Jené Shaw—It may never be super comfy, but with a few pointers you can achieve a natural, powerful aero stance on your tri bike.
Going from an upright road bike to an aerodynamic tri bike takes some getting used to, so to help speed up the process, we gathered some tips from a few coaches who have helped athletes feel right at home in their aerobars.
1. Get a Good Bike Fit
Whether you’re buying a new tri bike or putting aerobars on your road bike, you need a professional’s expertise. Just don’t force yourself into an overly aggressive aero position. “You’re doing yourself a disservice if you sacrifice power for aerodynamics,” says New York City coach Jonathan Cane of City Coach Multisport (Citycoach.org). “Similarly, if you sacrifice comfort for the sake of speed, you’ll pay the price on the run.”
2. Assess Your Weight
“If there’s a little excess mass in your gut, it’s going to inhibit your ability to comfortably ride in aero position,” Cane says. “If you’re in the process of getting down to your ‘fighting weight,’ begin with a few extra spacers below your stem and then remove them as you progress.”
3. Ease Yourself in on a Trainer
While riding indoors, fold up a thick towel on top of your aerobar pads, suggests Coach Jared Gell of Competitive Instinct Multisport in Stamford, Conn. (Cimultisportcom). Do a progressive “drop”: Gradually unfold the towel over several rides to inch closer to the actual position.
4. Start with the “Run/Walk” Method
Triathlete Bike columnist Scott Fliegelman suggests breaking up your aero time into manageable chunks such as 4 mins/1 min, and building from there. Ride four minutes “on the gas” in the aerobars, then back off for a minute and sit upright to stretch your back and give your backside a break. Continue the pattern and increase your aero time.
5. Use the Terrain As A Guide
Use the uphills to spin while maintaining position, which will allow you to adapt to various cadences and pressures. “Sustained uphills of a moderate grade will teach you to keep the position when fatigue starts setting in,” Gell says. “This is the best way to build core, gluteus and quadricep strength needed to ride aero while on extended flat sections.”
6. Build Core and Upper Body Strength
If you have a weak core or upper body, you’re more likely to break position and fatigue more easily. Planks are a perfect core exercise for athletes who have trouble holding aero.
7. Try This Workout
This workout from Coach Jared Gell will allow you to build overall leg strength and teach you to generate significant power from the aero position.
- 10-minute warm-up
- 2×5 min in aero at a moderate effort with the last minute at a hard/Zone 3 effort (recover 3 min after each)
- 5×1 min all-out power/Zone 4 intervals in aero (recover 2 mins after each)
- 5-minute cool-down