THE RIDE

“VARY­ING MY PEDAL CADENCE AND AD­JUST­ING MY EF­FORT HELPED ME WIN MY AGE GROUP.”

Men's Health (South Africa) - - TRIATHLON: - James Cun­nama

THE BIK­ING LEG IS THE tri’s long­est slog, and also the part that’s most de­pen­dent on good gear and com­fort­able kit. Nail it, and you can off­set a flail­ing swim and set your­self up for a PB run. Ac­cord­ing to Cun­nama, while the best bike (and ac­ces­sories) you can af­ford are im­por­tant, spend­ing money on a good coach will net you even greater re­turns. “Whether you’re a be­gin­ner or an ex­pert, it’s the best in­vest­ment you can make for faster times.”

While most coaches will help you hone form and pre­scribe pre­cise bik­ing work­outs, many might also sug­gest adding weekly spin classes, es­pe­cially if you’re working a full­time job. A spin in­struc­tor will typ­i­cally push you harder than you’re able to by your­self on the road.

For an Olympic-dis­tance tri, new triath­letes should do longer week­end rides (two or more hours) at mod­er­ate ef­fort to build en­durance and ac­cli­ma­tise to rid­ing on the road. Pair up with other riders, as this will prep you for the dy­nam­ics of rid­ing with peo­ple around you – a vi­tal skill on race day.

Just re­mem­ber, cycling long dis­tance is al­ways go­ing to hurt. “And it doesn’t hurt less for the pros,” adds Cun­nama. “You just go faster. Take it from some­one who’s gone 7h51 for an Iron­man: no mat­ter how fit and strong you are on the start line, a triathlon is tough and will hurt at some point, if not the whole way.”

If you prep your mind to ex­pect pain, you won’t fall into the trap of think­ing you’re hav­ing a bad day. “PBs hurt just as much while you’re racing; they just hurt less af­ter­wards.”

1. SEATPOST

When you’re sit­ting on the sad­dle with your feet on the pedals, your knees should bend slightly. Sit­ting too high makes you in­ef­fi­cient; sit­ting too low un­der­mines your power and can even­tu­ally lead to knee pain.

2. SEAT

Try as many sad­dles as you can to find one that’s com­fort­able; a lot of men pre­fer a split-nose de­sign, for anatom­i­cal rea­sons. Re­mem­ber, the cush­ion­ing comes from your bike shorts, not from the seat.

3. AEROBARS

Make sure they’re not too nar­row; that cre­ates ten­sion in your neck and up­per back and can make you hold your head too high, killing ef­fi­ciency. The bars’ pads should be set so your up­per arm is about per­pen­dic­u­lar to your torso when your back is straight.

4. HAN­DLE­BAR

Your han­dle­bar or aerobars should not be so low that you don’t have full range of mo­tion in your hips at the top of the stroke, which will kill power and ef­fi­ciency.

BONUS BUY AN IN­DOOR TRAINER

About six weeks into your train­ing pro­gram, con­sider pick­ing up a sta­tion­ary trainer for your home. It’ll al­low you to use your own bike, and you’ll be able to do spe­cific work­outs, such as timed in­ter­vals, without hav­ing to worry about mo­men­tum killers like traf­fic lights, crazy driv­ers, and bad weather. Try the Tacx T2600 Blue Mo­tion Trainer, for a ba­sic no-non­sense set-up. R4000, cw­cy­cles. co.za

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