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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