On this edition of The Kona Edge we chat to Tripp Hipple about how he uses low gear and low cadence work to improve his Ironman bike.


BRAD BROWN:  Welcome onto this edition of The Kona Edge, it’s great to have you with us once again and it’s time to chat some biking. We head back to Colorado, to Denver to be precise and we catch up with returning guest Tripp Hipple. Tripp, welcome, thanks for joining us today.

TRIPP HIPPLE:  Yeah, great, love to talk about some biking.

BRAD BROWN:  Tripp, it’s interesting, you said to us that you didn’t come from one of the three disciplines essentially, the bike is the longest from a time perspective, have you found you picked it up pretty easily, has it come quite naturally to you?

Take your Ironman bike training to the next level

TRIPP HIPPLE:  Yes, so biking to me is probably personally speaking, the discipline that came the most natural. I rode a bike growing up for fun, rode a BMX bike and it just seems more of a natural fit. But now with getting a Power meter and riding by heart rate and looking at those metrics, within the last couple of years have really taken my riding to another level and much like swimming and running and everything else, putting in the time and the effort pays out and I think with biking, the more times you can ride, the better because it pays off, especially for the running. If your bike fitness is top-notch, then your running is going to be top-notch as well, just because of how much energy you can save at a specific pace of wattage on the bike when you’re fit.

BRAD BROWN:  It’s interesting you mention the BMX growing up. I think a lot of kids used to have BMX’s. I used to race, I wouldn’t say competitively, but race quite a bit and I just really love riding my bike and I still get that feeling today and I don’t know if it’s like that for you, it’s almost this freedom and you could almost equate it to the swim. Somebody who didn’t necessarily grow up swimming and they’ve got that anxiety in the water as opposed to somebody who did and they’re comfortable in the water. I almost get that feeling on the bike. I’m not sure if it’s the same about you? I feel comfortable on it and I enjoy riding my bike.

TRIPP HIPPLE:  Biking is just fun, typically, unless you’re doing a really hard interval. It’s fun after that’s over but it is very freeing and you can just go so far on a bike versus running and swimming. You have opportunities to see places that you typically wouldn’t go, especially even in a car or on foot and you can cover so much ground on a bike on long rides and I like to use music and listen to podcasts when I’m riding. But there’s something about those two things combined, when you’re feeling really good on a long ride, it’s very exhilarating and it’s very satisfying to the soul.

BRAD BROWN:  What are you working on right now in trying to improve your bike?

TRIPP HIPPLE:  So, I’m working on doing a lot of low gear type of work for strength, low cadence and then when I start ramping up for Ironman Arizona training will get into more specific intervals. It’ll be typically 4 x half an hour at a certain wattage, could be more than that time-wise or less.

Really for me, it’s about being consistent on the Power, so I look at that a lot and especially heart rate as well. With those two combined, because they can tell you a lot about how your body is performing on a certain day or time and I use that as my guide. A lot of it is about holding a certain wattage for a certain amount of time. And learning how to focus and to be comfortable in the uncomfortable stage that that is and yeah, and also I’m working on nutrition. It’s always a big piece of the puzzle, especially for longer distance racing. Practicing that all the time, taking in a certain amount of liquids and calories per hour.

BRAD BROWN:  Tripp you mentioned the heart rate and the Power meter. I think most people nowadays do have heart rate monitors attached to their watches or their bike computers, but from a Power perspective, obviously cost-wise, they’re not the cheapest of tools, but would you really recommend someone get one if they do have the resources to buy one?

Heart rate is king on your Ironman bike

TRIPP HIPPLE:  Sure, if you had the resources. I would buy the best things you can buy if you have the money because you do get what you pay for in those items. However, I think there’s a learning curve, especially with Power meters. And heart rate is a little more self-explanatory, but you still have to go through a learning process of how the two work together, or even on their individual purposes. If anything heart rate, for me and my coach, is king, on most days. Specific efforts, like I mentioned during a race, he’ll prescribe a certain Power that I ought to try and hold for the duration but typically it’s all by heart rate, especially in day to day training and it’s just great.

You can physically see over the course of a few months if you’ve been training correctly and eating well and sleeping well, how your heart rate stays at the same zone, but your paces, especially in running, or your Power numbers increase but your heart rates the same, it’s just a very amazing feeling to see that change before your very eyes. If someone can buy a Power meter, I would suggest getting it cause it’s so helpful, but I don’t think it’s a necessary item to have, specifically.

BRAD BROWN:  What’s your favourite workout on the bike?

TRIPP HIPPLE:  Favourite workout on the bike would probably, there’s probably two of them. There’s one that we do that’s a cadence ladder that it’s all different cadence. Very low cadence to start out with, for a very short amount of time, about 3 minutes at a very low cadence and then 2 minutes at a very high cadence. But you’re almost starting polar opposite. So very low at the beginning and then kind of meeting in the middle towards the end of the cadence.

I typically ride around 90 cadence, is pretty natural for me and pushing, especially a higher cadence, around 115 or 120 is very, very difficult. I always think that’s a very challenging workout for me, but I also like the 4 x half hour workouts, at a certain wattage. They’re very painful and very honest, you can’t hide from it and it gets you ready for race day, like nothing else!

BRAD BROWN:  I always laugh when I hear people tell me about those workouts because I almost get the sense that you have to be a bit of a masochist if you want to be good at the sport.

TRIPP HIPPLE:  You do, you have to, at least for me. I go into those workouts knowing what sort of music I’m going to listen to and it usually involves either heavy metal or loud electronic music and caffeine. You kind of just have to let go and just deal with it and embrace the pain.

BRAD BROWN:  And tell yourself this too shall pass.

TRIPP HIPPLE:  This too shall pass, that’s right, in a half hour.

BRAD BROWN:  Exactly, thank you so much for joining us on this edition of The Kona Edge, much appreciated and we look forward to getting you on next time to talk a little bit about your run.

TRIPP HIPPLE:  Great, thank you.

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