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Beginners guide to triathlon - Tackling the bike leg

The cycling will make up the largest portion of your triathlon on race day, so knowing what is in store and preparing well is key.

If you live locally to the race you have entered, it can be useful to ride the course before race day. You will then be ready for any tight corners or sneaky climbs, and this should fill you with confidence.

When you racked your bike at the start of the day, you should have satisfied yourself that your bike was in good working order, checking the brakes and that your tyres were pumped up for starters. Leave your bike in a gear that will allow you to begin pedalling with ease when you have crossed the mount line.

There are several different ways to get on your bike, some of which are quicker than others, but in your first triathlon, simply ensure you have crossed the mount line and then climb on. You do not have to do this right away! If the area is congested with other riders, simply push your bike further, until you have reached a clear space and have room to set off smoothly.

During your training you should have gradually built up your endurance, working towards being able to comfortably cycle the required distance on the day. In addition to this, you will hopefully have included some interval sessions, which will help you along the way to achieving the fastest bike split you are capable of! You can find our Olympic distance training plan here, if you are looking for further guidance on training.

You should familiarise yourself with the race rules ahead of your triathlon (these will often be emailed from the race organisers). In most cases, drafting will not be allowed, so you will need to keep the necessary distance between you and the rider in front, unless you are overtaking.

Ensure you have practised eating and drinking on the bike! It may sound silly, but it is so important that you are able to take on fluids and nutrition on the move, especially if it is a longer distance race.

Before you know it, the miles will begin ticking down and you will be on your way to transition and the final section of your triathlon.

Once again, look out for the line on the ground and a marshal, indicating that you should dismount. Do this before you cross the line and then push your bike back to your transition space. In this video we show you how to run efficiently whilst pushing your bike!

Put your bike back on the rack and only then, remove your helmet. If you were wearing cycling shoes, quickly remove them and switch into trainers.

Your race number will need moving around to your front for the final leg of the race…the run (this is easiest done wearing a race belt).

Well done - That was the longest section of the event over and you are on the home straight! Just the run to tackle and you will have completed a triathlon!

Our top tips for the bike leg of your triathlon…

  • Ride safely! Just because this is a race does not mean all of your road sense should go out of the window. Think about the traffic and other athletes. You want to get to the finish line in one piece!

  • Pace yourself. Do not get carried away. Riding your fastest ever bike split is great, but not if you then have no energy or the legs to run with!

  • Think about where you will store your nutrition. This is particularly relevant for longer distance triathlons. Easy access and in sight is best so that you don’t forget to keep your energy topped up! A storage bag or box that sits on your top tube can be a good option, or selotaping gels along this part of your bike also works well!

  • Don’t feel that you must get on your bike as soon as you have crossed the mount line. If it is congested in that area, run with your bike past the other athletes and find clear space to begin to ride.

  • Think about your gears – Have you left your bike in an easy gear for when you first get on? Use the last section of the bike leg to spin an easier gear, getting those legs ready for running!

  • As we have mentioned before, testing the kit you will wear on race day is really important – you don’t want any chaffing! Are you comfortable? - You can look at the gorgeous Pretty Gritty trisuits here -

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