Monday, July 23, 2007

Shift Your Way To A Bike Split PR

I read about and see so many people focusing on expensive gimmicks and training plans all aimed at making you faster. This is all fine and good and there is a place for this. However, many people are missing out on lots of free speed, especially on the bike.

The easiest and quickest way to get some of this free speed is too learn how to shift your bike properly. I hear you all saying now, I know how to shift. You pull up on the shifter for easier gears, and push down when I want a harder gear. Simple, Right? Not necessarily.

If you watch top riders they will do a lot of passing approaching hills, and going over the top of hills. This is because of how and when they are shifting.

Approaching a hill.

A lot of people panic when approaching a hill. They shift into the gear they believe they need to be climbing in way too early. To get free speed when going up the hill the best way to shift is to focus on maintaining a constant high cadence and effort as long as possible.

How you shift can assist you in this. When approaching the hill try and maintain your momentum as long as possible. Shift down one gear at a time and hold each gear until your cadence is starting to fall. Then shift to the next gear. By doing this you will maximize the momentum gained on the approach. This is a very effective technique when riding rolling hills. Often you can avoid getting into your granny gear at all. Not only will this save you speed, it also saves a lot of effort. The less time you spend grunting in your granny gear the better.

If you learn this skill rolling hills can actually be faster than a completely flat race course.

The disclaimer with this one is that you need to have full confidence in your bikes ability to shift smoothly when climbing. Skipping a gear doing this could result in the loss of a lot of momentum.

At the top.

For all of us after grunting up a hill the instinct is to ease off once we are at the top to get a bit of a breather. However, you give up a lot of speed when a few more pedal strokes can net you up to 5 seconds time bonus! Multiply that by the number of hills you will do in any given race and viola! Free time!

When you reach the top of a hill resist the urge to rest right away. Keep pedalling strongly over the top of the apex of the hill. This should include shifting through a few gears as well. Give a couple of real strong pedal strokes once you start heading down the other side of the hill before taking a rest. Once again, it is all about momentum. If you can give the bike a bit of a boost before heading down the hill the momentum gained at the top will result in greater gains further down!

Ideally you should keep pedaling down the hill as long as possible. A little input at this stage from you can increase your speed by 5 -8 km per hour. Where else during a race can a little pedaling have such an effect?

Other things you can do!

PSI. No that is not the newest crime drama out there. Pounds Per Square Inch. This is the pressure that is in your tires! Properly inflated tires are an easy source of free speed.

Most clincher tires can hold around 120 PSI in pressure comfortably. Some people flirt with more. The higher the pressure in your tire the harder it becomes to make the tire bend or flex. It can also narrow the footprint of the tire. The less material touching the road the faster you will go. This is part of the reason the skinny tires on road bikes are faster than mountain bikes. Making sure your tires are properly inflated is a vital pre race routine.

When entering transition you always see people inflating their tires. They do this at the race for a couple of reasons.

  1. High pressure in tires can be a little volatile. Especially when you are taking the bike in and out of a car that may or may not have a large temperature difference from the outside air temperature. Hotter outside = Air pressure to expand, and possible rupture the tire. Colder outside = loss of air pressure do to contraction. Always remember to let out a little air pressure when packing your bike inside a car.
  1. In the morning temperatures are cold. If you inflate your tires too early you could loss up to 5-8 PSI in air pressure. Do it as close to race time as possible.

Properly inflated tires also reduce the risk of a puncture. The smaller footprint also makes it harder to hit things. The higher pressure also doesn’t allow the tire to flex. This is when a lot of punctures happen.

Inflate your tires before every ride!

Clean your bike. A clean bike is a happy bike, and a happy bike goes fast.

Especially your chain. Not only does this reduce friction, it also lengthens the lifespan of many parts on your bike.

Hope these tips help gain some free speed for some of you!

Safe riding!

NIagara Sprint Triathlon

Heave Ho!!!

I’ll explain later.

Real short race. Seemed especially short since the last three races I have done have been a 1/2 IM. Long Course, and an OLy.

I had a long week of training prior to this race to try and consolidate the fitness gains I had made during and after peterborough. Left me a bit sluggish. I was not in a real racey mood.

That is until the gun went off. I pushed hard in the swim. It burnt pretty bad until about half way, and I really found a groove. I was motoring, and not using too much energy. Out of the water I was in the top 10 overall.

Swim: 11:09

On to the bike, facing the beast of the east. It is a tough climb, but after watching the tour, it is nothing! PAced it well up the climb. I need to focus on remaining seated even on the steep bits. I really am way more efficient that way. I did this on the last pitch of the climb and felt great. Lost a few spots, but managed to gain most of them back.

