For most triathletes, beginners and even some veterans ask this question, “How can I get faster on the bike?”. Many triathletes come from a running background and riding a race bike is a new experience for them. Unlike running, riding a bike can be a bit intimidating at first. With cycling, there is a lot more science behind getting better & faster than running.
In this post, I am not going to talk in details about effective training methods, periodization, power meter numbers, etc. I will just layout the groundwork, and you can learn from there as you go.
1- Bike Trainer: Get a good bike trainer. Seriously, don’t be cheap here. Just like everything else, you get what you pay for. I personally enjoy training on my Inside Ride Emotion trainer. It provides everything I need from true road feel, wireless resistance control, and ability to pair with any training software. It also can be intimidating for many since you are riding basically on rollers.
My next recommendation is Wahoo KICKR. The KICKR quickly took over the smart trainer industry. It’s easy to setup and can be paired with any training software out there such as Zwift or Trainer Road. The KICKR runs around $1,200.
You can also, get Wahoo KICKR Snap. The Wahoo KICKR Snap provides similar functionality as the its big brother the KICKR but without having to remove the rear wheel. It’s also cheaper, $699.
2- Trainer Road: I’ve talked about Trainer Road before in a previous post. If you are not going to spend money on a coach, then Trainer Road is your next best option. They provide training plans for cyclists and triathletes. Also, if you don’t have a power meter yet, then Trainer Road will convert your speed from your trainer into what’s called a Virtual Power. This number isn’t your true power, but it can be close. Plus, a smart trainer will also do something similar and can transmit your power numbers into Trainer Road. If you want to get faster, I highly, highly, recommend Trainer Road. ** I have no affiliation with Trainer Road what so ever.
3- Train indoors: The weather isn’t perfect all year. Plus, for time crunch triathletes, training indoors in most cases is your only option and will allow you to train all year. A good trainer and Trainer Road will make training indoor a lot easier and more enjoyable.
4- Get a Power Meter: Simply, if you want to get faster, train with power. A power meter, will convert your efforts on the bike into power numbers. Once you figure out your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), and set your power zones, you can start training smart and get faster. If you want to read more about training with power, I highly recommend the book Training & Racing With a Power Meter by Andrew Coggan. Trainer Road will help you setup your FTP and all your zones.
5- Consistency: Getting faster isn’t going to happen over night or in one season. There is no magic pill. The effort you put daily, weekly, monthly and year over year will make you a better and faster cyclist. It will not happen, if you only train outside and take a day off when it’s cold or raining. You need to train all year long. There is really no off season. You will have days off and a week or two off to recharge, but that’s all part of a good training plan.
6- Equipment: After you built the engine, don’t discount equipment selection. Aero does matter in cycling. You want to convert every Watt into speed. Take a look at your wheels, helmet, clothing, and keep your drivetrain clean. All the little things add up and you can save a lot of minutes.
Finally, training will never get easier. You will just get faster, and learn to suffer more.