A cyclist at the Shock Absorber Women's only triathlon 2012
Six weeks into my training schedule - and although I was due to race this weekend, I ended up pulling out with a (completely non-training-related) injury. I was actually devastated because I'd spent so much time pysching myself up for the big day, made all the necessary transport arrangements and even paid visits to the bike shop, purchasing water-bottle holders and such accoutrements. Oh well - I'll have to carry on training a bit longer before my moment of glory.
I’ve been cycling as my main mode of transport for just under two years now, and as a freelancer, put in anything between 2 and 24 miles a day on my trusty bike. However, the minute you start cycling in anything like a sporty context – none of this matters.
You’re now classed as a ‘commuter cyclist’ – a second class citizen, who's one notch above someone who admits the furthest they walk is to the fridge – and you probably don’t have any of the kit. Even if you own a pair or two of stretchy pants, they’re probably not the kind that are padded around the bum and what about cleats? Those clippy-cloppy shoes that clip into the bit of the bike where the pedals (purely for amateurs) might otherwise be. You almost certainly don’t have either of those.
transition section or 'T1' at the Shock Absorber Women's only triathlon 2012
Well. It’s true. My bike was especially selected by me, off Gumtree with the express intention that it wouldn’t be too attractive to London’s army of bike thieves and well, although my tyres might be quite a bit wider and less aerodynamic than those of a slinky racer – or road bike, as they’re called – I maintain that they’re far less likely to get a puncture from all the broken glass on Shoreditch High Street. The closest that I have to cycling shoes are some trainers I wear in order to not be pedalling in my wedges.
So now having checked my trusty training schedule from my trainer at RG Active – I’m cycling more than regularly enough for the schedule – there are just one or two long cycles per week. In order to cope with this I’ve replaced my run on Saturday mornings with a combined cycle and run – or BRICK training. (more of this later)
This is me cycling over a windswept bridge in the park. Obviously I should be wearing a helmet
I’ve started cycling laps around my local park as I’ve wised up to the fact that even if I criss-cross the city from Hackney to the V&A (over 20 miles round trip) I’m spending a lot of time sitting still at traffic lights and this isn’t proper training. I’m surprised to find how tiring cycling continuously is compared to the stop/start and start cancelling my night-time fun schedule in order not to miss any of my Saturday sessions. I cheer myself up with the thought that the course at Eton Dorney is very nice and smooth and flat.
Tips for cycling in a triathlon – do some practice laps in the park or off the road on a track somewhere, so you can measure how far you are going. And two – get kitted out. If you are chosing a bike specifically for the event then go for a racer – although mountain bikes and hybrids are fine too. You will need a proper helmet – because if yours is damaged or doesn’t fit - the race day marshalls can ban you from racing. Those funny lightweight sunglasses, some gloves unless its summer and maybe some padded-bum shorts or tri-suit. You'll also need an on-the-go puncture repair kit, although I don't like talking about these because the thought of getting a puncture makes me go a bit funny.
Giro Transfer bike helmet, Shimano cycling shoes, Carrera Zelos woman’s road bike, Craft Womens Active bike shorts,
CamelBak Podium Chill water bottle and Yellow Jersey sunglasses all at Halfords.com
Okay - here's a sneaky other tip. This was not advised to me by my trainer, I just made it up myself. When doing the longest distance cycles I put my iPod on - it's very much not allowed on race day - and you definitely shouldn't cycle round the roads with your headphones on, but I found it really useful to help me get through the miles on the longer practices and also encouraged my legs to keep going fast when I felt fatigued. Whereas I like to listen to euphoric dance music or some kind of funky house when running, I discovered indie rock to be far more beneficial for pedalling - don't ask me why. Something like Wolfmother is perfect.
Last tip - you need a water bottle. Even for an hour cycle practice, it gets very thirsty out there, let alone when the weather is in its current scorching state.