In terms of time, the bike leg of almost any triathlon dominates the others. In an Olympic distance event, the bike will likely take almost twice as long as the run and three times as long as the swim. Consequently, many triathletes’ training regimen reflects this with very high biking volume relative to the swim and run. A glance at the user training logs at Slowtwitch confirms this.
However, I do not subscribe to this — not yet anyway. My training this summer had nearly equal parts swim and run, with biking getting whatever was left over. I did this for two reasons.
- Swimming is my weakest leg compared to the best triathletes. My future success in draft-legal triathlons hinges on how much I can improve in the swim, not the bike.
- I still have a year left of collegiate running and that is still my #1 focus. It is imperative that I kept my mileage high with my last cross country season on the horizon.
Now that I have downplayed my bike training, here is what I did do. With the little bike background I have, I figured anytime on the bike will lead to improvements. With this in mind, I made sure to get in a long bike ride every weekend, working my way up to ~60 miles. After I got my post-work swim in on Mondays, I would get on the trainer for about an hour to do some “tempo” intervals — generally with 8′ hard/4′ rest as the main focus of the session. Thursdays and Fridays I would ride 20-30 miles by feel in the late afternoon after running and swimming earlier in the day.
With this training load I was able to split the 15th fastest bike split at the Breath of Life triathlon on my 2003 Trek 1500 road bike (23.7 mph average) and the 5th fastest bike split at the Strawberry Fields tri on a friend’s Quintana Roo TiPhoon (~25.7 mph average).
Trying to break into professional draft legal triathlons presents a bit of a paradox. In order to earn a USAT elite license to race in ITU draft legal races, you need to qualify at nondrafting events by placing in a certain position overall or within a percentage of the winner’s time. To be competitive with the top athletes in these races, you will likely need a time trial or triathlon specific bike and maybe even an aero helmet. However, once you get into draft legal racing, you won’t be able to use any of this aero equipment.
Because earning an elite license is next up on my triathlon goals, I am now in the market for a tri bike. I have time on my side, as my next tri won’t be until Summer 2011, so right now I am scanning the classifieds for a potential buy. What I am looking for is a quality bike that is a few years old and lightly used so that I can save a few bucks. If you know of a bike for sale that fits the bill, let me know!