There are many rules of etiquette used in cycling to keep athletes safe while riding in groups. These rules don’t always translate to a group of triathletes riding together. Here are some ideas to help make your next ride safe and effective.
#1: Give ’em Space
Whats the difference between a road bike and a triathlon bike? Some may say the seat tube angle, others may point toward the aerodynamic tubing, but the major difference is that a triathlon bike doesn’t have brakes. Okay, it may have brakes but they are far out of reach in an emergency.
Not only is 3 bike lengths the legal spacing for USAT races, it is also a safe distance to ride while in the aero position. So, next time you and your other aerobar wielding buddies get on the open road, give each other some space. Not only will this help keep you safe, it will make you stronger and better prepared to race legally.
#2: Eyes Up
Often times, the aggressive position of triathlon bikes makes it difficult to comfortably see up the road. As with anything in life, you have to see where you’re going to navigate safely. Keep your head in a comfortable, aerodynamic position and shift your line of sight just ahead of the rider in front of you. You should be continuously looking ahead and around for any potential hazards. Remember, your response time is far greater on a triathlon bike so you must stay aware at all times!
#3: Road Hazards
It is common practice among road cyclists to point toward hazards in the road. For triathletes using their aerobars, this can be especially dangerous. Rather than removing a hand from your controls, make an obvious movement around the hazard. Conversely, when your triathlon buddy swerves, it is wise to follow their path.
#4: Water Bottle Launchers
As triathletes, we’re obligated to carry at least four water bottles on every ride. Many of the rear mount bottle holders don’t adequately retain bottles over bumpy roads. Your water bottles are your responsibility so make sure they’re secure. You don’t want to lose your nutrition and the riders behind you don’t want to lose their teeth when they hit your errant bottle. If you need to use a rear mount bottle holder, don’t use a flimsy, lightweight carbon variety. Instead, go for a lightweight, secure variety like the Profile Design bottle cage. It will save you money and keep your friends safe.
#5: Push Through
It is natural to have ebbs and flows in your power output on the bike. When riding in a group, it may seem problematic to pass but this is your opportunity to practice your positioning skills. Envision yourself in a race and access your body. If you feel that you’re capable of making the pass, push through. Following the USAT rules and the guidance set forth in #1 (Give ’em Space), the rider which you passed should fall back. These surges may seem like undue effort but they will prepare you for the pushing your body on race day.