Getting Started

Written by: Coach Jeremy Sipos

Triathletes tend to get a bad reputation when it comes to cycling and cycling skills.  Since most triathletes typically learn to ride a time trial bike, they don’t get to spend a lot of time honing their skills, and realistically, it doesn’t take a lot of skill to ride a time trial bike.  That doesn’t mean that cycling skills wouldn’t benefit most triathletes.  In fact, most triathletes would benefit tremendously in both safety and speed by learning the basics of bike handling and applying those basics to their riding.  One skill that will help any triathlete or cyclist is easily getting started on the bike from a standstill.  This skill can be used on your favorite group ride when starting at a stop light or when you start up at the mount line of your next race.

The basics of learning this skill are as follows.  If you are standing over straddling your bike, one foot should be clipped in.  When I do this, I have my left foot clipped into the pedal.  That foot should be at the nine o’clock position or the crank arms should be parallel to the ground.  When you are ready to start, grab the handle bars and put all of your weight on the foot that is clipped in.  It can also help to slightly pull the knee/foot of the leg that is clipped into the pedal back towards you right before you start.  Right after you stand up lift the other foot and start pedaling.  Some things that will help you master this skill:

  • Before you try this, make sure you have shifted into the right gear.  It might take some experimentation to find the right gear, but you don’t want to be in too hard a gear or you won’t be able to get moving and will fall over when you try to start pedaling, and you don’t want to be in too easy of a gear or you won’t actually go anywhere when you do start pedaling.
  • Do not try to clip in with the other foot until you are up to speed.
  • Start pedaling immediately after starting even with one leg if you have to.
  • Lift the other leg up and off the ground as soon as you stand.  Don’t try to push off with the foot on the ground.

Although this seems like a relatively basic skill, it’s one that can make starting up in a group ride or among other people at a race safer.  Once you’ve mastered this, you can practice more difficult variations like starting on an uphill.

Endurance Concepts is an Atlanta-based triathlon coaching firm that motivates athletes of all levels to achieve their goals without sacrificing critical aspects of their lives such as careers, family and social events.

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Kelly’s Race Report – TTP Blalock Lakes Sprint

I finished my first sprint triathlon on June 1 and it was actually great!  The Wednesday before the race, Savannah was kind enough to meet me to do an open water swim.  When we first got in the water, I definitely freaked out a little bit, but Savannah stuck right next to me and I got through it after about 20 strokes.  We practiced sighting a little bit and she tried to help me learn to breathe on the right, but it was a little difficult for me.  Apparently in most triathlons buoys are on the right, but we figured we would practice this more later. We then went over some tips on transition and what I needed to bring on race day.  I left feeling much more confident about being able to accomplish the race on Saturday.   I really don’t believe that the race would have gone so smoothly if Savannah had not been sweet enough to meet me.

Race day I got up around 5:00 to make sure I could get to Blalock lakes by 6:30.  The drive was super easy and I got there much sooner than expected.  I quickly got my bike and everything set up in transition.  When I got there I looked out to the lake and they were putting the buoys out.  I was amazed at how close they were!  I truly was expecting the swim to feel very far out.  And to my surprise it was a counterclockwise swim so all of the buoys were on the left!  It was almost like this race was meant for me!

Start time for the first group was at 8 am.  I started with the novice, aqua bike, and relay swimmers at about 8:21.  I was very nervous so I stood behind all of the other swimmers at the start.  I quickly realized that was a mistake.  I had to stop multiple times to let people get ahead and move to the left to keep from running into people.  I finally got through and got into a good rhythm.  I had in my head that I was going to look for the buoys every 5-10 strokes, but I didn’t because I didn’t like how it took me out of my rhythm.  Because of that I swam out of the way a few times and had to swim back.  I will not make that mistake next time.  I made it out of the water in 16:05.  Almost 3 minutes faster than I expected!

Transition was really close and easy and I got in and out of there in 1:08.

My heart rate was really high coming up from the swim and I had a hard time getting it under control on the bike, but I pushed through it as best I could in the bike portion.  The ride was very hilly, but I had biked lots of hills around my house so I felt prepared for them.  I was able to pass quite a few people and it fueled my desire to push faster.  Eating and drinking on the bike was so hard!  I need to practice that more.  I finished the 14.7 mile bike in 52:12.

Transition was easy here too and I got in and out in 1:04.

