Triathlon cycling must be the second of the three Shakespeare witches – gnarled, ugly and capable of doing wicked things to your legs. Perhaps it’s because I feel like one of those ladies when I get off the bike – drooling, hunched, and capable of nothing faster than a painful shuffle.
The cycle leg in a triathlon comes after the swim, and before the run, so it serves as a sort of no-mans land, where you try to drink and eat as much as you can to set you up for the last bit, the run. The fact that you have to be able to do this at 30 km an hour while dodging other cyclists, abandoned water bottles and spectators’ dogs just adds another layer of entertainment. Despite this, I quite enjoy the cycle – I mean, you get to sit down, how good is that? Getting sufficiently fit for such a thing – and the event I’m aiming for, a half-ironman, has a 90km cycle – takes a little while. I confess to being a nervous bicycle rider these days, so a fair amount of training time happens on the stationary trainer in the garden shed, just so I don’t have to deal with disintegrating roads and jostle with Christchurch motorists. Strange then, I used to fearlessly cycle around London as a younger man, but maybe this is wisdom coming from my advancing years.
If you’re on a similar journey to my own, I would point you towards two books mentioned in an earlier blog, Triathlon Science by Joe Friel, and Triathlon For Masters And Beyond by Ian Stokell. They both have good sections devoted to cycling fitness; there are other titles as well that cover much the same ground. As an – ahem – older person, I have to say that stretching is also an important thing, for me anyway. I find that I don’t need to stretch before I start exercising – people, I exercise slow! But if I don’t stretch afterwards, on the following day I feel like I’ve run a marathon. If you find you have the same issues, I can recommend a read of Anatomy, Stretching and Training for Cyclists, edited by Lisa Purcell, and also The Complete Guide to Stretching by Christopher Norris. No doubt a yoga class would help, if only I had the time.
If you need some general reading around cycling and how to do it better, the library provides access to a range of magazines about cycling specific magazines in print and electronic form. You’ll need a valid library card and a password/PIN to access the electronic ones. You can also find more cycling resources on our cycling page.
For more about Colin’s triathlon endeavours and some reading suggestions, check out our other triathlon blog posts.