I pushed hard on the bike. Harder than I have pushed all year. It felt great. I knew that if I pushed until we got to the downhill back down the escartment and freewheeled it back I should be able to recover well. Everytime I looked down I was doing over 42kmph. A little suprised at the average of 34.8, but I guess that is a result of the hill.

Bike: 40?

Blew in and out of t2 in 0:35 seconds. Which was a goal for this race. I wanted to cut a bit of time there. Turns out that this was important!

Onto the run. I thought I was in first place so I was booking it. I pushed hard right out of the gate and it hurt. The body was not responding well. I think I should have taken a gel on the bike.

Anyways, Managed to keep the legs turning over OK, but it was a big struggle. By the last couple of KM I was really spent, but I didn’t want to get passed so I just kept pushing.

Run 27:30

Just as I crossed the line all of a sudden my stomach decided to void itself of what little was in there. I went right to the garbage pail at the end of the shoot and let ‘er rip. THis is the first time this has ever happened to me!

Felt great afterwards. I’m not sure quite why this happend, but it did.

My favourite line was “Excuse me, you need to take of your chip, oops, when your ready!”

he he.

The weird thing is that this little girl stood a couple of feet away watching me hurl. It was weird.

I came second in my AG and 14th overall. My best overall showing to date. More importantly I finished 5 seconds in front of the person I am racing for the overall in my AG so I extended my lead by a little.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Peterborough 1/2 Ironman

This was one of two A races for the season for me. Because of this I did a full taper. I hate tapering. You feel like a sloppy bag of poo not being able to train much.

Luckily I had some nice new (too me) race wheels to stare at! : > Nothing like new gear to keep you interested. The bike looks badass! all black carbon wheels, black frame.

Woke up 5am and met my ride to peterborough. This is the closest race to my house only a 40 min. drive.

We got there nice and early so there was no concerns with washrooms, racking etc... Got the bike and gear racked up and warmed up nicely.

The swim.

Peterborough is a very weedy swim. I don't particularly mind this as I swim in a weedy lake at home so I think this is a bit of an advantage for me.

2000m swim? More like 2100 +. I hauled ass and did a 29:55. I should have been mid 28:00 for the effort I put out. Still relative to the field I was very happy. 14th out of the water and 13th onto the bike.
Had a good draft most of the way.

T1. Nice and smooth. Decided to put on socks for this one.

90km bike. As I now see myself as a mature triathlete:> I planned on pacing myself well. My goal was to average around 35-36kmph. A heavy head wind on the way back eliminated this. I still managed 34.8, but not the pace i was hoping for.

However, the pacing of my effort was good and I was feeling pretty strong near the end of the 90km. There was a guy who drafted off of me for a while, and then jumped to the wheel of another athlete who passed us. He got a penalty, and that made me happy!

I was planning on drinking 6 bottles of water/gatorade on the bike due to the weather forcast. I ended up only drinking 5 as the temps didn't reach the highs we were expecting. Took 4 Gu's on the bike (I love Gu!) and everything was peachy keen!
Bike 2:35

T2. Very fast sub one minute.

Legs felt pretty good right out of transition. Turn over was high. I didn't like the grassy section they made us run through. It was really tough after the first loop when your legs are tired. I did not check out the run course beforehand, since it was new, that might have been a good idea.

There were a number of really steep punchy hills starting around 3km. I like the idea of the loop as it allows you to set much shorter goals. Just keep this pace to the turn around. . .etc... It was a challenging course and I think I liked the old one better.

The first loop was OK. I held a steady pace, and the body was coping. Started to feel a little rough after the first loop so I took a GU.

After about 3km into the second loop the legs really started to come around. Just like in Muskoka. It seems that I don't start running really strong until after 13km. Not a bad thing. I held back a bit until getting over the top of the last hill. I still had a ton left and really pushed hard for the last 4km.

This emptied the tank. I was really spent crossing the finish line, however I felt great about how I raced.

My initial goal was a 1:35 run. Hoping for 4:30ish kms.

Ended up Finishing in 1:40:00. I really don't think I had much more in me than that. Still very happy. Last year I ran a 1:55. so big improvements here.

Finished 4:48.33 Which is great. My goal was around 2:50.00 so definetely beat that. Right were I want to be in prep for IM this year. Beat last year by 23min. Big time PB.

This is great becuase it confirms the time goals I have for IM. Now I've got around 4 months to train for it.

In reality I am just glad to have this one out of the way. It has been a bit of a burden, and now I am free to focus strictly on training for IM. (maybe a bit of focus on qualifying for worlds next year.)