These options also have extra storage to include nutrition or your phone during your run. 

When deciding between a vest or a backpack think of how you want it to fit and where you want your water storage at. 

  • Vest
    • A hugging fit. It keeps things close to your body for a tighter fit that reduces bounce. 
    • Bottles in the front pockets and option for hydration bladder in the back.
  • Backpack
    • Fit is more relaxed. 
    • Bigger hydration bladder capacity. Some have options for a bottle in the front

Pro tip:  Always be conscious of how a vest/pack rubs on the inside of your arms and neck/shoulder areas.  Any bit of uncomfortable chafing will be multiplied by sweat and miles, so choose wisely. Try Body Glide anti-chafing cream!

Water Bottle Waist Belt 

If you want your hands free and don’t like the idea of carrying more weight through your torso a waist belt is worth a try. We like SPIbelt’s Venture Series because it also holds important items like nutrition, keys, phone, etc. It will stay evenly distributed in the middle of your lower back. This option also includes extra storage options for personal items and allows you to access all pockets and storage areas without having to remove the belt.  

Everyone’s preference is personal to what feels best for them to carry hydration. Test out what works best for you. Pro tip: Stay hydrated and have some fun!

For 16 years, thousands have chosen Rookie Tri as their first triathlon

Registration for the 17th annual Rookie Triathlon opens this Sunday, September 27th. The 2021 Rookie Triathlon will take place on Sunday, May 2nd, at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park in northeast Austin. Every year, more than 1000 participants complete the first triathlon of their life or the first triathlon of their season. 2021 Rookie Triathlon’s $79 best pricing is available until Tuesday, October 20th.

2021 Rookie Triathlon opens registration on Sept. 27, 2020.“It’s thrilling to have watched thousands of people become triathletes when they cross their first triathlon finish line at Rookie Tri,” said Stacy Keese, co-owner of High Five Events. 

The Rookie Tri has three different divisions: Rookie (first or second triathlon ever), Veteran (completed more than two triathlons), and Open. The Open Division allows participants to begin regardless of age, with a mass swim start. Open Division participants are not eligible for age-group awards. Rookies and Veterans start the swim in their division based on their age group, with two participants entering the water every few seconds. Veterans start first so Rookies can watch and cheer. Age-group awards are given to both Veteran and Rookie Division in five-year increments. Rookie Tri also features Athena and Clydesdale categories. Rookie Tri has aquabike and relay options for race day. The relay team can consist of two or three members and the aquabike completes the swim and the bike only.

Rookie Tri perks

Participants will receive custom 2021 Rookie Triathlon participant shirts, finisher medals, water bottles, and swim caps. After the race, everyone can enjoy the beer garden (21+), a post-race meal, and the signature swag toss. Professional timing and photography, as well as a great volunteer crew and hundreds of supportive spectators, will make this triathlon memorable for rookies and veterans alike. 

Rookie Tri, an award-winning triathlon, consists of a 300m swim in Decker Lake, an 11.2-mile bike ride in a protected lane around the lake, and a two-mile run through Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park. Triathletes who can’t make it to the event can still participate through the virtual Rookie Tri. Participants can complete the Rookie Tri on their own time at their preferred locations. Follow Rookie Triathlon on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Meet Laura! She was once a Rookie and this is her story

Laura is the Volunteer Manager at High Five Events, but before she was part of the crew, you would have seen her at our races, either cheering or actually racing. Here is the story of Laura’s first triathlon.

How I Started in Triathlon

I started training for triathlons in the fall of 2013 when I moved in with my brother Pablo, who was a pretty serious age group triathlete at that time. Ever since I was little, I always wanted to do what my brother did, so naturally, I started doing triathlons. Shortly after I joined the triathlon team, Austin T3,  where Pablo had been training for a couple of years. 

I got my first road bike. It was a Felt that was a “petite” size because even the smallest frame was just a little bit too big for me. That’s when I started to train more seriously. I would swim, bike or run almost every day. While my fitness level was more than ready for the Rookie Tri, I was very nervous about competing.  

