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Bike Handling Drills for Triathletes

Bike Handling Drills for Triathletes

Bike Handling Drills for Triathletes

When a triathlete shows up to pretty much any group ride, there is the usual banter about the bike handlings skills of triathletes or the lack thereof. In fact, it is almost a surprise when triathletes do have good bike handling skills! Our sport, especially the non-drafting version that the vast majority of us participate in, is not one that instills a lot of bike handling practice. Tri bikes are designed to be aerodynamic and fast going in a straight line.

Still, working on your bike handling skills is necessary. Improved bike handling skills instills more confidence, creates a safer environment, and can make you a faster triathlete. Playtri has been working with triathletes and cyclists of all ages and experience levels for over 20+ years to be safer, faster, and more confident bike handlers. And our coaches regularly provide one-on-one bike handling sessions with athletes in the DFW area. Below are my favorite bike handling drills for that I use when working with athletes one-on-one.

  • Hold the Line: While in your aerobars, ride on the while line close to the shoulder. See how far you can ride without touching bare road. Try this at different speeds. As you gain confidence, try it one handed while you move your free hand to your water bottle, back of your jersey, back of your seat, helmet, etc. Make sure to practice with both hands.

  • Parking Lot Criterium: In an empty parking lot, set up a set of cones that require you to make 4 left turns. To keep from sliding out in the turn, place more of your weight on your front while by putting your hands on the bull horns of your tri bike or in the drops on your road bike. Don’t pedal while you corner. Instead put your inside foot up and outside foot down, and lean toward the direction you are turning, keep pressure on the outside foot. Release the brakes when you start the turn and lean your bike, not your body, into the turn. As you gain confidence, lean further into the corner. Remember to look where you want to go and not where you are or at the corner.

  • Figure 8: Set out two cones and perform figure eights going in each direction. As you progress, bring the cones closer. If you don’t have cones, use a parking spot in an empty parking lot.

  • Bottle Grabs: This is very race specific. Practice grabbing a water bottle from someone standing on the side of the road. Then practice filling your front hydration and/or placing the bottle in one of your bottle cages.

Drills like these not only help you gain more confidence but also make you a faster and safer cyclist. And if you are looking for specific guidance for ways you can improve as a cyclist, you can book a one-on-one session with one of our coaches here:

If you have questions about anything this article or are interested in learning about different coaching options, please reach out to me at Happy training and racing this year!

Jim Rowe is a Playtri Level 4 Coach and Coach Education Lead, a USAT LI Certified Coach, and NASM Certified Personal Trainer who works with adult athletes of all abilities from beginners to IRONMAN World Championship qualifiers. Learn more about Jim at

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