January 24, 2018

Triathlon Training And Racing in The Wind – The Bike

cycling in the windThere is nothing more frustrating to me than riding my bike in the wind. At least you can see the hills so you know it’s going to be tough, but you can’t see the wind.

You never know what you’re going to get when you go out for your Saturday ride or your Sunday race. The weather could be quite pleasant or you could face gale force winds. As a result, you need to understand how to train and race on your bike in the wind.

At the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii on the Big Island I felt the full effect of the Goddess Pele’s winds. At times it seemed like you’d actually go backward if you stopped pedaling. And when you rode through a canyon the winds would “funnel” and nearly sweep you off your bike.

The funny thing is that when you compare the bike times of the pros from one year to the next on the same course, they’re not much different, even though the winds may be strong one year and non-existent the next. Why is that?

Here are some thoughts:

1. The pros just accept the conditions. I remember Macca (Chris McCormack) saying prior to one Ironman that he hoped the conditions would be brutal. Bring on the tough stuff because everyone’s got to suffer through it.
2. The pros are ready for it. They train in all kinds of conditions. Lance Armstrong used to say that a lot of pros didn’t go out and train when it got cold or rainy. His philosophy was just “put on a jacket and do it!” Don’t blow off a workout if the conditions aren’t just right, especially if it’s windy. Here in SoCal the surfers can’t wait until the waves are up. Perhaps you should do the same when the winds come up.
3. The pros are simply more efficient than us. When us mortals get tired on the bike we tend to get up out of the aero bars. Big mistake! When it’s windy you want to be in the aero bars as much as possible to CONSERVE energy. When it’s not windy I tend to stay in my aero bars whenever I’m going 12 MPH or more. When it’s windy I have to adjust that down to 8 or 10 MPH.
4. The pros work on their form. Just like swimming, you need to work on your bike form. This naturally includes a proper bike fit but also means your seat shouldn’t be any higher than it should be and your arms and legs should be tucked in as much as possible.
5. The pros keep their body quiet. I’ve talked about this a number of times but it can’t be overstated. Your body should be as still as possible without a lot of side-to-side action or front to back rocking. This just burns more energy and doesn’t’ make you any faster.

When it’s windy just keep your wits and employ these tips and you’ll feel a whole lot better about your performance.

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