Using standalone cycling races to improve your skill on two wheels
Using standalone cycling races to improve your skill on two wheels

Using standalone cycling races to improve your skill on two wheels

Using standalone cycling races to improve your skill on two wheels

Today on The Kona Edge, Riana Robertson shares the importance of riding on the road in bunches. She emphasises the skills and bike awareness you can learn from other cyclists to improve on your Ironman Bike.

Riana also reveals the benefits of using a Power meter and Trainer software on this edition of  The Kona Edge.

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BRAD BROWN: A returning guest, from Pretoria in South Africa. Riana Robertson joins us now.

Riana in our last chat about the swim you spoke about approaching the swim sets with a goal and an outcome for each one of your swim sets. Do you approach the bike in the same way? Is there always an outcome to every session you do on the bike?

Goals to improve weaknesses on your Ironman bike

RIANA ROBERTSON: Definitely. It’s always based on a goal that needs to be achieved. Obviously the sessions, whether it’s swim, bike or run, it’s obviously to improve those little weaknesses. But yes, definitely.

BRAD BROWN: As far as your bike goes, out of the 3 disciplines, swim, bike and run, where would you rate it out of the 3?

RIANA ROBERTSON: I think my cycling is the strongest at the moment. Or it used to be the strongest for me. Never grew up cycling, but it just gels for me. Also, I was privileged to cycle the Bestmed Female Ladies team last year. Which is completely different cycling to Ironman racing. But the cycling for me is definitely, I think, one of my best ones.

RIANA ROBERTSON: We touched on swimming with strong swimmers in our last chat and you mention racing, proper road cycling, not in a triathlon. We’ve had a guest on here before, Lisa Rencheddo who is a professional cyclist and almost in her triathlon off-season. She’s racing bikes across the world and then in her cyclical season she raced triathlon and we’ve seen a few, and particularly on the ladies side. I think of the likes of Emma Pooley as an example.

Cycling is a different sport like you rightly say. But gee, you can get some big benefits out of it for triathlon.

Riding in bunches teaches your bike awareness

RIANA ROBERTSON: Oh yes you can. But I meant for me, the pace that you learn to ride in a group or in a bunch is completely different than your steady low type of cycling. And the juniors that I work with coaching, I’m actually encouraging them to do cycling races so they can get used to learning from the cyclists.

I think that was the biggest thing. Learning from cyclists. Where to conserve energy, where to push, where to move around. And also getting a perception of space for you. The juniors that I work with we encourage them to do that. We work it into their program so that they do cycling races. They become aware of where people in front of them are. How does attacking work, how is it structured?

Remember, they have a draft legal race which is obviously more competitive so I really encourage them to do that.

BRAD BROWN: But even saying that Riana, I know as well, not that I’m a competitive cyclist, but I’ve got a couple of decent performances on the bike. Even though an Ironman is non-drafting, just the skills and bike awareness you learn from riding in bunches that are moving. It helps you a lot in the sport of triathlon.

RIANA ROBERTSON: I’ve had a few athletes that I work with as well that sit on the indoor trainer. I’m a big fan of the indoor trainer don’t get me wrong. But they do all their sessions on an indoor trainer. Monday through to Sunday.

Learn to conserve energy on your Ironman bike with a power meter

When they get out on the road they’ve got no idea how to handle a speed bump, how to go around a corner, or is it safe? How does the gravel impact your turning abilities? How to stand when you’re climbing, how to sit in a bunch? And that’s one of the first things we try and fix to get them to be more aware about their conditions out on the road.

BRAD BROWN: It also helps with getting comfortable on the bike being in those situations. As far as you go, what are some of the things you think has given you the biggest gains in your bike over the years? Things that you’ve done to improve?

RIANA ROBERTSON: I got myself a power meter just before Ironman 2014. That to me was the biggest advantage I could get from cycling. Also, I had to change my mind-set about how to conserve energy. It’s not just, again like I mentioned in the swimming part, it’s not just about swimming fast. But it’s also about coming out of the water in a good time and being able to bike and run off it.

Cycling is very similar where if you keep your watts and you know what those threshold watts are, you are able to run much faster and more efficiently off the bike. That obviously adds to the bigger picture. That to me was a big learning curve.

I always used to be a big, slow gear, grinding them as hard as I can type cyclist. And that’s one thing with the power centre that’s changed that I could be more efficient on the bike.

Trainer software making your Ironman bike more exciting

I would say the 2nd most important thing is getting trainer software and doing virtual rides on the type of races that I entered for. So I’d get a type of idea of what to expect. I’m a very visual person so that for me was the 2 biggest gains that I got.

BRAD BROWN: I love that. You spoke about riding the Kona bike course in our first chat. What is the software that you’re using? Tell us a bit more about it.

RIANA ROBERTSON: I use the Tacx Software. I know there’s so many out there at the moment. If you have a GPS file of the route, and it could be anything. It could be your training route around the block, it could be 94.7, and it could be Kona. You actually import that GPS file. Obviously you need to have a Google Earth License and you need to have internet access.

You can change your screens to what you want to see but you can see the actual route. Where the tree is, where the turnaround is. This morning I sat on the trainer and I did the first part of the Durban 70.3 route up to the turnaround. So you just get a nice idea of what to expect if you’re not privileged enough to be out there or be out on the road when it’s cold at 4 o’clock in the morning. It also makes it a bit more fun and a little bit exciting.

BRAD BROWN: Yes absolutely. Riana thanks for your time today on The Kona Edge. Much appreciated. We look forward to chatting about your run next time out.

RIANA ROBERTSON: Cool. Thanks Brad.

About Us

Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).

Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.

He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.


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