The first mile of the run felt really hard.  I don’t know how fast I was going, but it really didn’t feel like I was going faster than 9:30-10 min/mile.  After the first mile it (finally!) occurred to me that I should practice controlling my breathing (3 in, 2 out) and once I did that I got my breathing under control and was able to pick up the pace.  I finished the 5k in 26:22.  Slower than I was hoping for, BUT, I finished the race in 1:36:54.  8+ minutes faster than I anticipated!!!  To top it all off, I ended up getting 2nd in the novice category.  It was pretty amazing.

Next I’m doing the duathalon at Blalock lakes on June 22.  I feel very ill prepared for this one because I haven’t given myself (or my coach Savannah) enough preparation time for this race.  It’s a 5k, 24 mile bike, and a 10k.  It’s going to be much hotter and much tougher.  After I get through this, though, I’ll be well prepared for the tanner park intermediate distance!

By Kelly Rothwell ~ TTP Scholarship Winner

Tri The Parks – Blalock Lakes Sprint Race Report

Blalock Lakes Sprint

Written by Chris Abellana ~ TTP Scholarship winner


Time to wake up!  Its race day and in a few short hours I will be racing at Blalock Lakes in Newnan, GA.  I really have no expectations from the race other than I know the course will be hilly and I am not fond of hills.  I don’t know about y’all but when I hear hills, it strikes some uneasiness into my gut, my legs get weak, and I know that it’s going to be a long day.  I don’t know why but it just does.

My week of training has been decent but I have been training for longer distances so transitioning to sprint distances, is a very big shift not only in the mental but the physical endurance.  There is no more long and strong; it will be short and fast; real fast, if I am lucky.


Sitting out in front of the gate at Blalock Lakes and begin to mentally prepare for the race and going over the bike and run maps in my mind.  I know where the climbs are going to be but like I said earlier, this is a sprint and not a half or full Iron distance so I am going to need to push it pretty good but still saving something for the road.


Bike is in transition area now and I’m listening to Eminem’s “Till I Collapse”.  It reminds me that my mind can go further than my body so get that in the right state first and then my body will follow (hopefully).  All my shoes, helmet, sunglasses, socks are now in place for T1 so let’s get on a warm-up run.  Wow, this place is hilly.


Warm-up swim. Water feels good- not too warm, not too cool- concentrating on good, strong hip turn, and good cadence with my arms.

08:00am RACE Start…

Here we go. [Mind you, I am talk to myself a lot so you will hear what I see and say to myself during the entire race.] And we’re off! My goodness, this guy to my left couldn’t keep it straight if he had a blue line at the bottom of the lake! Whoa, those first 100 meters were kind of messy!  Making the 2nd turn and heading down the home stretch and I took it way too far left- gotta head back right.  Perfect, let’s add more distance to this race! J

T1 and Bike…

Thankfully this has one of the shortest distances from water to bike that I have ever experienced.  Socks, shoes, and helmet on and we’re off on the bike.  Going out, hills. Settling into race pace, and I feel good. Race officials come along side to make sure I am keeping my distance so I smile and say thanks for keeping us safe!  Middle part- hills. During this part of the race, I begin to not think about the race, but about how Blessed I am to be racing!  We have a gorgeous day, a dry road and a lot of great athletes to race against. Last bit – downhill. Gotta love this part.  Rounding the corner into the park and nothing but downhill.

T2 and Run…

Change shoes, bib # on, and I am off.  Man, my calves are a little tight.  I hope I don’t cramp up.  Did that Smith kid just pass me on his way in?!!! Wow he was fast!  Ok, focus now.  The first part of the run was not good.  I just didn’t feel good.  In the turnaround and half way home now.  I begin to pick up the pace knowing its only 1.55 miles from the finish.  My calves are ok now and I see my pace getting closer to where I need it to be.  I hit the finish and record a time of 1:22:47.5 (11:53 on the swim, 43:55 on the bike, and 25:00 on the run).  Not bad but I know I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Wednesday, June 5

I have a two mile critical velocity test, and I look at the schedule of my workouts and see a drastic difference b/w what I did on my own vs. what I am doing with Coach Mariska and Team EC.  On my own, I would go out on a swim, bike, or run and do it to get it done.  Now, I have specific drills that will test my endurance, work on technique, and reinforce good form vs. just mileage.  As a former coach myself, I can see how these drills are the building blocks to my improvement.  The drills are definitely more intense than my former workouts but then again, the focus was very different; nonetheless, these drills can begin to change not only the physicality but also the mentality at which I perceive and execute my workouts.  This will in turn get me faster and better as a triathlete.

My next race is July 20th at Mistletoe State Park, and knowing that I have 7 weeks of these kinds of workouts, I am very excited to see how much I will progress.