Triathlon Training for New Cyclists

Organized or competitive riding may still be new to you, and although the rules of the road are still the same as for recreational cycling, the penalty for breaking them can be a severe accident. For all those new to competitive cycling, here is a list of a few do’s and don’ts:

 

 

Do ride with traffic. Cycling on the road can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s vital that you should stick to the rules of the road in order to stay safe and injury-free, especially if you are restricted in your training course by high traffic roads.

The proper and legal way to ride on roadways is with traffic, and not against it, contrary to the daredevil bicycle messengers you probably see in busy downtown streets.

Weaving in between parked cars is another typical mistake since it makes it hard for motorists to see you until it is too late. Ride in a straight line, avoid erratic or unexpected turns, and ride defensively.

Don’t ride on busy streets or paths. It amazes me whenever I see serious cyclists riding on busy roadways, with hundreds of cars passing by them within inches of their limbs.

Living in big cities makes it difficult to find open roads for cycling, unlike those who are fortunate enough to reside near countryside roads. But thousands of bicyclists are hit, at times fatally, by vehicles on highly trafficked roadways.

Get yourself a bike rack, and drive to a place which has less dangerous training routes if you do not reside near rural roadways with low traffic. Yes, it’s a pain and takes more time out of your busy schedule, but your ride will be much more enjoyable and, on top of that, safer.

Another tip: Try to ride at times when there might be much less traffic on the roadways.

Do take part in group and organized rides. Bike clubs and stores in almost every well-populated area of the country sponsor weekly rides, and longer organized rides happen almost every weekend.

Organized rides are a great means of practice, providing you with an opportunity to mix with a group of people who are near your current riding ability. Many large groups consist of a wide range of riding talent, from the slowpoke talkers to the stone-faced quad machines.

Weekend rides with frequent food stops range from 20 to 100 miles; they are excellent opportunities to get in a good amount of mileage without having to bother about having sufficient essential fluids and food with you. These kinds of events will relieve you from boredom that can set in during those rides that may go over 25 miles (40 km).

Don’t ride an uncomfortable bike. I have mentioned how essential it is to get a properly fitted bicycle, but I can’t stress this point enough. No one likes to be uncomfortable in an activity that may last an hour or much longer, and riding a bicycle that does not fit, or is uncomfortable, is just a real drag.

Other factors that affect comfort are the choice of a bicycle saddle (no real guideline here-you just have to keep trying them until you find one which fits your unique butt) and padded bicycle shorts.

Do be ready for anything. Unlike swimming in a pool at the YMCA, or running within a few miles from your doorstep, biking could take you some formidable distances. You might find yourself 10 or even more miles away from your home, on some lonely road without a soul in sight. So it is essential to be ready for any mishap that might occur, mechanical or otherwise.

First of all, do not ride wthout using bicycle helmet. Have a friend or someone at your local bike shop teach you the way to fix a flat tire. Carry at least two tubes and also a pump (or CO, air cartridges) with you at all times. Carry a multipurpose cycling tool which will fit in a behind-the-saddle frame bag for basic repairs even if you are not mechanically inclined.

Carry a credit card, driver’s license and some cash with you always. You can also bring a cellular phone plus some extra snacks and water for longer rides.

Don’t be intimidated. For beginners, biking might be intimidating for them for a couple of reasons. The expensive tri-bicycles you’re certain to find in the transition area of any competitive triathlon (particularly hotly contested, large events like Ironman qualifying races), are enough to make anybody rolling in with a mountain bike, or old clunker, feel ashamed. ┬áDon’t be intimidated – everyone has to start somewhere!

Good luck!

Terry

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