Laura Riding the bike course around Walter E. Long Park training for her first triathlon

Riding the bike course around Walter E. Long Park

About a couple of months before the 2014 Rookie Tri, I went to Decker Lake and rode the course multiple times. Even though those hills wouldn’t get any easier, I got more comfortable with shifting my gears and riding in general. I would also practice my transitions over and over again.  This helped me get used to running without socks. I also remember practicing getting in and out of my wetsuit by wearing it in the shower. Long story short, I was very scared of not being prepared, which resulted in me becoming a total dork. 

Getting Ready to Tri

Race weekend came, and I remember being super excited, but also very nervous. I went to Jack and Adam’s to pick up my packet the day before, and then I went home to get everything ready. The first thing I did, was put the stickers on my helmet and bike, and my bib number on a race belt.  I also tried on my timing chip, which at that time was on a velcro strap. It happened to be too big for me. Because it was so loose, I could lose it in the water so I had to put safety pins on it to secure it.

Laura’s First Triathlon – Race Day

Swim

On race day, I got to Decker Lake early in the morning. I had plenty of time to set up my transition area and warm-up. I didn’t get in the water, but I had some elastic bands that I used to warm-up. The swim was the part I was most excited about. By that time I had participated in open water swim events, so I felt confident. 

The horn went off and we all started. In 2014 the Rookie Tri didn’t have a time trial start yet, so we all started together in the water. I was feeling pretty good throughout the swim until my watch started to get loose. The watch as a birthday gift, so I really didn’t want to lose it! I stopped for a couple of seconds to take my watch off and put it in my sports bra to be able to keep swimming. I finished the swim, ran up the hill, found my bike and off I went.

Bike and Run Laura standing on the Rookie Tri podium at her first triathlon

My heart was beating SO fast, and I could feel the adrenaline rushing through my body as I got on my bike. As much as I want to believe that I am not a competitive person, you put a timing chip on me and the switch flips. I finished the bike faster than I expected, and now I just had the run left. I racked my bike, put my running shoes on and it was go time.

With the run being so short, I knew I could run faster. However, I didn’t take into account that the run was ALL ON GRASS! While that was a little bit of an adjustment for me, I was still able to finish the race and it was so exciting to get across the finish line. I ended up finishing third in my age group.

The coolest thing about the Rookie Tri is that it has separate awards for rookies and veterans, so if you’re a rookie, you’re only competing against beginners. Therefore, I was able to get on the podium and receive a trophy!  

Take a break and meet these adorable dogs of triathlon

Over the years, human spectators have brought their 4-legged counterparts to cheer on triathletes. These good boys and good girls bring a smile to everyone’s face, including their favorite triathlete! They’re also game for a good scratch from staff and others. Our triathlons are dog-friendly and we’ve met countless adorable pups over the years. We even asked y’all to share images of your spectating dogs at our events. Meet some of the most adorable dogs of triathlon that you’ll ever see!

Adorable Dogs at Rookie Tri

Want to bring your furry friend to the next triathlon? Review our dog-friendly triathlon tips below. We’d love to meet your pup and add them to our list!

Dog-Friendly Triathlon Tips

  • Bring snacks and water – Spectating is hard work, just like completing a triathlon. Bring hydration (and a bowl) and nutrition so your dog can refuel during the event.
  • Keep your dog on a leash – As much as we’d love to see pups roaming freely at our events, participant safety is vital. Keep your dog on a leash so participants aren’t tripped up and Fido doesn’t try to complete the swim portion of the triathlon!
  • Pick up after your dog – No explanation needed. Help us keep the race site in better condition than when we found it. Bring extra bags. You never know if you’ll run out or someone else runs out.
  • Follow park and/or city rules and regulations – If there are additional rules, follow them. We want to keep seeing more dogs of triathlon at our events, so follow any additional rules and regulations.

If you have a photo of your furry friend cheering you on at Rookie Tri, share them with us on Facebook or Twitter!