Struggling to find time for your triathlon training during the week? Fitting in one or two-hour bike rides into your life is tough if you think about it as one more activity. Instead, add bike commuting directly into your daily routine by using these five tips that will help you get to where you’re going in life and on the race course.
1 | Include interval rides on your daily commute
Your goal for interval bike rides on your commute is simple. Get 10 total minutes of intense biking time. It could be ten minutes all at once, a series of 1-minute sprints or five two-minute sprints. Make sure you use road cycling shoes so you don’t slip off the pedals.
Tip: Plan your route and schedule so you have time to shower and change before going into the office.
2 | Complete your over gear work
Towards the end of most races, cyclists tend to slow down. That happens because your muscles have not been conditioned to perform at a high level for long periods.
To prevent this problem, I recommend adding “over gear” work – a cadence of about 50-70 which is like strength training for cycling. To get this experience, change the gear settings on your commuting bike to force yourself to bike at a hard gear.
3 | Do your recovery ride on your commute
What if you only want to do one commute bike ride per week? You might be feeling tired from an intense weekend of running and swimming work, for example. In that situation, I encourage you to get in a lighter bike session during your commute.
A recovery ride increases blood flow allowing you to recover more quickly versus sitting in your car, train, or bus while you travel. Adding a recovery bike ride to your routine virtually “locks in” the progress you’re making on your other bike rides.
4 | Practice your bike handling skills
Imagine you are in a triathlon race right now. What do you see all around you? Hundreds of other people all cycling! To maintain your pace and avoid collisions, you need to be able to handle your bike effectively. Avoiding accidents is only part of the story however.
If you don’t know how to handle your bike correctly, you are going to lose a lot of time on race day. Ask yourself: can you keep your bike straight on the painted line on a road? If you swerve back and forth, you are adding more distance to your race.
Now you know why bike handling is essential; here is a simple exercise to practice. As you bike down the road, take one hand off the handle and touch your foot for a moment. Then repeat the process with your other hand. As you do this exercise, you will get more practiced at handling the bike in different situations.
You will find that you will be faster because you can keep your bike straight. That’s not all, however. You will also be able to reach down to grab your water bottle without losing your balance or swerving. Improved bike handling skills is one of the best ways to improve your race times without having to work your muscles harder.
5 | Recognize the limitations of commuting for training
Building your biking fitness takes time, including long rides. You have to hit your mileage each week to reach your training goals. For most people, there is no practical way to do a long ride as part of your commute. Instead, use this activity time to work on other areas like bike handling and interval work.
What Bike Should You Use For Commuting?
For your commuting, I recommend using a single-speed bike. They are workhorses! They are also easy to work with when mechanical issues come up. Recently, I assembled a single speed bike from the box in less than an hour. That’s great because you can easily disassemble your bike at the end of the training session and put it away. Your commute is already stressful enough! Don’t make it worse by using a complicated bike.
While you won't be able to use your bike commute for all your triathlon bike training, these time saving tips will help you get the most out of your bike commute to work. Ride safe!