Triathlon doesn’t have to mean you compete in all three disciplines – swim, bike and run.
A good way to dip your toe into the tri waters is to just take on one of the disciplines and enter as a team. This gives you a taste of the tri culture and just how addictive it can be whilst easing into the idea.
If you want to go that one step further, but you still don’t want to bite off all three at once, then you can enter as a team of two. Get someone else to do just one of the disciplines whilst you take care of the others.
Regardless of whether you’re a two-person or three-person team, you will each use the one timing chip, which essentially becomes a kind of relay baton as it’s passed on from one to the other. In Ironman events, race organisers allocate a pre-determined meeting point at which all team members converge towards the end of the run leg. This way, the whole team gets to cross the finishing line together.
Like we said, it’s a great way to give it a go. So why not start the ball rolling with a sizeable challenge – a 70.3 Ironman team entry? Ironman has a new event joining their stable this year, with the Ballarat 70.3 happening on 16 November 2014. We caught up with Australian Ironman superstar and race Ambassador Luke Bell.
What bike do you race and train on?
60-70% of the time on a Giant Propel Advanced (aero road) and 30-40% on a Time Trial Trinity SL 0.
What’s your fastest ever bike split and what was the race/distance?
Over the 70.3 Distance (90km cycle) the fastest split has been a 1h 59min at the World Championships in Florida.
What’s your favourite Ironman?
Racing at home in Australia or NZ bring very fond memories. I do always remember and enjoyed the Taupo NZ Ironman. Also I would have to say Brazil Ironman is up there, as the people were amazing. It also helped that my race kit was a copy of Ranoldo's soccer outfit with his number on my back, so the crowd did get behind me a little more. I remember school buses going by with the kids hanging out the windows yelling and screaming support.... for Ranoldo!
What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?
This is something that always changes. I do enjoy all 3 disciplines swim, bike and run however, it does go in waves. I think that is the beauty of the sport; that you are not always doing the same things.
Looking specifically at 70.3 and full Ironman events, what features are crucial when it comes to the bike? What should someone new to the sport be looking for?
In the 70.3 and Ironman distances the bike takes up the largest part of the time and also can directly affect how you will run. Prepare by developing strength from long steady rides. You do not have to be a "professional" doing intervals but you do have to spend time on the bike seat. Get out the door and ride some hills - let them be the "interval" work for you. At the end of the day you have to ride 90km (70.3 distance) or 180km (Ironman) and then run. There is no magic formula or pill.
The general rule of thumb is you can train for a half marathon in three months. How long do you think it would take a regular rider to train for the bike leg of a 70.3?
I think to have a good go at training for a 70.3 for a regular rider would be around the 8-12 weeks. For a regular rider it would also depend on the term "regular"; it would be more about incorporating Time Trial (TT) efforts and some more specific strength work (steady hill repeats). The main difference that people underestimate is that a regular rider can cover the distance comfortably however once you add in the effort and pacing required to hold a hard sustained TT over 90km, it’s quite different.
Tell us about the 70.3 Ballarat bike leg
The 70.3 bike leg at Ballarat has a little of something for everyone. Once out of the water and mounting your "steed" it is a fast section around Lake Wendouree where spectators will increase the adrenaline before heading out and through Victoria Park with some technical turns. From there it is a left turn onto Sturt St under the "Arch of Victory" and out onto the open exposed roads for some time in the TT position. A quick U-turn and you head back to Lake Wendouree for a wave to family and friends before heading out on the second lap of the (90km) course.
Who’s going to fire things up on the bike leg at this year’s Ironman Ballarat 70.3?
The bike course and field that will be assembled will display some hot times. The field will not be finalised for the next few weeks so it is difficult to talk names or internationals. However with the nature of 70.3 racing now is very competitive and splits will be in the 40-45km/hr average taking athletes in the low 2hr mark to ride the Ballarat 70.3 course.