Biking is the second event in triathlon, and typically the longest, which is why it's important to put your miles in during training. It’s not about how much money you spend on the bike, it’s about how much time you spend on the bike. As a new triathlete, your focus should be on mastering the machine. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting out on a beach cruiser or tri bike. The important thing is putting in the time on two wheels to train your body.
WHERE TO BIKE
There are many choices for getting comfortable and building your fitness on a bike. First up are choices for cycling indoors, which may be the easiest and most efficient for most of us because it resolves many of the obstacles we all have to overcome, such as our availability for riding during daylight hours, safe places to ride and weather factors.
Any time spent on a bike spinning your legs will help you become a better and more comfortable cyclist. If you belong to a gym there are usually several different types of stationary bikes available.
Spin bikes are usually very similar mechanically to an outdoor or “road” bike and will mimic the experience of real outdoor cycling.
Stationary trainers attach to your own bike and can be used at home or for a class. They include wind trainers, computerized trainers and rollers. Any of these trainers make it possible to ride your own bike inside and keeps the bike “stationary.”
If you are just getting started in triathlon there is no need to invest any money in a fancy bike. Here are some of the different types of bikes and what distance of an event they would be comfortable and appropriate to be used at.
TYPES OF BIKES
Cruiser Bike: This would be comfortable and appropriate for sprint distance triathlons.
Mountain Bike: This would also be comfortable and appropriate for sprint distance triathlons.
Hybrid Bike: This would be comfortable and appropriate for sprint or olympic distance triathlons.
Road Bike: A road bike is appropriate for all distance triathlons.
Triathlon or Time Trial Bike: This would also be appropriate for all distance triathlons
Fixed Gear Bike: Also sometimes called a “fixie”. This is appropriate for all distance triathlons.
The most important cycling equipment is a proper fitting helmet meant to be worn on a road bicycle. A helmet is mandatory in all races and in many states. They are designed to protect your head on impact if you fall while riding. Bike helmets are light in weight and most are well-ventilated. There are two basic types of bike helmets.
A road helmet is meant for bicycling on roads and racing. These types of helmets have vents, and are usually made with EPS foam covered by a thin plastic shell.
An aero helmet is meant to be more “aerodynamic” and at certain speeds can help a person ride faster. It is usually made more aerodynamic by the shape of the helmet and also by covering the vents, which can make it hotter.
How to Properly Wear a Bike Helmet
The side straps of your helmet are adjustable and should be worn below the earlobe. When clasped under your chin, there should be no slack in the straps. If there is slack in the strap, the helmet will slide back exposing your forehead. There may be a small button on the back of your helmet. You may turn this to tighten or loosen the cage inside the helmet. Keeping the helmet cage and chin strap snug and not too tight will leave you comfortable and safe.
For your first triathlon, you can ride you bike in a triathlon wearing your running shoes. You do not need to have clip in pedals or shoes. Clip in pedals allow you to wear special bike shoes that attach or “clip in” to your pedal. Riding with clip in pedals and shoes takes practice so you want to make sure you feel completely comfortable on your bike before you try them out.
A cycling kit will comprise of two pieces, a cycling jersey (or top) and cycling shorts. Cycling Jerseys usually have ¾ sleeves and pockets on the back to hold your nutrition, phone, keys and tools if you have them. Cycling shorts have a magical thing inside called a chamois (pronounced shammie). The chamois in cycling short is made of foam and is a medium thickness. This will add additional comfort to your bike saddle. Cycling clothes make the most difference in your comfort level when riding longer distances during your training.
A triathlon kit comprises of two pieces, a tri top and tri shorts. The tri top is usually sleeveless and has pockets in the back. The tri shorts are similar to cycling shorts however the chamois is very thin and almost nonexistent. You will be perfectly comfortable swimming in a tri kit in your triathlon. Some tri kits also come as a one piece and are referred to as “race suits.”
Nutrition on the bike should not be forgotten. For a sprint triathlon you may not need much nutrition. An energy gel and a water bottle with electrolytes is recommended. For Olympic triathlons and longer distances, you should practice nutrition and hydration “fueling” on your training rides. Nutrition on the bike is a personal preference and an experiment but you can always consult a coach or the event website for questions regarding what nutrition and hydration will be provided on course.