First of all I hope you all had an epic Christmas for those who celebrate it and I am sure Santa brought you some new Tri toys. If not, I hope you bought some for yourself!
My afternoon was spent at a classic Dubai brunch – not something I get time to do a lot of. So yes I maybe over indulged a little but every now and again is ok.
My Christmas morning, however, was spent doing the now legendary morning sea swim with the TriDubai crew, followed by a little 10km run after refuelling on mince pies and cookies.
The TriDubai team on Christmas day.
Not the usual fuel of choice but that famous line "it's Christmas" came out again. With a start to the day like that it made me not feel so bad going back for a third plate of desert at the brunch.
Back to the training:
I sit here writing this after spending the best part of four hours battling the unforgiving winds in the desert on a training ride. While tapping away on the pedals trying to keep my power steady and position low, it reminded me of a text from a friend I received recently saying he hates riding into the wind. He finds it demoralising, it becomes a struggle for him and he gets no enjoyment from it whatsoever.
Riding in the wind at Al Qudra.
The wind is an element every rider has to deal with, especially here in the Middle East with it being so flat. There are no hills to break up the onslaught of the winds when they decide to pick up.
Yes it may feel like you are suddenly riding with the brake pads stuck on and I am sure everyone who has spent some time on Al Qudra knows that feeling as you swing on to the home straight, as I like to call it.
You come off the last descent, take a right and head towards the mosque – it feels like you have just hit a brick wall, but you can look at it two ways.
You use it to your advantage to make you stronger and a better rider, or you quit. The second option isn't an option, right? If you are a quitter then I hear chess is a good sport. So stick with the first option and use it to your advantage.
With the lack of hills where we train for most of our rides the wind can help us. Yes, it may be annoying when your speed decreases and you are working hard to go forward, especially when it can last for long periods of time, but think positive. Get into the right mindset and focus on the goal at hand.
The more you moan, the more you sit up and struggle, the more energy and the longer it's going to take you to get back to that cup of coffee and cake waiting for you at the end.
Why not incorporate the hard sections into the wind into your training? Use it to do some increased efforts. The wind acts as great resistance for this or big gear work to help strengthen the legs.
With a little pre-planning before the ride this can easily be done.
Top five tips for riding in the wind:
- Stay positive and don't let it get the better of you. The more you moan or sulk it doesn't get any easier. Suck it up and let there be only one winner.
- Drop into an easier gear to keep the cadence higher. This probably won't make you any quicker but it should keep the effort a little more consistent. If you are in a big gear grinding it out then you are probably going to fade much quicker.
- Share the work load. Sitting behind someone (called drafting) can save up to 40 per cent effort. So when you are drafting, that is your time to recover. But when you are in the front, make sure to put the effort in to pull the group. If you are riding alone then back to first tip, suck it up!
- Get 'aero'. This means getting into a low position so you have a smaller surface area for the wind to hit.Eighty per cent of the frontal area when on the bike is your body. Time to get low, tuck the elbows in and get those legs working like pistons. Having the right bike fit will lead to your most comfortable aero position.
- When you turn into a headwind during a triathlon race, keep the effort level the same. This is easy if you are using a power meter as your watts shouldn't change. If they start to go through the roof and you don't control the power output it could really damage the run element of your race as you will have sapped the energy out of your legs. If you have no power meter you will have to go on feel or if you are using heart rate and you have been going along at, for example 145 beats per minute, then you start to see 160bpm, it's not rocket science to know your effort level has gone up.
Riding 'aero' doesn't mean you have to get this low!
I hope those few tips help you next time you hit that wind. One thing to mention when racing or even training is that if you are finding it hard into the wind I am sure 99 per cent of the others are too.
Yes some people cope better in the wind that but could be to do with a few things – their aerodynamics because of a good bike fit, their mindset, experience of riding in tougher conditions and some people are just hardened riders who love the extra pain and suffering it can cause.
If you try and keep the same speed as you have been averaging throughout the race as you hit a headwind I can guarantee it will be detrimental to your race. It will slow you down – it's a fact. Use the tips and get through it without blowing up.