38,8 km/h of average speed on a 10 km back and forth segment is what I performed the other day. Yes, it was a relatively flat segment with 25 meters up and down with neutral wind conditions. Not impressed? It was done with average watts of 218. The weight of the rider, bike and equipment was roughly 75 kg. I did not have a speed suit on, or even my aero helmet.
It was very good speed if looked at the effort. 218 watts is a pace I can hold for 10 hours and more, and my IM 70.3 Racepace is around 280 watts and 260 watts for a 180 km.
Someone will tell you that it is all about the engine, while others say aero is everything. None of the statements are true, because it is a combination of power output and aerodynamics. Weight is also a factor, but a less important one. I try to optimize my power output through correct training and what I do to optimize my aerodynamic is what going to be focused on further down this blog post.
The most important factor for good aerodynamics, and therefore should have the first and biggest focus is the riding position. A good bike position for triathlon should be:
- Enable a steady power output over time
- Not destroy your running legs
- Be “ridable” regarding safety
While TT-riders only need nr. 2 and 5, finding a good position for triathletes demands more. It can be quit hard finding the best position and while combination of a good bike fitter and a wind tunnel (not to forget a lot of time in the aero position), is the optimal you can come a long way with a really good bike fitter.
In 2013 I packed my bike and travelled from Norway to Southampton, to get my bike fit wind tunnel optimized. After that I have kept my position more or less the same, but after three bike changes, and a new saddle it was time for a new tune up. This article in Slowtwitch.com, explains how going from a normal saddle to a split-nose saddle (which I strongly recommend), may make you have to move your seat 4 – 8 cm back to keep your position similar(!). My re-check on my riding position I did with a new partner, Sykkeltilpasning, but more about that process will be subject in another blog post.
My bike position is a very good one. I have about 12 cm saddle – elbow drop, and a position, which is closer to a TT-position, then a typical triathlon-position. Still it is super comfortable and I can hold it for hours without end. I actually prefer aero position over the upraised position when it comes to comfort.
This is my position on race day. On thing is the actual position but I also have some thing I focus on while I am riding and they are:
- Activate the core to prevent my body going from side to side.
- Keep my head as low as possible without losing my vision completely (on a long highway stretch I ride with a lower head then on technical parts)
- Tuck my shoulders together; it actually makes me 5 cm narrower. That is tough for the shoulders but the swim is already done so no need to save those muscles.
There are definitely other very important factors for the aerodynamic like:
- Race setup
These will be subjects for future blog posts, but I will mention that your bike must be able to give you the optimal riding position. Many ride with wrong type and size of bike, especially small women can have difficult get a small enough bike.
Please keep follow my “fight against the wind” and my quest to become the most aerodynamic triathlete in the world. In collaboration with my sponsor Boardman Bikes we will bring you great insight and learn new things we will share with you all.