Faster Bike Splits for 20km to 40km Triathlons or Time Trials

Big Kev’s Wisdom Report

With over 46 years of cycle and triathlon racing experience, I find myself on many occasions sharing some wisdom with my fellow riders. This will be my personal opinion and wisdom covering a wide range of issues.

As we all know, riding a triathlon or time trial is very different to cycling racing. So I would like to share what I was told many years by a New Zealand Olympic 100ks time trial team cyclist named Stephen Cox.

Race hard, race smart

It’s not about speed, he said but more about your average speed. On that note, his advice was to find a 5ks flat course where you ride out 5ks into the wind to warm up. Then turn and ride back with a tail wind at a higher average speed than you would normally face.

Repeat the course 4 or 6 times to start with, so that’s 6 x easy and 6 x at a high tempo, at the same average speed each time. The three key elements here are average speed, higher than normal cadence 90 to 110, and 75 to 80% max heart rate. Once you have carried out this course of training one day a week over a month or so, you will start to find a balance in speed/cadence/heart beat that works for you, no matter your age or fitness.

From experience, I expect you will find your 3rd or 4th runs will normally feel the best, but don’t hesitate to increase to 8 then 10 out and back runs as you get stronger. You’ll be amazed in a short time at how you’ll start to understand and listen to your body and ride through the hard sections. Key priorities to focus on first: maintain a smooth cadence, using both legs and breathing deep which allows for maximum inhaling and exhaling. Remember, speed is of NO interest at the early stages. Find the balance that works for you and your higher average speed will naturally follow.

Once having used this information to achieve your balance, this is your starting point to build strength, distance – and finally a higher average speed into your triathlon or time trial.

Practice makes perfect

One additional piece to the puzzle! If you ride beyond your capabilities while training or racing, don’t ease up but simply go on to a bigger gear. This then allows you retain your average bike speed while lowering your cadence, enabling you to to recover and catch your breath. Allow no more than 10 to 15 seconds to suck in the air; any longer and you will lose focus. Then get back into the groove ASAP. I personally use this recovery method more and more as I get older. Don’t hesitate to reward yourself in this manner as it’s great for the body and mind, plus it helps to build great mental strength for race day.


Karl Hayes

Head of Rest and Recovery

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.