Nowhere to hide! -by Brian Nath, Beginner to All-American Triathlete, Scottsdale, Arizona.
A few days ago I found myself out on the Sonoran Parkway putting in a solid hour at Tempo effort. On most days the parkway is the place to go when you want to lay down some focused training miles! 7.5 miles of smooth, fast, and uninterrupted pavement! It was still smooth and uninterrupted, but definitely not fast! The winds were whipping from all directions, but that wasn’t going to stop me from getting out there and doing my training.
I find it very interesting that in a sport like triathlon where you are meant to ride by yourself; that so many athletes ride with groups on a regular basis. I am not saying group rides are a bad thing, but when that is your only type of riding it definitely puts you at a disadvantage during a race.
I personally ride alone a lot for a few reasons. The first being there is nowhere to hide when the going gets tough! Too many times I hear athletes freaking out when the forecast calls for wind on race day. It doesn’t have to be that way!
When you are riding with a group and the wind picks up many athletes will duck in behind another rider and take advantage of the draft. If you are out to excel on race day then that is definitely not the thing you want to do. When riding alone you have no choice but to battle the wind. Not only will battling the wind teach you to handle your bike better, but it will make you mentally stronger! That way on race day when your competitors are on edge due to the conditions. You can think back on all those times you suffered alone and know you are well prepared. Below is a note from my coach on yesterdays workout.
“well done on keeping the wattage band smooth and flat. You are showing good cycling skills, Brian. I like it very much. Despite winds and some rollers your power output stayed constant. The winds are actually good training for St.George.” Coach Torsten Abel
I am more confident with my ability on race day when I can go out and execute a key workout in non optimal conditions. The second being that if you are going to race in the aero position you should train in the aero position! Your body needs to get used to that position, and you recruit different muscles when in aero. If you are riding with a group the only time you should be in the aero is if you are off the front. The rest of the time you should be sitting up and last time I check you don’t race your tri bike sitting up!
Like I said above riding with the group is not always a bad thing! Group rides definitely have a place in most athletes training regime. There is the social aspect, bike handling skills, and riding with a group can help push you at times.