I have been a cyclist for a very long time…….yes I am a triathlete and yes I consider myself a cyclist. Most cyclist would argue with me tooth and nail because they don’t believe a triathlete is a cyclist and I kind of agree with them…..sorry. The reason I kind of agree with them is that not all but a LARGE majority of triathletes don’t ever take the time to actual learn how to ride a bike.
For those few of us triathletes that actually consider ourselves cyclists it is because we took the time to learn about how our bike works and how to utilize the bike as a tool to make us more efficient and faster. This knowledge came through the combination of years spent in the saddle on the road or in the dirt along with a general interest in the sport of cycling; enough so that we have read some articles/books and actually watch some cycling events on TV.
Triathletes are notorious for reading about and buying every new scientific advancement that may gain them a fraction of a second; the newest aero wheels, aero helmets, wind tunnel testing and not to mention rolling resistance of tires. I mean common on really triathletes are looking at the rolling resistance of tires but don’t even understand shifting! And with all of that reading and researching and making sure you have the “fastest setup” possible for your bike you haven’t even taken the time to learn how to ride it. This is why road cyclist do not respect triathletes as ‘cyclist’, and I really can’t blame them. But all of that changes now, right here right now! You are different, you are going to be a cyclist because you are going to take to read this series and learn how your bike works and how you are going to become a faster rider by taking advantage of the machine you already have!
Now walk over to your bike….wait take the computer with you or else how will you be able to read what I am saying (note to self; this might be tougher than I thought)….ok put your left hand on your bike and raise your right hand then repeat after me. “I …(state your name)….solemnly do swear to dedicate myself to understanding how to better utilize my bike as the amazing beautiful machine it is. I will respect my bike and learn why it actually has all of these gears. I will learn how to let go of the brakes on descents and let the bike go as fast as it was built to do. I will ride this bike to a new PR split because we will understand how to work together.” Now let go of your bike and get back to the other side of the room before your roommate/spouse walks in and thinks your crazy. (FYI if you actually just did that you are crazy but I love it and respect your craziness!)
As I mentioned before to become a true cyclist it takes time riding your bike as well as learning about it. This series of posts will not help you log any of the riding time but it will certainly help you with the knowledge that will hopefully make your time riding more enjoyable which will lead to more riding. This series will touch on a lot of different aspect of cycling from shifting, descending, cornering, cadence, climbing to breaking and anything else that hits me along the way. We will not simply talk about the “How To” of these topics but the more important “Why”. A triathlete understands how to shift where a cyclist understands when and why to shift based on gear ratio.
This isn’t going to be a quick fix. It is going to take time for me to put on paper the over 20 years of cycling knowledge that I have gained and then the time for you to read it, understand it and go out and practice it. It might be easier to go out out and buy a pair of Zipp wheels to gain some speed but if you take the time to learn and practice you can gain that same speed and it will be a whole lot cheaper. Not to mention when you become a cyclist competing against triathletes with the same Zipp wheels you will still have an advantage that they can’t buy.
I will attempt to post a new topic every week starting next week; if I happen to get to it before the new week I will post it and send out a notice via social media (Facebook, Twitter so if you are not following me you may want to start). In the mean time as I begin to work on the first topic, shifting/gear ratio, I am going to leave you with some homework to help you get better aquatinted with your bike (aka whip) and this information will also allow you to better understand the posts to follow.
If you have a bike computer what does it display? (mph, cadence, avg mph/cadence)
Do you have a Standard or Compact Crank? (Standard 53/39, Compact 50/34)
What is the length of your crank arm? (170, 172.5, 175, etc..)
What is the range of your cassette? (11-23, 12-25, 12-28, etc..)
What is your normal/comfortable cadence on a flat road?
What is your normal/comfortable cadence on a climb?
What is your general average speed on a flat road?
If you don’t know the answers off the top of you head then take a look at your bike and you will find the answers. If you are unsure where to look then take to the internet and try to find the answer; if you after that you still can’t find it then feel free to email me and I will be happy to play a little game of “your getting hotter….your getting colder…..colder…”.
Work, Live, Tri