Many Ironman triathletes will tell you the bike leg of an Ironman is the most important. Being first off the bike does not guarantee you’ll win but if you don’t pace you Ironman bike correctly you can blow horribly on the Ironman run.
Today on The Kona Edge we chat to Tom Ward about his race strategy on the Ironman bike and what he has done to improve his performance on two wheels.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome back to this edition of The Kona Edge, joining us once again out in Cheltenham in the UK, Tom Ward, Tom, welcome back, nice to touch base again.
TOM WARD: Hi Brad, great to be back.
BRAD BROWN: Tom, the last time we spoke you mentioned something in the chat we had about your swimming and how you improved your swimming was training with people who are better than you. It was advice you took onto the bike as well and you said at the time that the swim was a bit of a rude awakening, but the bike was even more so, riding with better people than yourself.
TOM WARD: Yeah, absolutely. Definitely much more so than the swimming and there’s a lot of egos in a chain gang, which is where I did take myself out of the comfort zone by joining my local chain gang and those boys really know how to make you hurt.
BRAD BROWN: The Ironman bike is an interesting one when it comes to Ironman cause it’s the longest, from a time perspective, discipline within the race and you can make huge gains if you do spend some quality time on the bike.
TOM WARD: Yeah, absolutely. For me, it’s a really tough one because it’s the weakest part of the bike for me, in a 70.3 I managed to hold my own reasonably well and in Ironman I do find it tough and it is something I’ve had to really focus on these last two seasons, to make myself competitive. It is a really important area and if you look at the results, with the odd exception where you do get athletes where the running is the discipline that gets them the results, wins in the races they want, more often than not it’s the bike where the race is won and lost at the moment.
BRAD BROWN: Yeah, and absolutely, getting off a bike feeling good, even though you might not have had the fastest bike, is going to make a big difference on the run. Can you pinpoint one thing that you’ve done in your triathlon career that’s made a huge difference on the bike for you?
One thing to do to improve your Ironman Bike
TOM WARD: I think for me, getting in with better cyclists, as I mentioned before, and taking yourself out of the comfort zone, for me, that’s going to my local chain gang and it’s pushing yourself beyond your normal threshold. You’ve got to really learn to work harder. I found that I perhaps wasn’t able to push myself as hard as I could, as I should have done on the bike, so it’s understanding how hard you can push. Having done a little bit of running in my background as a hockey player and a swim a little bit, and obviously again with the swim being so much shorter, it’s much easier to learn how to push yourself hard and how to pace and on the bike, I hadn’t really learnt how to take myself to that place and go in and cycling with faster cyclists really, I really began to understand how much harder I was capable of pushing and I think that was probably the thing I gained the most from, is understanding how to work harder and judge that in a race.
BRAD BROWN: Do you train to Power or are you one of those guys that just goes to feel?
TOM WARD: A bit of both Brad. I think it’s very important to be able to do both. I do use Power, I do train and race to Power, but I’m equally capable of training and racing to feel should I need to because sometimes you need to have that up your sleeve because if you do blindly train to power, if you’re having a bad day, it can all go terribly wrong for you and you’ve got to be able to recognize if you’re having a good or a bad day and maybe push a bit harder or ease off if you need to. That just comes from knowing your body.
BRAD BROWN: Absolutely. Tom Ward, thank you so much for joining us here on The Kona Edge once again, look forward to catching up again soon.
TOM WARD: No problem, thanks Brad, nice to speak to you.