On this edition of The Kona Edge we catch up with Kevin Portmann and find out what it is that helps him achieve his Ironman bike times. Kevin shares his gear preferences with us and tells how it improves his performance. Also your chance to win a pair of Hoka One One running shoes with Jackrabbit.com.
BRAD BROWN: Onto the Ironman bike now. Out of the 3 disciplines, self-confessed it is the strongest. You’re a maniac on the bike mate, you are an absolute machine. Those sorts of speeds and those sorts of times. There’s hard work that goes into it even though you do definitely have ability.
Develop your Ironman bike skills
KEVIN PORTMANN: Yes, and you know I think it’s good, I think it could be much better so I’m excited for the years to come to really develop my skills on the bike and in my legs.
But definitely the strongest of the 3. The good thing is it’s also the longest of the 3 and that makes racing a lot more enjoyable.
BRAD BROWN: In our first chat you were telling me about the risk of pushing too hard and really shredding your legs but thankfully because of power meters you are able to reign yourself in a little bit.
That is the big risk for someone who comes into the sport as a strong cyclist. You almost feel like that is where you need to make up lots of time and if you do go too hard, those 26 miles on the back end can be very long.
Use the power meter on your Ironman bike to race efficiently
KEVIN PORTMANN: It’s funny because as an age grouper I learned that and I applied those lessons fairly well. Especially for Ironman racing where I would stick to my power and try not to go into the ruck zone too often.
Then you jump into the pro field and I’m 45-minutes into the bike ride and your legs just completely shut down. Mostly because I’m trying to make as much ground as I can. A perfect example was last week at Calgary. The swim just didn’t come together for me so I tried to catch up the guys but being such a flat course there’s just so much you can do.
The first 30 miles were good and fast and high powered but after that I just had not much left in the legs to catch up with those guys so it ruined the back end of the ride and the run was painful. The beauty of the power meter is that if you’re smart enough you really can pace yourself very well and you put yourself in a very good situation for the run.
BRAD BROWN: Did you get a power meter early on? When did you first decide to start using power?
Become a more consistent and stronger rider on your Ironman bike
KEVIN PORTMANN: I had a power meter and I’ve been using a power meter for 3 years, so fairly early on. To me, from a training perspective, it’s probably one of the best equipment that I’ve bought. Very reliable. I swear by the numbers.
It does take away the fun of riding at times because you end up being like Froome. He rides the Tour de France just like fixated on your system and on your bike computer and all you look at is the numbers and you don’t really get to fully experience the ride. So I think it does take away the fun of riding a little bit but on the flip side I think it makes you a little more consistent and stronger rider.
BRAD BROWN: From a workout perspective, what is your favourite workout to do on the bike?
KEVIN PORTMANN: There are a few. I love spending time on the bike so going out on my own for 6/7 hours is my happy place. I just like getting on the bike, on the aero bars and just being by myself and my own thoughts and relive and re-experience races like Kona and races where I had a good race.
Find your happy place on your Ironman bike
And then from an intervals perspective, the painful 20-minute all out. We have an island here called Siesta Island in San Diego and it’s closed to traffic early in the morning. So if you go early enough, I think it’s a 2-and-a-half mile loop, completely flat and it’s just so cool to get out there and ride as hard as you can without having to worry about cars hitting you. So I’d say the FTP test is mentally really challenging. You feel that burning in your legs from the first second up until the last second.
44:23 – 46:05 – AUDIO SKIPS HERE
BRAD BROWN: Tell me about the gear you use from a bike perspective, what bike are you on? Wheels wise, what do you use? Power meter, helmet, that sort of thing.
Play around with Ironman bike gear to get the best for you
KEVIN PORTMANN: So from the head down it’s Rudy Project, they’re weighing 57 and that’s only because they sold it for 100 bucks in Kona versus the $1000 price tag that they had on those helmets. I like it. I haven’t done any tests or anything with it but it’s comfortable.
I ride a 2014 Cervelo P56 which I really like. It’s a nice and stiff bike, a very comfortable bike. They did change the front end of the bike to be lower. The factory cockpit was not aggressive enough for my position so we changed that this year.
I have Zipps on the back and some Hot Racing wheels from a company in Miami Florida, but it’s time to get a new set of wheels because they’re about to be done.
I have DI2 and I have a Quark power meter 5542 I swopped from a 5339 that I had last year and in the back it’s 1128, 5542. 55 Requires some getting used to especially when you go uphill. Definitely requires turning your legs but I like it. I was at Ironman St. George and Mont Tremblant with it without any issues so it’s a ratio that works well for me.
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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