#TheWerk - Triathlon Cycling - Invest Into Your Bike Handling Skills

#TheWerk - Triathlon Cycling - Invest Into Your Bike Handling Skills

Today's #TheWerk post is brought to you by Marni Sumbal (@trimarni). Marni is a Board Certified Sport Dietitian holding a Master of Science in exercise physiology. She is the owner of Trimarni coaching and nutrition, the author of 3 books, and a 19x IRONMAN finisher (six times at the IRONMAN World Championship). Marni lives in Greenville, SC with her husband Karel, 4 cats and 16-year old dog Campy. 


Sandwiched between the swim and run, the bike portion of the triathlon is the longest discipline in both time and distance. With nearly 50% of your race time spent on two wheels, insufficient bike handling skills and poor terrain management will cost you valuable time and energy on race day.  

When it comes to cycling, most triathletes spend a considerable amount of time cycling indoors. This makes sense as there are no hazards, stoplights, distracted drivers or bad weather conditions. Indoor riding provides a safe, comfortable and familiar riding experience every time you get on the bike.

However, the convenience of the indoor bike trainer has created a false sense of confidence with regard to bike handling skills - especially among triathletes who ride triathlon (or TT) bikes. It's easy to build fitness indoors but it's impossible to improve bike handling and terrain management skills. The moment you begin to climb a steep hill, descend or take a tight corner (or u-turn), your FTP (or power) number is of little benefit.

Thankfully, unlike mountain biking or gravel riding, the skills needed to ride safely, confidently and efficiently in a triathlon are somewhat easy to learn. A skilled cyclist on a mediocre bike will likely outperform an unskilled cyclist on an expensive, top-of-the-line bike. The same is true for a skilled cyclist who may not be as strong as an unskilled cyclist. Just because you can push a lot of watts on the indoor trainer or you have an expensive bike, this doesn't mean you’ll be able to translate that speed when riding your bike outside. 

As a coach and athlete, I know there are far too many athletes who experience great anxiety, stress, worry and fear when it comes to riding outside. I also see a lot of athletes perform below their athletic potential because they lack basic, fundamental bike handling skills and terrain management awareness. 

It doesn't matter if you are training for a pancake flat bike course or a hilly, technical and challenging course. If you want to ride stronger, faster, smarter and safer, you owe it to yourself to work on your bike handling skills. To truly showcase your cycling fitness, proper bike handling skills is critical for safety, confidence, and efficiency. Knowing how to corner, brake, descend, stand, climb, and change your gears will take your bike fitness to an entirely new level.

If you resonate with this article and would like to work on your bike handling skills, check out trimarnicoach.com for more information.


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