I have lost count of the times I have been riding with different groups over the years only to get frustrated. When people get into groups on the bike you can see those who know how to ride properly and those that don’t. This is particularly true of triathlon cycling groups.
However, more importantly you can see the ones that do know how to ride properly are not making what I think are the three biggest mistakes made by age group triathletes. Yet these mistakes are easily fixed.
The fact that the mistakes are easily fixed is the reason I get frustrated. Yet once they are fixed it is amazing to see how much better cyclists they are and consequently how their race performances subsequently improve.
- The first mistake is not practicing their skills enough. This is especially evident in a group situation when people need to navigate corners, potential obstacles, riding close to others, braking suddenly and their general body language on a bike.
There is an old saying that the best fast riders are the best slow riders. That means they spend time practicing their skills which may at times mean riding slowly. When you consider the amount of people on a triathlon race course and the differing abilities it is even more important to be proficient in things like emergency braking, cornering and overall bike handling.
Solution – spend time each week practicing your skills. Allocate a portion of your easy aerobic rides to practicing your skills every week.
2. The next mistake is riding at the wrong intensity too much of the time. Triathlon cycling especially seems to see many age group triathletes riding much of their training in a moderate zone. Not easy to develop endurance and not hard to develop speed and strength. Yet by riding at a moderate pace for extended periods of time your triathlon cycling performance starts to plateau.
It’s even worse in group rides especially middle-aged men in lycra! Not wanting to show weakness on the bike by surging up the hills, pushing hard when on the front of the group or trying to hang onto the group when you should be riding at your easy pace.
Group riding is great for social connections and enjoyment however it is not always going to be beneficial to an individual’s specific training needs.
Solution – make sure your training is polarized. Easy on the easy and hard on the hard with only a very small fraction of your time spent training at a moderate intensity. If you ride with a group try and limit it to no more than a handful. Don’t let ego stop you from dropping off the group if they are going too hard when you’re supposed to riding easy.
3. The final mistake is not having a clear goal or objective for sessions on the bike. Many go out and ride aimlessly without ever achieving anything. As age group triathletes we don’t have the time to ride sessions that are not achieving anything.
When you’re trying to balance the demands of improving across swim, bike and run plus manage the rest of your life, training sessions without a goal or purpose are wasted opportunities.
Solution – before starting your bike sessions be clear about what your goal is for the session. Is it an easy ride to develop endurance, a strength session on the hills or high quality interval session on the indoor trainer.
Once you get into a routine of adopting these three solutions into your triathlon cycling training you’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it will make. They don’t require any extra time or massive changes to your program. But they will make a big difference to your performance on race day.