Registered for the Holoholo Challenge’s new cycling course and ready to roll? Gear up for our monthlong virtual fitness challenge with Hawaiian Airlines Vice President of Marketing & E-Commerce Rob Sorensen — he has more than a few tips to share.
Of the three sports of a triathlon, cycling is my favorite. In my teens I rode numerous multi-day trips covering hundreds of miles. It was my sanctuary where I could get out in nature and think. I still love those trips. A few years ago, my mother and I were joined by my grandfather (age 91) in cycling 330 miles from Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh, PA, on the C&O Canal Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage rail-to-trail. We camped and my grandfather even carried his own tent and gear! These days, most of my cycling is for training and done indoors. This fits better with my schedule as I can do it early in the morning when it is still dark outside. However you choose to cycle, preparation is key.
Get a good bike fit to be kind to your back and knees. The mechanics of peddling are pretty fixed once you have set your seat height and stem length. If these are not a good fit for your body, the thousands of pedal strokes and time in the saddle can be very problematic for your knees, lower back, neck and even your wrists. A bike shop can help adjust your bike to a proper fit. If you ride an aero bike, I recommend a professional fit for improved aerodynamics as well as body mechanics.
Training apps are not IRL (in real life) but are better than nothing. Training software programs like Zwift, TrainerRoad and Bkool can run on a computer, iPad or AppleTV and connect to either a Bluetooth bike trainer (I use a Tacx NEO 2T), power meter (I use a Quarq SRAM Red), or cadence meter. Zwift provides a virtual reality world that immerses your virtual biking self into a community of global riders sharing a common landscape. Your movement on screen reflects your effort on the bike and is adjusted for hills and even gravel roads. All of your statistics such as power, cadence, heart rate and speed are captured. The different landscapes and challenges break up the monotony of riding in your basement. You can follow me (ROB SORENSEN) and we will give each other “ride ons!”
Internet-connected bikes have changed indoor cycling. It has been amazing to see how widely exercise companies like Peloton, Echelon and NordicTrack have caught on. Each combines a very high-quality stationary bike with a large digital screen that connects you to live and recorded online training classes. Your efforts are shown on a leaderboard with others in the same class. People find these classes very motivational and a great way to get in some miles.
Good bibs are worth the investment. If you are cycling a lot, you know you need a good chamois to pad your seat and protect your bottom. Upgrading to a bib, a one-piece short that goes over your shoulders, provides a lot more comfort around the waist. My favorite are Rapha bibs, but they can be expensive so I get them on sale. Castelli shorts are my next favorite.
Protect your bottom. Saddle sores are no fun. If you ride long enough and are not doing anything to protect against them, there is a good chance they will find you. A little Chamois Butt’r before each ride can help a lot.
Stay hydrated. Even riding indoors and out of the sun, you need to take in a lot of fluids to stay hydrated. I shoot for finishing off a water bottle every 30 minutes. Every second or third water bottle, I’ll include Skratch Labs mix to add electrolytes. For rides over 90 minutes, I will consume 100 calories for every 45 minutes of cycling in order to keep my energy stores from being depleted.
Go with a friend and be visible. If you do cycle outside, I strongly recommend going with a friend. With a friend, you are more likely to be seen by cars and they have to be more careful going around you both. Wearing bright clothing helps. If you bike when it is at all dark, please light yourself up like a Christmas tree! Be visible and be safe.
Learn to fix a flat. I am always surprised to learn how many people don’t know how to fix a flat. This is fine, of course, until you have a flat and wish you knew. Practice at home. You don’t need to patch it on the open road. Just carry a spare tire and swap them out. You can patch it at home if needed.
Take your phone. If you do run into any trouble you will want to be able to phone a friend. Most cycling jerseys have back pockets that can easily carry a phone. I’ve switched to wearing an Apple Watch that has a built-in phone — doesn’t take much space but does the trick.
About Rob Sorensen. Rob likes to cycle and only started running 10 years ago when his brother-in-law challenged him to complete a full-distance Ironman. Since then, he’s completed numerous full and half Ironman races, as well as full and half marathons. He is thrilled that his college-aged children are also triathletes, and all completed the St. George Utah Half Ironman with him this past May.