Top 16 Triathlon Bike Mistakes

Triathlon involves a large number of components, with good and bad outcomes. This activity is much more intricate than an average running narrative, and the complication level intensifies immensely when the three elements of swimming, cycling, and running are compressed into a single day.

Triathletes who are participating in their first race might be overwhelmed as there appear to be obstacles at every turn; however, when you avoid certain common errors, you are certain to enjoy it much more. With that in mind, here are the common first-time triathlete mistakes and how you can easily avoid them on race day:

1. Poor pacing

By all accounts, the biggest misstep made by professional triathletes and beginners alike is overestimating the bike and consequently causing their run to suffer. The thrill of race day mixed with fresh, shaven legs can be incredibly appealing, however, for long distances, this can lead to catastrophe.

Check your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR) every 8 to 12 weeks. Use these results to determine appropriate zones for training and racing, and make sure to stick to them exactly.

If you are using a power meter, it is inexcusable to make a mistake in your pacing, however, it is quite surprising how many athletes still believe that they will benefit from pushing beyond the data they see and count on a surprise surge of energy at the competition.

No matter the course of action you take, the consequences of not performing to the necessary standards will always come to haunt you.

The biking portion of a triathlon is your chance to replenish your energy; don’t waste it. Train yourself to understand the level of intensity you can handle with meals, the amount you need, how often you must eat, and what kind of food you can consume.

Once you discover the method that works well for you, keep using it. If you are susceptible to cramps, you are likely working out too intensely. Recent research indicates that cramp is mainly caused by muscle exhaustion, not dehydration or a lack of electrolytes.

3. Unsustainable bike position

All of us have noticed the bicycle rider completely set up with super aerodynamic equipment, sitting totally alert while on the horns of the saddle like they are ready for a recreational awareness ride on Sunday.

It is fantastic to have an extremely aerodynamic position, however, it has to be something you can manage consistently and have the capability to run in that same position. Having a physical therapy assessment for your bicycle, particularly using motion-tracking technology, is likely one of the most helpful investments you could make for your performance.

One of the most frequent errors in positioning is adding aero bars to a road bike without having them fitted correctly. When setting up a road bike, one usually needs to change the height of the saddle, move the saddle forward or backwards, and substitute a shorter stem to appropriately fit the tri bars.

If you don’t complete this task, you will be in an incredibly strained situation with a severely tight hip angle. You will be sacrificing plenty of strength and it will not be beneficial to a successful transition from the bike.

4. Inadequate training on race set-up

Triathletes may be unaware, but it’s a fact that carbon fibre will not get liquefied when it’s raining. You can’t give your time trial bike and aerodynamic wheels special treatment by only taking them out on race day and still expect to have a respectable performance.

It’s only by practising with your race set-up that you become completely familiar with the position and how the bike responds.

You can attach training wheels for longer rides, but also give time trials a go, and practice using deeper bike rims until you feel completely secure riding them regardless of wind conditions.

Neglect this action and you’ll be expending a lot of effort trying to stay on top of the bike or be inadequately sure of yourself to stay in the aerodynamic stance.

5. Lack of planning

Doing some investigation and, ideally, checking out the bike course beforehand can really increase your chances of success in the bike segment. If you do not have much time, you can drive around the path or look at it on Google Maps, and identify any sharp turns or steep changes that make it difficult to change gears.

Write down any signposts or points of reference that will assist you in measuring your elevation and watch out for any irregularities or dangers that could cause difficulties. This will enable you to travel at a quicker pace and with more assurance.

Be sure to be aware of the frequency of aid stations and what supplies they will have. If you are not accustomed to utilizing a different type of fuel for your training, make sure to test it out before the competition or determine a plan for providing for yourself.

It makes no sense to use this data that is available for practically all types of people, and be unaware.

6. Neglecting bike handling skills

Riding a bike skilfully is an art and unless you are an able cyclist, you are always going to do badly in a race.

At a very basic level, are you comfortable drinking or swapping a bottle on the go, can you unwrap an energy bar while riding and are you confident on descents? You must use your specific race configuration and practice the necessary techniques to become adept at them.

Staying indoors on an exercise bike over the winter isn’t going to make you a better cyclist. Aim to become a solid all-around rider.

Go mountain biking, participate in cyclocross events, give the track a go, and compete in a few circuit races. You’ll conserve your energy if you stay relaxed and work efficiently while riding a bike, and a lot of the abilities you pick up can be used in other places.

Navigating transitioning in and out of cyclocross, building your mountain biking cornering confidence, understanding how to adhere to the draft-legal rules in a bunched ride, and having the agility to hop over potholes can all be beneficial when participating in a race.

7. Cluttered bike

Examine the handlebars of an expert cyclist and you will notice how neat and unencumbered they are. It is possible to have a BTA bottle with a computer concealed within it, but that is all.

Compare this to a normal age-group race participant who will have numerous tools, fluid containers, nourishment, lunch containers and even mascots hung up in the spot on the cycle with the most streamlined outline.

Eliminate unnecessary items and try to keep them from being blown around by the wind. Have you spent a sizable amount on an aerodynamically efficient frame? Don’t hinder its performance by adding too much extra weight.

