Biking Questions from a Beginner Triathlete

Triathlon Event  I’ve been training hard for my first mini tri and since I don’t live that far from the event site, I attempted a brick on the actual bike/run route. This was not my first brick, but I found the bike route to be incredibly challenging — even though I have been doing some hill work in training previously. The flats were hard because of strong headwinds, and the hills were so tough that I actually had to walk my bite for a bit at one point. I felt very discouraged — even considered withdrawing my registration, but was happy to find that once I started doing the 5K portion (totally flat), I felt OK. It was actually the best I’ve felt on a run portion of a brick to date. Two questions: Are you prohibited from walking the bike on a tough hill in tri races, and is it considered really bad form to do so? Second, in my last 2-3 weeks of training, should I focus my biking mainly on hills? Also, any suggestions for the best way to ride hills, when to start switching gears, etc. Thanks so much!

Thanks so much!
Peggy from New Jersey

Triathlon Event  Hi Peggy.
Thank you for contacting!

You sound like you are really moving along in your training and you should be proud of yourself! Don’t get discouraged!
To answer your questions:

  1. Although you should do your absolute best to complete the biking portion riding your bike, it is OK if you need to get off the bike and walk it. Although it’s more of the exception to the rule, it does happen and no one gives you dirty looks or throws tomatoes. Don’t beat yourself up if you do end up walking though. You should feel good about each leg of the race so that your “happy” endorphins will carry you into the next leg!

  2. In your last 2 weeks of training you should focus on the hills just to feel confident with them. You don’t want to be psyched out before you even start the race. In your last week of training you want to slow down ALL of your training and give your muscles a rest. This is called “tapering”. It gives your muscles a chance to rebuild so that you feel strong and energized for the race. You can still stretch out and keep your muscles warm by going for a short easy swim, bike or run — but don’t overdo it!

Lastly, people have all different strategies for biking hills. My personal preference is to keep the gear on “easy” biking up hills and then shifting it to a “hard” gear down hill. The idea is that if you peddle hard downhill, it will relieve the amount of energy expended during your uphill bike because the momentum will help you zoom up a portion of it. During flat sections, just put the bike into a gear that is comfortable for you.

If you talk to any cyclist, they will give you a different opinion, so please find what is most comfortable for you. You’re a beginner triathlete and will learn lots of things along the way.

We wish you a very enjoyable race and hope that you write again telling us all about it when it’s over!

Be well.

Megan Recommended Resources:


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