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Wheels…What Wheels?

February 7, 2012

The goal of every triathlete (after finishing) is to go as fast as they possibly can.  That is why triathletes are known as tech junkies willing to try just about anything to knock off a few seconds here and there.  If someone made a statement that if your sewed your toes together to make webbed feet it would make you faster, I guarantee someone would try it. That is why bikes boast of more aero positions, lighter weight, integrated stems.  Wetsuits cost $1,200 dollars and running shoes can weigh as little as 5 ounces.

I have to admit, I am a tech junkie and am always looking for ways to improve each discipline- although I am far from the extreme.  I say this tongue in cheek because I just purchased a set of 85 clincher wheels from Hawk-Racing.   All of their wheels are made in Bradenton, FL and can be shipped out within days.  Not that I would try to sway someone to purchase anything- I always recommend trying equipment before committing to a purchase whether it be a suit, shoes, bike or wheels.  Everything fits people differently  I have very high arches in my feet so running shoes that work for me will not work for others.

The above photo is of the wheels (only will have red stickers on them).  I cannot wait to try them out at my first race in Clermont, FL at the end of March.  Although since the course is very hilly I may not realize their true effect until Ironman Florida 70.3 in May.

Back to my original point, I posted a few weeks ago about which M’Dot races suit certain body types, well the same goes for wheels as well.  Ironman posted an interesting article about which wheels suit which courses the best(Ironman).  Many know that Kona is known for its winds and heat.  Disc wheels provide the “fastest” wheel setup, but it would be counter productive as an athlete will utilize more energy trying to keeping the bike upright (and were deemed illegal at Ironman World Championships and IM Cozumel).

The deeper the wheel base, the heavier the wheels will be so when competing on courses with more climbing it would be beneficial to ride a wheel that has the consistency of a Zipp 404 or Reynolds Assault.  Interestingly enough a Zipp 404 was used by 60 percent of the athletes in Kona.

With that being said, there is no substitution for the horsepower found in your legs.  Wheels may take off seconds but strong legs will shave minutes and help your run as well.  I always try to work a few speed sets in each week.  My normal cadence is 85-90, during these sprint sets I will try to keep the cadence around 105-110 and push as large a gear as I can.  For novices, try doing 5 sets of 1 minute sets with 2 minutes of spinning between.  I usually try to do intervals of 4-5 minutes at a time.  I will work these in after 30-45 minutes of cycling to ensure my legs are warmed up.  You want to ensure that while doing these you are keeping your form correct, you do not want to compromise form for cadence.  To vary your routine a bit especially if you are riding a trainer try doing  race pace intervals in the middle of your workout.  Five sets of five minutes at race pace.  This means you are turning the gear you would during a race and pushing yourself to help increase your speed and endurance.  After a while you will notice that you can turn a larger gear for an extended period of time.

Another thing I like to do on the trainer is simulate hills.  I will put the tension up pretty high and get out of the saddle and try to sprint up climbs- I will keep my cadence between 85-90 while doing this.  Being in FL I am a relatively bad climber compared to triathletes from hillier parts of the country so I do what I can to help close that gap.

Does anyone have any favorite cycling workouts they would like to share?

It is all about finding your comfort zone and then pushing beyond that to create new thresholds.  We all have the ability to go harder and longer, just need to find it within you.

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