The importance of a solid base in your triathlon bike performance
The importance of a solid base in your triathlon bike performance

The importance of a solid base in your triathlon bike performance

Rob Cummins Ironman Bike

Ironman World Championships qualifier, Aled Smith, shares with us how building a solid base has helped him improve his triathlon bike performance.

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BRAD BROWN: This is The Kona Edge, welcome back, I’m Brad Brown and it’s time to chat some triathlon bike today. We have a returning guest, all the way from Wales in the UK, Aled Smith. Aled welcome, nice to catch up once again.

ALED SMITH: Cheers Brad, thanks for having me, it’s great.

BRAD BROWN: Aled, in your chat with us where we spoke about your journey, you mentioned you got your first bicycle when you were about 18. That’s sort of where your cycling started. Would you consider yourself coming from a cycling background more than the other two disciplines?

ALED SMITH: Yeah, definitely, so my parents got me into the sport after they bought some road bikes.  I was like no, I’m never going to get on a bike, don’t be so ridiculous.

Then I got my bike and it went from there really. I absolutely fell in love with the sport. When you love the triathlon bike it makes it a lot easier. I’s just a joy to get on my triathlon bike and go for a ride.

BRAD BROWN: In a sport like triathlon, when you look at percentages, the triathlon bike is where they’re going to spend the most of their time. You could probably get the biggest gains within the triathlon bike from a performance perspective.

Can you pinpoint it down to one thing that you do or have done that has made a big difference in your triathlon bike performance?

The ONE thing that’s improved my triathlon bike

ALED SMITH: Yeah, when I first got my coach, it was very much about the long, slow base miles. I was a bit skeptical of that at first. Going out for five hours and not going above a certain heart rate or a certain power. But I was doing that regularly and the more I did it, the easier it became.

In February/March, a 100 mile ride didn’t faze me and I was doing them quite regularly. That was the biggest thing, just building up that endurance. When it comes to racing at the higher intensities, you just don’t burn out half as quick as you used to and that’s what set my season up for a good biking season really.

BRAD BROWN: It’s almost counterintuitive and you say you were skeptical but it is weird, it’s almost like you need to slow down to go faster.

ALED SMITH: Yeah, very much so, it’s all about making your heart and lungs more efficient, making your energy stores more efficient and just utilizing everything you have and it makes a massive difference when it comes to racing, that’s for sure.

BRAD BROWN: So base training and having a solid base to go into your racing season with makes a big difference. As far as training sessions itself go on the bike, you’ve told us how you like mixing things up in the pool, are you pretty much the same on the bike? Do you like different types of workouts, what are some of your favourites?

Increase your intensity to improve your Ironman Bike

ALED SMITH: On the weekend I do my longer triathlon bike rides. They will be 4,5,6 hours, but then during the week I don’t have as much time. I have to shorten everything down and bring the intensity right up.

I was fortunate enough throughout the summer and winter last year to have a good group of guys that I trained with regularly.  We’d always push ourselves to the max So we’d have an hours’ time trial or 20 miles for example.

It would be sort of self-seeded and then you’d go off and you’d give each other two minutes. You’d go and chase them and it would be just a max effort for the 20 miles. It’s like a 20 mile time trial as fast as you can go. Just to see how fast you can go and what the power outcome would be afterwards. It’s a great way to get the heart and lungs and legs burning, it was a great session.

BRAD BROWN: I love that, it sounds like a ton of fun. Especially if you’ve got a pretty competitive group of guys and girls. I think it could make for a very interesting workout.

You also mentioned the numbers, and looking at the numbers and the data afterwards. You’ve also mentioned to me that you train with a power meter. Has that made a big difference to your Ironman bike performance?

The role of power in improving your bike performance

ALED SMITH: Yeah, massively, it just takes all the guess work out. You do your tests on Power and then you do your calculations. 75% of your FTP or whatever, you race that and that’s the number you stick at for the whole day when you’re racing Ironman.

It’s such a long day to not be able to know what you’re doing or if you’re pushing too hard. Or if you’re not going as hard as you can.

With power, you just know that is your optimum power and that’s what you can hold for 5-6 hours of racing. It also enables you to have a good solid run afterwards. That’s a big thing with Ironman, you’re not there to have the fastest bike you can have.

You’re having a fast bike, but you also want to leave yourself in a position where you can run afterwards. That’s a big thing when it comes to higher level racing of Ironman.

BRAD BROWN:  You can do serious damage on the Ironman bike. Particularly if you go out of those power zones that you want to essentially be in. You might not feel the damage on the bike, you might be feeling great, but you’re definitely going to feel it second half of the Ironman run.

Sticking to the numbers is is vital for a good triathlon bike leg

ALED SMITH: Definitely. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve seen people in front of me and they’ve just absolutely crashed and burnt on the run because they’ve obviously pushed too hard on the bike. It happens to professionals too.

They’re racing on the rivet all day and there’s no way they can sustain it. It’s pretty evident when you’re racing, you see them and they’re just in a world of pain. You need to keep your efforts conserved throughout the race.

BRAD BROWN: Aled, do you do much on an indoor trainer?

ALED SMITH: No, I can’t, mentally it just kills me. I’m mentally very weak when it comes to getting on to the turbo trainer, it’s something I loathe and I find very hard to jump onto the turbo trainer, even if it’s just for 45 minutes or an hour session, it’s something I don’t like to do.

BRAD BROWN: Even if it’s bucketing down outside, the wind is howling, you’d rather be out on the road?

ALED SMITH: Yeah, definitely and winter time now, it’ll be dark at 5:00 in the evening, so I just whack on the lights, whack on some winter bib shorts and just go out and ride outside.

BRAD BROWN: Aled Smith, that’s amazing, thank you so much for your time here on The Kona Edge, much appreciated, we look forward to catching up again soon.

ALED SMITH: Thank you very much, cheers.

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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