8. Clothing and equipment issues

One of the most typical and expensive errors in terms of clothing/equipment is using an incorrect aero helmet for your specific riding style. The helmet should blend in with your head and upper back seamlessly.

If you have a habit of bobbing or jerking your head, a helmet with a long tail may reduce your speed due to its tendency to rise up in the air. Choose a snub-tailed helmet instead.

In very hot weather, you might have to choose between a standard helmet with vents and one that offers aerodynamics. This wasn’t a problem for Chrissie Wellington at Kona, though. Then, look at those little details.

Trim away any extra chin-strap fabric, ensure your triathlon outfit fits properly, fasten the zipper and place your competition ID number in an area where it won’t be affected by the wind. Small endeavours, none of which are very difficult, lead to cumulative results.

9. Saddle height

Apart from having the wrong type of tires, positioning the saddle too high or low will make it difficult to effectively use the power from your legs. As a guide for getting your saddle height right, do the following:

  • Ride along with your heel on the pedal.
  • When your leg is at the very bottom of the pedal stroke your leg should be almost straight, but not quite.
  • Set your saddle at this height.
  • Then when riding with your foot in the ‘normal’ position (ball of the big toe over the centre of the pedal axle) you should achieve an efficient pedalling action, at an ideal height.
  • Don’t be afraid though to adjust a little higher or lower from this point, just to fine-tune things if needed.
  • You should still be able to touch the ground with your toes on either side of the bike whilst sitting in the saddle.

10. Braking in corners

This mistake is frequently made by bicyclists, especially those who are new to the activity.

You should apply the brakes before the turn rather than while in it, as this can cause the bike to skid when it is leaned over and results in you falling off.

The best way to approach a corner is to brake before it, not while turning.

On the way to a corner, it’s important to brake in a gradual fashion so that you reduce your speed sufficiently to navigate the bend easily and safely.

You should brake sooner on wet roads, as it will take more time to stop if you have calliper brakes rather than disc brakes.

11. No spares or tools

Before setting off on a bike ride, make sure you have some necessary parts and tools which would be able to help you get back if something goes wrong. As a guide I always take with me the following items that can be stashed in a saddlebag under your saddle or distributed in your pockets:

  • 2 x inner tubes
  • Tyre levers
  • Patches (instant stick-on type is best)
  • Mini Pump (or CO2 inflator)
  • Multi-tool (ideally with chain link extractor)

12. Grabbing hard on the brakes

When you need to decelerate, don’t just press the brakes firmly. Doing the brakes gradually should be done to keep the balance of weight on your bike as secure as it can be.

One of the risks of slamming on the brakes is a lack of control and balance and in some cases can cause you to be thrown over the handlebars.

To make sure you are braking safely, you should be looking ahead, predicting movements and applying gentle pressure to both the front and rear brakes equally, making sure to apply a bit more emphasis on the front brake.

13. Riding too far, too hard, too soon

Know your ability and ride within it. You should not hesitate to shoot for the stars, but the key to accomplishing your dreams is to progress gradually.

Cycling is a hard sport but wonderfully rewarding. Avoid undercutting your assurance by attempting too much too rapidly, as dependable and persistent practice will provide you with progress rather than attempting to rush it right away.

14. Poor bike maintenance

This is basic knowledge, but it is important both for convenience and safety. Develop the practice of inspecting your bike regularly and keeping it in good condition, especially if you want to avoid being stuck on the side of the road and having to be aided.

Make sure to give close consideration to the brakes, gears, handlebars and tires and routinely clean and oil the chain.

Frequent maintenance of your bike is advisable, especially if you don’t know much about the complicated parts. The best advice is not to change it.

15. Unsuitable clothing

This is one more thing related to biking that must be premeditated, because otherwise, you could end up being unhappy during a ride or even more seriously, in a perilous situation.

Be sure to look up the forecast for the whole time you’re on your journey. Consider how long the journey you are intending to take is and determine if the weather is likely to vary.

It’s better to opt for more clothing than you need in cooler climates as it is possible to remove items of clothing if you become too warm or partly open something to allow the breeze in.

If you unexpectedly encounter rain while wearing only shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, you might become rapidly chilled. To avoid that outcome, make sure to bring a lightweight windbreaker or waterproof vest, which can fit easily in your pocket.

It becomes critical to wear appropriate clothing for temperature changes when you are cycling on hilly land with great changes in altitude. You may feel hot when climbing but suffer from the cold due to the wind on the descent.

16. Not using gears efficiently

Using gears correctly can enhance your ability to traverse various terrain more efficiently. Most bikes will come equipped with more than 20 gears, allowing riders of all skill levels to select a gear ratio that works well for them.

It may take some time to find the appropriate gearing for yourself, but you should not be cycling so hard that your body begins to move back and forth as you are going 10 mph on a flat portion of the road.

At the other extreme, don’t try to use a really big gear that makes it difficult to pedal and causes pain in your knees.

It is recommended that when riding on a flat surface, a cyclist should pedal at a rate of 70-90 rotations per minute. Change to a lower gear for climbs, and increase the gear for flat downhill parts of the road.

This might appear to be straightforward information, however, if one judges this based on the number of persons I notice having difficulty while driving in the wrong gear, then it is more common than one realizes.


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