Friday, June 22, 2012

How To Prepare Your Triathlon Bike For Racing

One thing that I've learned from racing is that depending on the bike course, sometimes you need to change the way your bike prepared.

In other words, what works for one race may not work for the next.

Here's how my bike usually looks:

That's an aerobar mounted horizontal water bottle holder (the XLab Torpedo), with a hacked up Profile Design Razor designed to carry a bottle of electrolyte capsules (which I no longer use) and up to 10 gels. Click here if you want to read more about how I made this.

So my rationale for this type of race setup can be explained by an excerpt I wrote in a recent article in LAVA magazine:

"In fall of 2011, Cervelo engineers reported on their website a comparison of two options for aerobar mounted drinking systems - a system that hangs down vertically in front of the head tube and one that mounts a standard round bottle horizontally on the extensions between the arms. They found that the vertical bottle added some drag (depending on the system and shape of the head tube) - but still not as much as a standard fueling bottle mounted on the seat tube or down tube of the bike frame. The straw sticking up was the biggest problem with the vertical bottle.

In contrast, a standard bottle mounted horizontally between the rider’s arms on the aerobar actually filled in the turbulent area behind the hands and reduced drag significantly – making it faster than having no bottle at all!"

Here's a few close up shots:



Yesterday I did a bike course preview of Ironman Japan 70.3, which I'm racing tomorrow.

And it is freaking nuts.

-There are 112 90-degree turns and eight U-turns.

-The first 15K of the race is on tiny, bumpy, nearly single-track trails with a cliff on one side that precariously drops down into the ocean.

-Approximately 1 mile is the longest "stretch" in which you can be in the aero position without turning sharply onto a new road.

This totally screws the bike setup above, and here's why:

1. Big bumps can send gels flying if they're *anywhere* on your bike, including taped to your top tube, sitting in a bento box, or in my case, shoved into downtube mounted water bottle holder. So I would risk losing all my fuel with this setup.

2. An aerobar mounted water bottle holder is worthless if you're rarely in the aero position, and need to fumble with your aerobars to get the water bottle out. The more fumbling I do the less likely I'll pop out of the first 15K without a bunch of a riders on my tail.

So I made some changes, and here's how my bike looked when I racked it - a much cleaner front end, and a downtube mounted water bottle holder.

Of course, as an astute reader, you're probably wondering about where I'm putting the gels.

This is a simple fix, and one I've used before...

...the gels go in a ziplock bag stuffed into the swim-to-bike transition bag. I hop on my bike, grab the gels, and stuff them all into my right shorts leg within the first mile of the bike. When I need to eat, I grab a gel from the right leg and stuff the litter into the left leg.

Questions, comments or feedback? Leave them below! And be sure to track the race at if you want to see how I survive.

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