The second part of a triathlon involves a bike ride, but triathlon biking isn't your ordinary pedal through the park. Even in the shortest triathlon you're in for at least 12 miles (20 kilometers) of nonstop cycling, and in a sprint race that means biking anywhere from 30 to 55 minutes [source: Beginner Triathlete].
Perhaps more than in any other leg of the triathlon, having proper equipment is important in this portion of the race. At the very least, you'll need a racing bicycle, a bike helmet and a bike tool kit (to make any unexpected repairs during the race). Just as important as choosing the right bike is making sure your bike is adjusted properly to fit you, the rider. It's so important to have a good bike fit -- handlebar height, seat height and tilt, crank position and so on -- that you might consider getting it adjusted professionally at a bike shop. An improperly adjusted bike makes for a long and uncomfortable ride, so it's worth the time and effort to ensure the right fit.
Just like swimming, cycling technique is crucial. Here are some basic tips for good cycling technique:
- Low gear, high revolutions -- Pedaling faster at a lower gear increases your cycling efficiency and actually reduces fatigue [source: Stieg]. Using a higher gear will make it more difficult to keep your pace, is less efficient and can possibly result in knee injury.
- Lean forward -- Unlike leisure cycling, where it's more comfortable to sit upright, the most efficient position for racing is a slight forward lean over the bike, keeping your back straight, which is more aerodynamic than an upright position.
- Push forward, pull upward -- In each revolution of your pedals, you'll not only push down on the pedal as it rotates forward, you'll also pull up on the pedal as it completes its revolution. Putting force into both the push and the pull gives you more power behind each revolution.
For cycling training, try to get in about an hour of riding once or twice a week. Practice on a course similar to the one you'll be racing on. If the upcoming course is hilly or winding, you'll want to make sure you can handle the bumps and curves.
Now let's get a little closer to the ground and switch over from cycling to running. In the next section, you'll learn what it takes to keep up the pace and finish the race.