Most people love the bike, right? The bike leg treats you with your fastest leg on race day, and who doesn’t love that sensation of moving rapidly through the world? The bike is, in some ways, the simplest path to becoming a faster triathlete. By putting in more time on the bike, in a wide range of intensities, you’ll get faster simply through putting in the work. But what is that work? Again, just like the swim, there are many ways to bake the biking cake, and CBCG coaches don’t rely upon any one methodology were cycling is concerned, but we share some common beliefs. Those are:
- Endurance is important. Spending time on your bike makes it possible for you to complete the distance of your chosen race, but these “lower” intensities are also very important in achieving changes at the cellular level that allow you to stomach those higher intensities you’ll experience on race day.
- Higher thresholds are good. Threshold power or “FTP” is a much-used term that corresponds to an athlete’s ability to hold a certain level of power for 40-60 minutes. Since you’ll be racing at 70-80% of that number for Ironman, 75-90% of that number for 70.3, and 95-105% of that number for Olympic and sprint-distance racing, respectively, pushing that number as high as possible is important. We get there through a variety of methods, such as:
- Low RPM intervals to make you stronger
- Sport-specific intensities to improve your race day endurance
- Above-race intensities to “pull” your threshold power up, making you faster on the bike.
- Changing pace is important. A triathlon, as much as people would like it to be, is still a race. You need to be able to deal with changing conditions and dynamics on the race course.
- Pacing is key. Even though you need to be flexible in your approach, you have to have a plan on the bike. We see many, many athletes that ride far too hard early in the race and suffer through the run. Your coach will develop a plan to save you from yourself on this front.