Set Yourself Up for Success on the Bike in Your Triathlon

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Ben Franklin said it well. The simplest way to a better bike split is to not have a slower bike split by being forced to stop.

Assuming you’ve done all the training and are physically ready for the distance, here are a few quick tips to help prevent a bike fail on race day:

1. Have Your Bike Checked Out by a Mechanic Before Race Weekend

No last minute surprises on race weekend. Make sure your tires aren’t too worn, your brake pads are adequate and your shifters shift correctly. It may be tough and expensive to find a mechanic at the race locale who can fix your bike with all the other athletes competing for their time.

2. Ride Your Re-assembled Bike Before You Race on It

This applies you’ve had to take apart your bike in some way for travel. After flying to Florida with my bike checked as baggage, I made the mistake one year at the Great Floridian Triathlon by putting together my bike in the transition area. Once checked in, I was unable to take it out to ride it. About 20 miles in, I had to stop and tighten my aerobars. Wasted time.

3. Prepare for a Flat or Minor Mechanical

Many races will have race support, but there’s a good chance race support won’t be close to you when you flat unless you’re extremely luck. Be prepared to change your own tire and perform minor tweaks like adjusting your seat height. I always carry a multi-tool with me. If racing on clinchers, I recommend carrying two spare tubes and two CO2 cartridges just in case. If you’re racing with tubulars, consider taking an extra tire with you. I liked to fold mine up and tape to the inside of a water bottle cage or behind my seat post.

“What about the extra weight?” you may ask.

Even in a shorter race, not having to hang out by the side of the road for 30 minutes or, worse, walk back to the transition area, is worth the few extra ounces.

4. Don’t Over Inflate Your Tires

If you are required to check in your bike to transition the day before, let a little air out of your tires if it’s a hot day. The air inside your tire expands and increases the pressure. This will save you having to change a flat on race morning.

Don’t over inflate your tires early on race morning either. There’s no worse sound when you hear a loud “Pop!” just before the swim start.

5. Dress for Comfort

In all eight years that I’ve raced in the Vineman Triathlon (now IRONMAN Vineman), it’s foggy and cool in the morning with air temperatures in the mid-50’s. By late morning temperatures are typically up in the 80’s. What worked well for me was to wear arm warmers at the start of the bike to help keep me warm. As temperatures warmed up, I would roll down the warmers to my wrists.

Consider also that you’ll be sitting in one place for a relatively long period of time. Race with shorts or bibs that you’ve trained in rather than find out on race day that your shorts rub uncomfortably.

Be sure to also check our tips for a successful triathlon swim and tips for a superior run (without any additional training) on race day.

Good luck and happy racing,


About the Author:

David B. Glover, MS, CSCS has completed 28 IRONMAN distance triathlons including two sub 9 hour finishes and winning Vineman Full twice. Now, David’s passion now is helping triathlete and other endurance athletes achieve their dreams through his online triathlon education and training company, ENDURANCEWORKS. David has an MS in Exercise Physiology and is certified as a coach by USA Triathlon and USA Cycling as well as having his CSCS from NSCA. After six years of living, training and coaching in the triathlon mecca of Boulder, CO, David currently resides in Southern California.

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