July 24, 2012

Take a Ride with Me

[Nelly]

==Event 2: Bike==

Ask me 6 months ago what I thought of the bike event and I'd tell you..."Easy peasy. I can ride a bike. Shouldn't be a problem." Fast forward to today...my opinion has changed to believe cycling is the most complex of the three disciplines.

I could create a new blog just to cover the mechanics of a bicycle. I could allocate singular posts on bike maintenance, pre-ride checks, gear changing, proper form and pedal stroke, how to clean and lube your chain, how to repair/change a tire [Triathletes are required to change their own flats during a race. I've been practicing. Got it down. Hopefully I won't have to use my new found skill. But it's good to be prepared.] The list goes on. Do you believe me now? ....It's flippin' complex.

So today I want to cover the basics for getting started.

Equipment

There is a saying:

Welcome to Triathlons. You are now broke.

This saying is mainly a result of the money spent on getting equipped for the bike event. And I think it doesn't emphasize the cost enough. I am not joking. I've spent a ridiculous amount of money. I have no choice but to be a cyclist for life.

My bike aka "Javier"

Bike

The bike is obviously the MOST important item. It's also going to empty the bank. So it's important your bike fits you.  I find the key to getting the right bike is try them all out. Seriously. When I was in the market, I heard "Specialized is the way to go", "Pick a Trek bike", "You can't go wrong with Giant"....guess what I ended up with after trying out all those brands? A Felt bike. And I love it.

You'll also need a helmet. A requirement. If I see your riding without one...just don't...I'll get scary. I've now warned you.

And lastly you'll need lube and a bike pump to keep your bike maintained.

Beyond that, there are some items that I couldn't go without and would suggest. They are also what I've gotten the most questions about during this process.

Clipless pedals and cycling shoes

After I took my first hill I was so happy I had these. The cleat on the bottom of cycling shoes clips into your pedals. It allows you to not only push, but also pull up on your pedal stroke. It creates a much more fluid and powerful stroke.

Also, cycling shoes have stiff sole. Which prevent loss of power and helps prevent common foot injuries.

Cycling Apparel

I admit I love buying clothes like the next girl. But this isn't about looking good. It's about comfort. Just take one ride without bike shorts and you'll understand why. And when you do, give me a ring. I'd like to see you walk like a cowboy just dismounted from his horse. I could use the laugh.

The terminology for cycling gear confused me. So here's the rundown:

Singlet: This is a tank top that is slightly longer in the back and has pockets in the back to hold fuel.
Jersey: This is the t-shirt you typically see cyclist wearing. They have a zipper in the front, are longer in the back, and have pockets for fuel.
Bib: Yuck. This can only be described by a single image...


You get it? It's AERODYNAMIC....and OH so sexy. [Barf]

Kits: You know all those cyclists out there that appear to be sponsored as they ride around with advertising covering their apparel? Yep, the majority of those are purchased suits. They typically consist of cycling shorts and a jersey.
Trisuit: This is what I am wearing here...


It specifically designed to quick dry (mesh back), be chlorine resistant, have bike padding (thin, almost not existent padding), a longer back, fuel pockets, and mine has a built in bra for the run.

Another gear question I've gotten is about the gloves...why wear them? There is vein that run through your wrist. During cycling the pressure you put on your handlebars prevents the blood flow and the hands fall asleep. With gloves, the padding opens up space for the blood to flow. Plus, it's more comfortable ;)

Technique

I am far, far, far from getting out of the novice category. SO I won't pretend to know what is the best form and pedal stroke. But I have learned a couple things I can pass along to you:

  • Your cadence should remain at 80-100, or up to 120 for sprinting.
  • Keep your shoulders open and back, otherwise expect some gnarly knots in your neck.
  • Push AND pull
  • Your feet shouldn't touch flat on the ground when you are seated. If they are...go get a fitting.
  • When you see a bump, try to avoid it. Duh. But if you can't stand up to lessen the shock OR pull your bike up with you to jump over it. 
  • It's natural to want to lean IN during a corner...but it's actually better to lean your body away from the corner and you bike into the corner.
And I am so proud of myself because in my last three rides I've taught myself how to hydrate and fuel without stopping. Here's the key...ride your bike a lot to build balance. 

Resources


My last piece of advice. OWN IT. I constantly remind myself to do that. The more confident of a cyclist you are the better. Don't be afraid of climbing. Go fast downhill. Learn to balance in the wind. And tell cars that you are the boss (but don't be stupid). And then have fun being a complete badass. It's not a sport for the wussies out there. It's toughened me up quite a bit.

Do you own a bike? If so, are you stronger at climbing or at speed?

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