While there’s always a time and place for riding road bikes, if you have a tri bike then training in your TT position should be the norm, especially during triathlon season. What use is it to have a time trial bike if you can’t take advantage of the aero position?
Your bike fitter will tell you there is a tradeoff between the upright and time trial positions: while riding with your hands on the hoods allows you to breathe easy, your chest catches the wind resistance. The point of aero position is to present the smallest surface area possible to oncoming wind, but getting down too low can make breathing harder and also changes which muscles you use to push the pedals. The fitter works with you to find that happy balance of comfort, aero, and power.
A properly fitted TT position should allow you to stay comfortable down in the bars for long periods of time and still be able to push your pedals hard.
The strength to stay in the time trial position (which is a bit like doing a plank on your elbows) can be built in training. Resist the urge to sit up. You can stretch a bit to loosen up your back or shoulders if they get stiff, but try to get back in the TT position right away afterwards. I like to get up out of my saddle for 10 seconds max, then get back down into aero.
As a triathlete, you should still be in your TT position going uphill; this also allows you to deal with any headwinds. If your training grounds don’t have any hills or mountains, you can simulate this by staying down in the TT position and switching to your heaviest gears (“overgearing”) until you’re pedaling 50 to 55 rpm.
As a side benefit to training in aero going uphill, you’ll also be stronger when time trialling on flat courses.
If the race is on very hilly terrain though, there is benefit to training out of the TT position. On steep climbs, you will inevitably move out of aero position because you can push more power riding upright (and there’s no real aerodynamic benefit if you’re pedalling up at 9kph). Practice pedalling out of the saddle also.
Training in your time trial or aero position is very important to becoming comfortable in that position as well as getting faster bike splits due to the aero advantage. If you have it, use it!
(Header photo by Tony Pham on Unsplash.)
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