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Male cyclist rides down Congress Avenue during CapTex Tri with the Texas State Capitol in the background. Text in design reads 5 Bike Handling Skills Every Triathlete Should Know. Learn more at https://captextri.com/bike-handling-skills/

5 Bike Handling Skills Every Triathlete Should Know

Why triathletes should focus on bike handling skills

Competency with your bike handling skills gives you a decisive advantage over your competition. You gain the experience, knowledge, and practical ability to bike better and more efficiently. Success at a triathlon depends on how well you can gauge your environment. You’ll be surrounded by people, have to traverse across various kinds of terrain, and your journey will be long. That is why you should be completely comfortable with riding your bike for long hours. Here are five key bike handling skills that will help you become a more successful triathlete.

Pro tip: follow these steps before every ride to ensure your helmet fits.

The skills every triathlete should nail

  • Starting and Stopping

These are the most basic bike skills that you must master. Without having solid control over your bike, you could end up in an accident. If your bike uses clip-on pedals, then you should become familiar with them. Practice clipping and unclipping your pedals while riding until you perfect it.

  • Braking and Corners

Speed isn’t always your best friend when it comes to triathlon. This really applies to corners. Instead of pressing down on the brake once you reach the corner, try slowly braking as you near it. This way, you get time to think about the turn you’ll make and pre-emptively react to any dangers ahead.

  • Bike Handling and Shifting gears

Your timing with gear handling should be impeccable. You can achieve this by spending as much time riding on the roads as you can. The natural environment will teach you how to gauge the timing of your shifting. Once you develop this skill, you’ll begin to shift your gears more naturally as you get to your location.

  • Know your Cadence

The cadence in a bike is the number of times you can pedal per minute. Cadence is also known as pedaling rate. Triathletes should be able to maintain a consistent pedaling rate between 90-100 revolutions per minute. By practicing every day, you should be able to get to this level.

  • Drinking while biking

If you’re going to compete in a triathlon, your nutritional intake should be right. You don’t want to get dehydrated during the event nor do you want to feel anything less than your best. That is why you should practice grabbing your water bottle while your biking. You can do this by biking slowly at first, as you reach to your water bottle holder to grab the bottle, drink from it, and place it back. Over time, you will gain the confidence to do this with ease. Pro tip: you will spill and your bike will get dirty. Take the time to clean it with these simple steps!

These basic bike handling skills will take you from a cyclist to a real competitor. You need more than a better bike to succeed at triathlon. Developing your skills is what will help you achieve success. If you’re in the market for a new bike, make sure you know the differences between triathlon and road bikes.

Female runner completes the final leg of the 2019 CapTex Tri on the South 1st Street Bridge. Text in design reads habits of a successful triathlete. Read the habits at https://captextri.com/habits-of-a-successful-triathlete/

Habits of a Successful Triathlete

Become a successful triathlete when you practice these 8 habits

To be a triathlete you need to have the basics of swimming, biking, and running down. But to become a successful triathlete (whatever that means to you/ whatever your goals may be) there are some other lifestyle changes you can make to really be successful. There are a few habits you can adopt to help you get there that already line up with your goals. Keep reading to discover the habits successful triathletes have in common.

Do your research/PREPARE

Find the right race for you. If you’re new to the sport, don’t go for a longer distance tri. Start slow and build your way up to your desired event distance. Will you need a wetsuit? Is your race even wetsuit legal? What are the benefits of a race being USAT certified? There’s a lot to learn, like knowing the difference between triathlon and road bikes. Proper preparation can reduce unexpected surprises that may come your way during training or on race day. 

Pace yourself

Don’t go full force when you’re first training or just getting back into training after offseason. Find a training plan and follow that as your guide. Be willing to make training tweaks if needed.

Know how to fuel

Nutrition during training and during the race has a huge impact on the way you can expect to perform come race day. Make sure you’re following the right nutrition plan for your body and the event distance you signed up for. 

Give Your Gear the TLC it needs

Take care of the gear that takes care of you. Follow instructions for proper care and give your bike frequent tune-ups to maximize performance. Clean gear is happy gear!

