If you talk to pure cyclists, you probably know the stereotypes many have about triathletes. They don’t know how to handle a bike. They can’t ride in a group. Any sprint and they’re off the back.
If you self-identify with any of these (no judgments), you don’t have to join a road cycling team to improve. Experimenting with different bikes and riding styles is all it takes and you’ll be rewarded with improved skills and faster bike splits.
The problem: Riding a straight line in the aerobars can improve aerobic fitness but doesn’t test bike-handling skills.
Backup plan: Ride off-road and you can’t help but learn to better control a bike.
Cycling without the comfortable predictability of pavement helps engrain the balance, skill and confidence needed to rip through a twisty road.
The problem: A drop of precipitation means tri bikes are shunned from the roads.
Backup plan: Rely on knobby tires to ride outside in rough weather.
Rain, snow, wind and cold are no trouble for a proper backup bike. Fat and knobby tires can grip crummy surfaces—road or trail—and riding at slower speeds helps take the sting off low temps.
The problem: Put a bunch of triathletes together and everyone wants to ride steady.
Backup plan: Ride trail for a no-stress interval workout.
Riding at a consistent effort is simply not possible on a trail. Every small hill or tight corner necessitates a burst of effort to stay at speed. These frequent mini sprints add up to a stellar interval workout that perfectly complements monotone tri-specific bike training.
An Example Backup Bike
The perfect backup bike should be equipped for all surfaces and conditions, and anything from a cyclocross bike to a full-suspension mountain bike can do the job. ’Cross bikes, however, might be the most versatile option and the CAADX has everything you need to get faster and more confident simply by taking it on fun rides.
Broad tires dissolve road vibration better than any frame material, so the affordable aluminum frame is a perfect match. Like most cyclocross rigs, the CAADX puts the rider in a more upright position than many road bikes, improving balance and handling on rough trails.
Cannondale’s MB700T disc brakes slow and stop the bike with more control and force than just about any road caliper.