Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cycling Training for the Triathlon is more like a rollercoaster ride!

With about 1 month to go before my first triathlon, I’d like to recount the highlights and lowlights of my first couple months of training. To give my loyal reader/s a little background, I am somewhat athletic and coming in to this quest I was in decent shape but not great shape.  I’ve played many sports and the scouting report on me is that I’m decent at most sports, but not good in any of them! Before committing to this triathlon, my normal workout regime was a weekly hockey game. Skating hard for an hour sounds like a great workout, but the post-skate beverages usually wipe out any aerobic benefits!

Training on the bike has been incredibly exciting. About a month into my training, I was able to obtain a used Cannondale from a coworker. My splits immediately shot up and I gained so much more confidence in my cycling. After starting out with 12 mile workouts, I quickly shot up to 19 mile rides and I now max out at about 23. Physically, I feel like I could do much more (maybe even double this distance) but free time to work out is just as big of a barrier for me as physical limitations.

After a couple of weeks on the bike, I made the decision to buy cycling outfits. I was getting tired of baggy shorts getting caught on my seat. Between my shorts and shirt, I felt like a small parasail because of all the wind resistance I generated. After seeing the prices of cycling outfits at bike stores, I decided to scour eBay for decent deals. Within a few I purchased a few outfits…all of them sporting European clubs and nation names. That is the history geek in me! If you see a ‘Euro rider’ flying around the roads of the Merrimack Valley, that’s just me!

In my 3rd month of training I decide to outfit my bike with clip pedals. My loyal cycling shop owner warns me that it’s a rite of passage with clip pedals-you are gonna wipe out. Great! My cycling initiation awaits! I’m fired up for my first ride with the new clips and cycling shoes. I take off on my regular route and I notice the burn in my legs is at a slightly different spot. I come to a couple of stops and successfully unclip the shoes. So far, so good!

On the final quarter of my workout, disaster strikes. I come to a stop at a large bridge. I’m at a complete stop, waiting for the light to change. I’m in a good spot; I have plenty of room to maneuver and to start cycling again. The light turns green and I push off. As I try to force my free foot into the clip, my shoe slips right past the clip and into my front tire and….POP! Flat tire! My first flat while out on a workout. I am only 3 miles from home and my wife packs up the girls and quickly picks me up. Tube repair kit you may be asking? Of course not. I’m not that skilled yet! Thankfully, my wife arrives quickly and brings me home. My bike shop is only another mile away and my guy fixes the flat within minutes so I will be back in business tomorrow!

The next couple of days are swim and run workouts so I make another trip to the bike shop to buy a tube repair kit with all the accessories. I’ll be damned if this happens again! The next day, I jump on the bike again and I’m 2 miles into my ride going through a construction area (by another bridge!) and all of a sudden my OTHER tire goes flat! I pull over and what do you know…I haven’t put the repair kit into my bike bag yet,it’s still in my garageL

2rides in a row and 2 flats! The only good news is that this flat is right by UMass-Lowell so there are some benches, I am close to home and a quick pick-up, and I have my iPhone to make a call. So glad I have the phone…it was supposed to be for tunes, but the rest comes in handy!

After another quick repair and a couple of off days, I’m back on the bike. I’ve come to the decision that I need to change up my training. I had been training on the flattest route imaginable. Up and down the Merrimack River. Mostly along the route of the Bay Marathon. I need more hills, hills, hills. I tinker with my route and the benefits are many. Tougher workouts and new sights give me a new energy. Why did it take me a couple of months to try new routes? Not too sure but I make a vow to regularly mix things up.

Overall, I’ve learned a few things from my cycling training. 1-Get off my butt and learn how to change a flat. I’ve had 2 chances at different bike shops to learn this and I said I didn’t have the time! Ouch! 2- Carry the extra tube and repair materials with you on your ride! Pretty basic stuff, eh? 3- Keep mixing up your training routes. It is nice to be riding on comfortable routes, but you should give yourself many different options!

Next up- training for the run and the…gulp, swim!


  1. I use to play hockey as well, body took such a pounding between that and football and had to "retire", thus found the great sport of triathlon.

  2. Welcome to tris! You are going to love it.

    I've been taught how to change a flat at least 4-5 times. Still have yet to do it! My plan is to sit on the side of the road and wait for a nice person to come help me (or my husband to pick me up, whichever comes first). :)