By: Dan Arnett
Head Coach – Endurance Concepts
Every athlete would like to see performance gains without spending hour upon hour grinding it out on the road. While the adage of “you don’t get something for nothing” will always hold true, it is possible to become a faster athlete with no additional work. The following ways will gain you time for minimal effort. Efficiency is the name of the game. These tips will make you more efficient, thus gaining you the free speed you need right away.
I have prioritized my list according to the best bang for your buck. Our sport is not cheap and budget is always a concern. So scrape together your pennies and let’s get faster…Now!
- Bike Fit
Cost: $100 – $300
This is the most overlooked way to gain free speed. If you cannot maintain an aerodynamic position for the duration of your race, then you are losing both speed and power. Most people feel uncomfortable in the aero position and the most likely reason for this is that they are not properly fitted to their bike.
You might have received a quick fit when you purchased your bike, but generally this is inadequate for the time you are about to spend in the saddle. If you did not spend close to an hour with a fitter, I would recommend doing so. Not only will you be more comfortable on your bike, which translates into more saddle time, but more aerodynamic and powerful as well. A good fitter will balance aerodynamics, power and comfort to blend them into a specific fit for you based on your physical limitations.
- Aero Helmet
Cost: $150 – $250
The most controversial piece of equipment in regards to fashion has to be the aero helmet. Many people dismiss it because they don’t want to look weird. Let’s look at this objectively. As triathletes we are wearing spandex, spilling gel on ourselves, all the while swimming, biking and running only to get to the same spot we started; but are worried about how a helmet looks?
An aero helmet will give you approximately the same time advantage as an aero front wheel for a fraction of the cost. Also, contrary to popular belief they are not hot and they do not always have to be exactly horizontal to be effective. Just like any other helmet, make sure the one you pick fits your head and is comfortable.
- AeroDrink and Bento Box
This may seem like an odd one to make the list, but here is my reasoning. Few would argue that the longer you can remain in the aero position, the more efficient you are. Since nutrition and hydration are essential during a race, it is beneficial to do them while in the aero position. An aero drink allows you to hydrate with minimal departure from your optimal aero positioning. Also, a bento box places your nutrition directly in front of you, which will also maximize your time in the aero position.
Since your hydration and nutrition are within sight the entire time, you will find it easier to remember to eat and drink. So that, as well, should improve your finish time.
So for a minimal cost, you can get the most out of your bike leg. While nothing replaces hard work, these are some inexpensive tips to help you gain some free speed in your next race. Happy Trails.