My Achilles-heel in triathlon is the bike. It is the last of the three disciplines that I picked up and it has been the most challenging for me. I have found that the only way to get better on the bike is to ride it (well, duh!!!). But you have to ride a lot. Biking is time consuming and expensive. You can’t do it easily early in the morning (riding in the dark is not a good idea). So I have had a hard time getting in the time/miles needed to get better. But two things have helped me immensely.
First, I joined a Computraining class. Computraining is when you ride your bike on a special bike trainer that you can adjust the resistance by using a computer. What is special about this type of training is that it is all interval type work based off you own specific zones of exertion (we use P1-P5). When you start this training you do a lactate threshold test on the bike where they measure your lactate levels along with your hear rate and the watts you are pushing on the bike. You keep increasing the watts until you can no longer keep your cadence above 90. They use this data to give you a range of watts and heart rate to go with your exertion levels. You then use those levels to do the training (I hope that wasn’t too confusing). In a nutshell, it is well designed and extremely effective bike training that you can do with others and not be left behind. I experienced a lot of improvement in my biking as a result of these classes.
Secondly I joined a triathlon team, P5. What is great about the team is the opportunity it gives me to ride with people better than I. Nothing will make you a better rider than being the worst one out there! It gets kind of old being the one they are always waiting for when they regroup; or being the one that has to get pushed up the hill by the stringer riders. In addition to making you work hard, just having the opportunity to ride with a group of people really makes the time/miles more enjoyable.
So today we went for a group ride. It turned out to be a pretty big group. 20-25 people I think. We rode one of the routes we had done before when I first joined the team. Finally I could really see the progress I have made in the 7 months. No longer was I the last one to show up when we regrouped. On the hills that I had to be pushed up before, I was keeping up just fine with the pack. I could finally see how much stronger I had become on the bike. Since this is where I need to make the most improvement if I want to do better at my events; it was very helpful to see that my hard work has paid off.