Know what you can control

You’ve done everything you can to make sure this race goes perfectly. You did a gear check, you packed the perfect race day bag and you’re ready to go! Then a storm hits. Don’t let this get you down or let you feel defeated before the race even starts. You know you’ve spent the time training and just remember to focus on what you can control for a good race. All the other athletes there are experiencing the exact same thing. Pre-race jitters are real and they can throw even the best athletes off track. If you know your jitters on race morning are going to be bad, work on a couple of exercises or something to help you distract yourself from the nerves on race morning. We see this all the time and its a really great way to center yourself before starting the swim!  

REST!

Take some time off when you need it! Listen to what your body is telling you so you don’t overdo it and risk an injury. 

Enjoy healthy food

Switching up your diet for healthier options is a really simple yet effective way to help you during your training. Of course, you don’t have to stop eating what you really love, but adjusting to a cleaner, healthier lifestyle is great for maintaining energy during workouts as well as leaving you feeling good too. 

Successful triathletes stay in the moment

Take it one day at a time. Everyone has good days and bad days and training for a triathlon is no exception. Remember why you started this journey or what inspired you to and focus on that when you’re having a tough day. Be kind to yourself and find ways to keep yourself motivated to reach the goal of crossing that finish line!

Woman buying helmet and checking the fit for safety

Easy Steps to Check Your Helmets Fit

Get the right fit and know that your helmet is fully protecting you

An unexpected fall from a bike can happen at any time with the potential to result in brain injury. The good news is that a properly-fitted helmet will reduce this risk. 

Helmets come in a variety of sizes depending on the manufacturer. Even though they are sized they will come with a fine-tuning dial so that you can adjust the helmet to fit your head specifically. Take the time to check your helmet before every ride. Your life is worth it and could depend on how your helmet is set up. Use these tips on how to make sure you have the right fit for your bike helmet. 

Size

The first thing you should adjust when choosing a helmet is the fit pads or adjuster ring. The helmet needs to be snug around your head to effectively protect you. It should not be too tight where you feel pressure and not too loose that there is any wiggle room. It should not be able to move from side to side or slip back off your forehead. If needed, add more fit pads to get a secure fit. If your helmet has an adjuster ring, modify the circumference until the helmet is fitted properly for your head. 

Positioning

The next thing to determine is how high the helmet should sit on your head to protect your head on all sides, in case of a fall. Two finger-widths should be visible on your forehead. You can also decide if your helmet fits properly by looking up. You should be able to see the rim or front edge of the helmet when you do so without interfering with your vision.

Pro tip: you should always wear protective lenses with your helmet, so make sure there is enough room to wear them both comfortably.

Straps

Cyclist wearing a helmet properly with instructions to check proper helmet fit for saftyTo keep the helmet in place, the next step is ensuring the chin straps are long enough to reach under your chin and can be tightened securely. This part is especially important because you do not want to be dealing with an ill-fitting helmet during your next tri. 

The “Y” shaped strap needs to fit under your ears comfortably and buckle under your chin without being too tight. Your helmet should not be able to move more than an inch in any direction. After you buckle the chin strap, it should be secured in the correct position.  You should not be able to fit more than one finger under the chin.

These straps can sometimes loosen with time so it is important to check your helmets fit before each ride. 

Comfort

While comfort is not a safety feature in itself, having a helmet that you find comfortable will mean that you wear it more often. While every helmet is the same safety rating, you will find more expensive helmets have more vents. If you have long rides planned during hot weather, having these extra vents to cool you off might make you more comfortable. 

Bicycle helmets only work if you wear them correctly. Helmets should always be replaced if they are in a crash. Yes, even if it is a “small one”, if your helmet makes any contact it could be compromised and should be replaced.

If you’re riding alone or going on a group ride, use these tips when shopping around for your next helmet to make sure you are as safe as possible on your future rides.

Checking your helmet fit for safety:

  1. The helmet is the proper size
  2. Fit is comfortable to be worn for long periods of time
  3. The helmet is snugly fit and cannot be moved more than 1 inch in any direction
  4. The helmet is no more than 2 fingers above the eyebrows. 
  5. Chin straps are tight with no more than one finger width under your chin.
  6. Side buckles are fastened just slightly in front of and below the ears.