Hi! Welcome to the first entry in a series of tips, brought to you by Kestrel Bicycles. I’m Greg Billington, I’ve been a professional triathlete since I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2011. I placed 4th at U23 World Championships later that year after being hit by a car just before graduation (don’t worry, the school President signed my cast during graduation ceremonies).
I’ve been riding Kestrel bikes since 2012, winning my first pro non-drafts events that year on the Kestrel 4000 (5150 New Orleans and 5150 St Louis).
I’m currently attempting to earn an Olympic berth for the 2016 games, riding the very sweet Kestrel Legend. As I pursue that goal, I’ll try to pass on some of what I’ve learned from working with the best coaches in the US and, mainly, by making thousands of mistakes. Here’s the first entry:
5 things I wish I would have paid more attention to the first time I heard them:
2. It’s okay to fill tires to less than 100psi. This depends a lot on rider weight and road surface, but as a 145lb guy, I race below 100psi quite often now (I ride tubulars). This helps a lot for cornering, but also for having a smooth ride on bumpy cobbles and not wiping out in rainy weather. Here’s a pretty good resource: http://www.bccclub.org/documents/Tireinflation.pdf
3. Clean your bike. Shifting matters. This dude has it down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ak4AzlUz5Q
4. Cornering is more than just putting the outside foot down. It’s smashing that outside foot down and gently pressing down on the inside handlebar. It took me an embarassingly long time to learn this, but fast cornering and descending is much easier the more pressure is placed on the outside foot. A lot of easy time can be gained with smooth corners.
5. Races are won by whoever can stay relaxed the longest. I used to treat each race as a test of my potential: I thought I needed to be super amped and find a mental state of heightened emotion and intense focus in order to prove myself. That, however, often wasted energy by making me react too wildly to situations that could affect my result.As I’ve developed, I’ve become better at treating each race as a process, not a test.
The process starts a few days before the race and only finishes once you’ve crossed the line, collapsed in a heap of sweat and soreness. It shouldn’t be reevaluated until the data is back and you can reformulate for the next race. Staying committed to a simple, well thought-out plan will bring a focused calm and the greatest likelihood for success.
Have any questions? Feel free to email me: gregory @ gregorybillington . com