Today was spent mostly on the bike. We started off practicing T1 (transition 1 from swim to bike) specifically on how to mount the bike. This can be a headache and fear for many triathletes. The majority of age group triathletes don’t spend much time practicing this skill. For these athletes they are quite content putting on the their bike shoes, running with their bike to the mount line, stopping and then getting on. However, in the pro field it’s a whole different story. Every second counts and an inefficient, slow bike mount could be the difference between biking in the first pack or getting dropped off the bat and playing catch up for the next 25 miles–not a fun place to be in!!! Thus the bike mount is important. Perfecting this skill is an easy way to gain “free speed.”
Bike mount 101:
#1: clip in your shoes to your pedals–one less thing for you to do in T1 coming out of the water.
#2: rubberband your shoes in place so they don’t flop around when you run with your bike. Hooking the bands to the frame and/or front derailer are good options.
#3: rack your bike, go swim and then when you come back…
#4: take your bike off the rack and run with it holding it by the seat–not the handlebars!
#5: as you approach the mount line, move hands to the handlebars in preparation to mount.
#6: as you are running you will jump with the inner leg going over the seat while the outer leg does a skip and hop off the ground. And voila, you’re on the bike!
#7: next step is to get your feet on top of your shoes, but it shouldn’t be that hard because you already tied them in place.
#8: pedal up to speed and then put your feet in the shoes, velcro it tight and off you go!
Ok, I know it is not as simple as a 1-2-3 process. It takes practice–trust me, I’m still learning! The best place to practice mounts is on grass and yes, sometimes you will miss the seat and land on the bike frame. It hurts, but you’ll be better for it. This is a skill and needs to be worked on. PRACTICE!
FYI age groupers: it’s very impressive to on-lookers when you can mount your bike without slowing down or losing momentum. ALL OF YOU are capable of good mounts, but it takes focus and disciplined practice. So go get yourself some rubberbands, find a grass soccer field and practice away!
After mount practice, I headed out with the guys for a nice and steady 30 mile ride. It was quite fun. We practiced rotating pace lines (single and double) and toured around Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. Then lunch and a bike maintenance tutorial followed that. We learned more about the bike in general and specifics on how to care for our bikes, take them apart and fix things here and there. As our bike maintenance guru said:
A clean bike is a happy bike. And a happy bike is a fast bike!
The more you take care of your bike, the better off you will be. You got to remember we are riding around on expensive pieces of equipment. Many of our bikes cost as much as a car does (average $6k). And to think we are putting our lives at risk and riding around on 8lb pieces of carbon–we better know a thing or two about bike maintenance! Our bikes don’t have a “check engine” light. It is the rider’s responsibility to know his/her equipment.
After that it was off to the pool for some speed work and pace lining. This was a fun time for me! It’s easy to forget how much different triathlon swimming is from pool racing. In the pool you have your lane, your space, your bubble. You get reprimanded in training if you are going too close to the person in front of you. You can’t draft in races–not really unless you have great positioning next to the lane line and the person in the other lane is in a good position to give you a draft. Other than that, you’re on your own.
Not so in triathlons. It’s a mad dash start and yes, you can draft just like in the bike (see Day 13 note for more on pace lines and drafting). One of the best places to get a good draft is right off of someone’s hip, not directly behind them. So we did a couple drills practicing switching leaders, dropping back, pulling head, sprinting and then settling into tempo/race pace. Stuff like this makes draft-legal racing exciting and especially interesting. There is strategy involved on every leg of the race.
After some muscle recovery work in the afternoon to help alleviate soreness, dinner, a movie and some fro yo to top off the night, it’s time for bed. Tomorrow is the last full day of camp. Wow, it’s been quite a ride. Stay tuned for the conclusion of my Colorado adventures.