Mastering the Bike Portion of Your Triathlon

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Mastering the Bike Portion of Your Triathlon

When I first entered the crazy world of triathlons, I was purely a runner. Running was my strength. No swimming, no biking, just running. I had a lot to learn. Fast forward 30 years, and now biking is my strength. I’ve worked hard to become the fastest cyclist I can be.

Remember, the bike is half the race in both time and distance, so working on this portion of the sport is super critical to becoming the fastest multi-sport athlete you can be. Here are a few tips to improve and nail the bike portion of your big race:

1. Find a Bike You Love

This may take a few seasons of testing different brands and models, but find that special one and stick with it. My go-to has been a Valdora, and it’s now 12 years old. I love her, and she loves me. We’ve been through battles together around the world, and she always performs beautifully.

2. Get a Fit

Back in the day, my first bike was made of chromoly steel, and I rode it in two Ironman races without ever getting a proper fit because no one told me I should. Talk about 112 miles of uncomfortable racing! GET A FIT!

3. Get Aero

Adding aerobars to your bike should be your first priority if you have a road bike. A good aero position can make a significant difference. Helmets, kits, and wheels can help, but aerobars are essential.

4. The Power is at the Bottom

Think “wipe and lift” when pedaling. At the bottom of your stroke, pull back like you’re wiping your shoes on a doormat. Then, “lift,” and your power will be distributed more evenly with each 180-degree stroke you take. With no added perceived effort, you’ll automatically be going ½ mph faster, and that adds up!

5. Shift Wisely

Keep your stroke rate around 90/minute. Anticipate gear shifts and shift up or down accordingly. If a big hill is coming up, don’t wait until it gets super hard to shift. Keep a smooth stroke going all the time.

6. Downhills are Free Speed

Take advantage of downhills! Don’t go faster than you’re comfortable for safe bike handling, but make sure to hammer the downhills.

7. Practice Mounting and Dismounting

We’ve all seen some funny (sort of) stuff happen at the mount/dismount lines—hopping, swerving, crashing, etc. Practice mounting and dismounting, especially if you’re leaving your shoes on the bike and getting your feet in them on the fly and out of them coming back in.

8. Train on a Similar Route

Train on a route similar to what the bike course is like for your next race or, for sure, your “A” race of the season. Hills? Do hill repeats. Turns? Ride a route with tons of them.

I’ve implemented these tips for many years now, and they’ve helped me a ton. There are other principles, of course, but this is enough for now. Ride safe and keep that rubber side down!

Lincoln Murdoch
Lincoln Murdoch
As an accomplished endurance athlete, Lincoln has been competing in running events for 40 years and racing in triathlons for 25 years. He is a 3x USAT National Champion, 14x USAT All-American and 3x ITU World Championships Top-Ten finisher. Lincoln is passionate about helping athletes meet their goals through books, online resources, coaching and motivational speaking. You can learn more at
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