The triathletes mantra is everything aero. We buy aero helmets, aero wheels, aero frames, wear tight clothes because they are aero, many of us even have aero drink bottles. We epitomize the Team Sky Race Director, Sir Dave Brailsfords’ now infamous “Marginal Gains”.
As I rode home the other day, I turned from CO52 onto 95th and got caught by the wind, it was blowing really hard from the west. Ahead of me were a couple of cyclists, you could see they were battling to stay upright as the wind blew across the fields and caught them square on. Before we got to Lookout I’d passed both of them. They both could have helped themselves in the wind by being more aero.
Once on Lookout, heading east, with the wind to my back I could see another cyclist ahead, and soon doing 45MPH, I passed him too, and yes, he too could use some help even though he was going fast. So here are my bike aero do’s and don’ts.
DON’T: Ride with your elbows locked. There is almost never a good reason to ride with your elbows locked. If you do the road vibrations travel straight to your neck and upper back causing fatigue.
DO: Soften your elbows. Bending at the elbows reduces your height, and helps flatten out your back
DON’T: Ride with your palms on the brake hoods.
DO: Ride with your hands back from the hoods, soften your elbows, keep your head up
DON’T: Ride sitting up, elbows locked, just because the wind is at your back!
DO: Use your drops, or if you are comfortable, lean on your handlebars, again soften your elbows, and if you have a traditional long nose bike seat, shift forward.
DON’T: Let your limbs stick out. No matter which way the wind is blowing, or even if there is no wind, let your elbows and knees stick out.
DO: Soften your elbows, keep your arms tucked in, and keep your shoulders narrow.
DON’T: Attack hills from the bottom! There is nothing worse than “blowing-up” two thirds of the way up the hill.
DO: Pace yourself, nobody ever says I could have taken that hill faster! Use your gears wisely, don’t run out straight away.
DON’T: Battle up a hill in the same bike position.
DO: Make use of all the muscle groups. As a triathlete, you have to run off the bike. Again, traditional saddle? Slide back on the saddle, move your hand to the middle of the bars, don’t forget to soften the elbows.
Finally, use those gears. Remember, cycling is about motion, not muscle.