For triathletes, the race season is winding down. For most, that simply means the racing ends, and our training tapers off or we work on the specifics of the sport such as intensity, and skills and drills. During the fall and winter months, I always encourage triathletes to get out on their road bike. One suggestion I give during the off season is to keep your triathlon or TT bike on the trainer for shorter, intense rides, and do your longer outdoor rides on the road bike. Triathlon or Time Trial bikes are made for one thing – riding fast! While it is true that doing a bulk of your training on the same bike you will race on is important, some of the most well rounded triathletes also spend a lot of time on their road bike throughout the year. Don’t own a road bike? Consider purchasing one. These days you can get a really nice road bike for under $1,500.
Here are a few reasons why you might consider getting out on your road bike after your race season ends:
Get Social! – Group Rides
You might get mixed feedback on this, but unless clearly agreed upon ahead of time, it’s not cool to show up at a group ride with aero bars. This is largely due to safety since it is difficult to brake while in aero. The fall and winter months are a great time to get out for some group rides when the weather permits, and this is best done on a road bike. You will have better control on a road bike with other riders around you, and there is a social aspect of group rides that you just don’t get during the race season when you might be training solo or with smaller groups who have similar race goals.
Work on Your Bike Handling Skills
The “off season” is often a great time to work on bike handling skills and drills. If there is one criticism that triathletes sometimes get from other cyclists, it’s that we don’t have good bike handling skills. Having good bike handling skills as a triathlete undoubtedly makes you a better racer across all the disciplines in cycling – triathlon, on the track, criterium, time trial, and definitely road racing. In fact, in the USA Cycling (USAC) Level 2 coaching clinics, there is a heavy emphasis on learning and teaching bike handling skills with a full day of on-bike practical.
Comfort and Safety
Let’s face it, a lot of triathletes find their road bike a bit more comfortable. And as well respected pro triathlete Jordan Rapp points out in his blog “Why Triathletes Need a Road Bike”, the geometry and hip angle while in the drops on a road bike isn’t that much different than in aero on a time trial bike. This is the position in which you will generate the most power. Rapp concludes by saying “And, ironically, in these moments, were you riding a road bike, it would be your position on that bike that would be most similar to the position you aim to race your tribike in.” So why not take advantage of the comfort and safety of a road bike when you can?
And finally, there’s safety. As I said earlier, tribikes are made to go fast in a straight line, often on less technical terrain like the flats or rolling hills. Road bikes offer more of an opportunity for better handling and agility. I live in the Southeast where I can pretty much ride safety all year long. No extreme cold, or snow and ice on the ground. But in a large part of the country, cyclists do some outdoor riding with the possibility of snow and ice on the ground. And even when local communities do a good job keeping the roads clear, there is pea gravel to contend with. Road bikes simply provide a way have better control over your riding, descending, and climbing in less than ideal conditions.
There’s so much versatility in riding a road bike. From the social aspect of group rides, to handling and safety, it is clear how the road bike can help make us a well-rounded athlete. So if you want to train and race safer, and have a better bike split next season, show your road bike some love!