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Five Pro Bike Tips to set up a Great Run

by Matt Hanson

Matt Hanson racing during the bike leg of a race

Shortly after Challenge Daytona, I had a great conversation with the people at Quintana Roo about being efficient on the bike as well as how I typically try to use the bike to set up a strong run. After all, as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a great bike split if it’s not also followed by a solid run. With race season here, consider these five elements as you look at balancing your efforts across your race.

It's very easy to get caught up in the excitement on the bike. You are finally out of the water and ramped up to start really ticking off the miles. You’ll also likely have a few people start passing you in the early miles...and they might even be in your age group! Remember, you are in for a long day. You should have a plan leading into race day.

That plan should resemble the training you did leading into the race. Whether that is based on power or heart rate, you need to keep your discipline and stick to your plan. Set your ego aside and bike with your head. Trust your training and trust the plan!

You can get a lot out of your long training days that will help you on race day. You gain confidence in your fitness and you definitely get a good training bump. I’d argue the gains you can make in your nutrition plan are more important. Use your long rides to experiment with your nutrition plan. Push the limits for fluids and calories on one ride and see how you feel. Weigh yourself before and after each ride to see how much you are losing during the ride.

It’s ok if you end up having stomach issues during a long training day; much better than having them on race day! Remember, you aren’t just fueling to get through the bike, you are fueling yourself to get through the run as well. Feed your speed!

Each course will come with unique characteristics. You need to make sure you use your training to prep for these specific demands. For flatter courses, you need to make sure you are doing longer, more sustained efforts in your prep where you are staying pinned in the aerobars. If you have a course with bigger climbs, you need to add that into your training as well—or simulate it on the trainer.

For courses with a lot of turns or a bunch of rolling hills, you’ll need to have some efforts that are a bit punchier and have you getting used to lighting matches as you get up to speed. Being prepared for whatever the course is going to throw at you will help you get off the bike fresher and you will feel better in the early miles of the run.

Efficiency comes in multiple forms. First, you want to make sure you're in a good aero position that you can hold throughout the race. Don’t put yourself in such an aggressive position that you can only hold it for a few minutes. On the flip side, having a position that is not aggressive enough will have you waisting many of the aero benefits your beautiful QR can bring you. On the ‘aero’ note, make sure your bottles are positioned well, your spares are stored cleanly away in your Qbox, and you don’t have a bunch of other stuff hanging on the frame.

You also want to be efficient with the way you are laying down the power. The goal is always to ride as steady as possible given the terrain of the course. Sure, you need to push out a little more power to get back up to speed out of each corner and as you crest each roller, but you want to limit the matches you light on race day. You want to have a Variability Index (VI) to be as close to 1.0 as possible. VI is the difference Normalized Power (NP) divided by your Average Power (AP). The NP is essentially a measure of the toll the ride has on your body, the AP will be a better correlation with your average speed (assuming you are in a good aero position the whole time). So if you limit your surges and ride steady, your NP will be much closer to your AP.

The weather will plan a huge factor in how the run is going to shake out. If it is cooler, you might get away with being a little more aggressive than if it is really hot. If the humidity levels are through the roof, your sweat rate will be much higher, which might call for a bit more conservative approach on the bike so you can process more fluids and generate a bit less heat. You shouldn’t have the same plan for a cool day as you do for a hot/humid day. Make sure you adjust accordingly!

I hope you learned a thing or two. Feel free to send a message on

Instagram with any questions you might have on the topic! Safe training and fast racing!

Boulder, CO based pro triathlete Matt Hanson is one of the world's top pros. And as coach with Matt Hanson Racing, he's not shy about passing along some of the tactics that that have helped him to top finishes, like his brilliant runner-up finish at Challenge Daytona last December.

The Quintana Roo-sponsored triathlete takes us through some of the elements that help him stay focused on the bike, ensuring a solid run... and a solid race!
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