So if you know me and my coaching style, you will know that I will always say, there are no short cuts, just honest hard work. BUT there is a quicker way to becoming a better cyclist without having to train like a pro cyclist!
Firstly, ignore your cycling buddies who will constantly be telling you that you need to spin at high RPM cadence (preferably 100 or more). This is fine if you grew up pedaling with gear restrictions and had to spin like a trooper to get anywhere.
Secondly, ignore what the pro cyclists are doing. They are pros who have likely come up through the system and can spin a big gear (that’s why they are pros). They spend 30 hours a week on the bike, have a massive Vo2 max and can quite happily spin along at a high cadence and in a big gear.
We as age-group triathletes on the other hand have generally come to the party a lot later in life than our (non triathlete) cycling friends. On top of our cycling training, we also have to juggle swim and run training. And let’s not forget, we have to do it solo on the bike come race day i.e NO DRAFTING! So we have way less time to devote to a silky smooth pedaling action.
So, to get to the point – I’m talking about stomping on the pedals, or pushing a bigger gear than our cycling friends would recommend.
THE 2 KEY REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD MASH A BIGGER GEAR FOR TRIATHLON
With a lower cadence it’s easier to keep your HR down. A higher HR is often the biggest cause of stomach issues, especially during long course events like an Ironman. If you are not getting your nutrition in on the bike, the run is likely going to end up a long walk.
Fighting gravity is pointless. Recent studies have shown that we are only really creating force on the downward stroke. Save your energy and focus on pushing down harder, rather than worrying about dragging your foot across the bottom and pulling up through the pedal stroke etc.
So the simplest way and the way I have seen the best results from my athletes, is BIG RING only riding. This means committing to riding your bike everywhere in the Big Ring, and I mean everywhere. It can get pretty ugly on some of the harder climbs, but if you stick with it, I guarantee you will see some big improvements in your cycling.
If you do not want to go to that extreme or are struggling with knee or back pain, then start by adding some BG efforts into your rides. So on a 2-hour ride you could insert 4 x 10 mins BG during the ride.
If you are struggling with knee or back pain please be careful with this kind of riding as it does put an extra load on the knees and back.
As I said above there are no short cuts, but if you want to get to the pointy end of the bike course, this can definitely help.
PS: Your cycling buddies will stop taking the piss out of your riding style when you drop them ?