Ironman Bike Hacks: Ride to feel, not power
Ironman Bike Hacks: Ride to feel, not power

Ironman Bike Hacks: Ride to feel, not power

Ironman Bike Hacks: Ride to feel, not power

For Desi Dickinson learning to race on feel has been of utmost importance. Find out why she doesn’t think gadgets give you the edge.

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BRAD BROWN: We head back to South Africa once again, or I should say I stay here; you head back to South Africa. Desi Dickinson joining us once again. Desi, welcome back onto The Kona Edge. Thanks for joining us.

DESI DICKINSON: Lovely, thanks Brad.

An appetite for endurance on your Ironman bike

BRAD BROWN: Desi, let’s talk about your bike. You said to me when you got into the sport you did a couple of races here in South Africa and we mentioned the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the 94.7 and they’re both about 100k’s. There’s a big appetite for endurance cycling and running events here in South Africa. Are you a big fan of the long, steady rides? Or do you prefer the shorter high intensity stuff?

DESI DICKINSON: I think it’s a combination for me. I do enjoy the long. I must say when you’ve completed an Ironman and you’ve been doing those 5/6 hour rides consistently, you do look forward to shorter. A nice ride for me is around a 3-hour ride. 3-and-a half-hour ride, I enjoy that.

Intensity workouts are fun on your Ironman bike

And then the intensity stuff is fun. I definitely do a mix of those. If you had to ask me what I prefer, it’s probably the last ride before the race, where we stop for coffee. But I do a lot of watt bike sessions. I like to do intervals on the road. And then also the long rides, in a group. I love going somewhere.

So, if I’m going to ride from here to there and then maybe stop there for a coffee. The cradle does drive me insane a little bit. Those loops in the cradle drive me insane. I prefer to be out on the road, I’m not particularly scared to be out on the road.

BRAD BROWN: You talk about those loops in the cradle. For those who don’t know The Cradle of Humankind, funnily enough, was just around the corner from where I used to live up in Johannesburg. There’s a 30 or 35k loop that we used to do over and over. There’s a bike lane and it’s fairly safe. Unfortunately in a city like Johannesburg, like most big cities in the world, it’s not the safest to ride bicycles.

Ironman bike – know how it should feel

But it does get a bit mindless. Where you live out on the East of Johannesburg there are some nice rides out there. But again, it comes down to a safety issue and I think everyone is struggling with that. I’ve seen reports again as we’re recording this, of stories of cyclists getting knocked down in Europe, so it does happen everywhere.

You mentioned in our first chat as well that you are a huge fan of doing things by feel and you won’t find a power meter near your bicycle. Talk to me about the not using power.

Train to improve your Ironman bike power

DESI DICKINSON: When I say I don’t use power, it’s probably not on my races and that type of thing. But I do train to improve power. So I know what my FTP is. My sessions are around that, doing intervals to my FTP. For me, to be on a watt bike and put my head down and know this is 200 watts. I have the ability to do that. It’s a weird thing. And I translate that onto being on the bike.

BRAD BROWN: We do get caught up in the numbers and it’s easy to be on the bike just staring at that meter all day. Sometimes it happens. You get on there and something has happened to the meter and you don’t have it. And you’d be lost without it if you didn’t have it. And that’s the risk. You do need to learn what 200 watts feels like, as an example.

Will a power meter give you gains on your Ironman bike?

DESI DICKINSON: But having said that, I haven’t tried it. It’s hard for me to say because I cannot compare the 2 and give an objective answer. I just know what works for me. Who knows, if I put a power meter on maybe I’d be faster. But as it stands now that’s how it is for me.

BRAD BROWN: And some of the things you’ve done over time that you think have really helped move the needle on your bike. You mentioned about working and focusing and doubling down on your strengths. Your bike and run are your two.

What are some of the things you’ve done over time that you think has really improved your bike performance?

Consistency trumps all in Ironman bike training

DESI DICKINSON: Again, it’s consistency Brad. Just riding week in and week out. And having said that I don’t enjoy the cradle, it’s riding that rough course often, because it is hilly. One of the things when I did join, because I train with Lucie, is to ride that big gear a lot. We’re not allowed to go into our granny-gear, really. So I do ride a lot of big gear. And then there’s another ride that I didn’t mention, it’s Suikerbos. I don’t know if you know about Suikerbos?

BRAD BROWN: Yes. That’s in the South. Sort of south-east of Joburg.

DESI DICKINSON: Yes. So that’s something which is great for building strength and power and probably more for off season type of work. Because I don’t think there’s a course out there that’s similar to Suikerbos. So to ride that often, to build strength, is fantastic. Because in 58km or 68km, I think there’s 1200m of climbing. So, just to build strength.

Riding hills and big gears for Ironman bike strength

One of my favourite things to do pre-Ironman is to do that loop twice. That’s great for the head and the legs.

BRAD BROWN: Desi, what do you hate doing on the bike? What do you dread, when it pops up in training peaks and you think oh no, what’s Lucie Zelenkova doing, is she trying to kill me? What do you hate doing?

DESI DICKINSON: It’s like 5-minute at some ridiculous watts, six times. Because they become what’s for me. Like what?

BRAD BROWN: Ah, I love it. Desi, as always, great to catch up. Thanks for your time here on The Kona Edge once again. Look forward to chatting a little about your run the next time out.

DESI DICKINSON: Okay, fantastic. Thank you.

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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