Meet Asheville’s Zach Tacy, an elite triathlete who recently completed the Ironman Virginia 70.3 with a total time of 4:21:23. He PR’d by 10 minutes and was first in his age group, 8th overall, and qualified for the World Championships In Nice, France.
He also competed in the 70.3 World Championship in South Africa with a total time of 4:34:01 and placed 407th overall. He was 28th in his age group out of over 4,500 world athletes.
Biking Techniques for Sprint Tri
Whether you’re training for a regular triathlon or a sprint tri, the bike portion can be intimidating for anyone. You may feel slightly comforted to know that even elite triathletes like Zach Tacy can start out by falling flat on their face. Literally.
“The first time I did the Asheville Tri was also the first time I used clip-ins, and I totally fell in the transition zone,” Zach says, laughing.
Biking, he admits, was not his strength. His advice? Practice the transition from bike to run at least once a week.
“When you get off your bike, your legs feel funny. It’s a really weird feeling that you have to get used to,” he adds. “That’s something I didn’t expect at all the first time I did a tri, so it’s definitely good to get experience with that.”
To start, set up a transition area in your yard and run through everything you’ll need to do during the race. This means getting out of your bathing suit, cap and goggles and onto your bike with bike shoes and helmet. Then, practice dismounting the bike and changing into your running gear.
Minimizing the time spent getting off the bike; practice by setting it off to the side at your house or at the track and then throwing on your running shoes and running a couple of miles, Zach says.
Don’t spend thousands on a bike
Another piece of advice? Don’t sweat it if you don’t have an expensive bike, especially if you’re just starting out.
“Gear can be expensive. If you don’t have a road bike, don’t worry about it: You can borrow one from a friend, or get it off Craigslist,” he says. “I’m riding a Craigslist bike and I qualified for the World Championships twice. I’m competing against people whose bikes cost more than my car.”
More importantly, prepare your bike. Leave it in the right gear when it’s in the transition area, so if you’re going up a hill, you’re in the right gear. There’s no need to go all out right at the beginning; spin your legs for a few minutes to loosen up, then set your pace. Also, check your tire pressure. If you’re tires are not properly inflated they will slow you down.
Get time in the saddle
Training for a Sprint Tri is easy to do as long as you stay consistent. Since the distances are shorter, long workouts are not necessary, but doing all three sports on a regular basis each week is what will set you up for success. Doing two workouts a week in each sport is plenty of practice.
Zach recommends doing a 45-minute to an hour bike ride, with 10-15 minutes of easy riding and then doing that same time harder and faster. After you ditch the bike and start running, run a couple of miles or do 30-35 minutes. Power and interval work is important, with 5-minute hard intervals mixed with a couple minute recovery/moderate riding in-between. Then, repeat that 3-5 times.
Tempo workouts are also beneficial, such as doing a small warm-up and then setting a hard pace for 10-15 minutes. Do this twice. The tempo pace should be close to race pace, and interval work should be harder than race pace.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a rookie, a sprint tri is an event you’ll want to sign up for this year. There’s a reason they are becoming increasingly popular: The training is doable for most, they offer diversity, and the tri community is like a small family.
For the bike portion, keep these four things in mind:
- Don’t sweat buying an expensive bike
- Practice transition
- Stay consistent
- Keep a sense of humor
As for the rest? All you have to do is tri.
Editor’s note: We will continue to blog about the Asheville Triathlon in the upcoming weeks. Next up: Running!
PHOTO CREDIT: WRIGHT CREATIVE, INC.
Zach Tacy talks about why the Asheville Triathlon is the event to sign up for this year.
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