Aerobars Need Practice

Today (being T minus 2 days until I go back to work) I took my brand new aerobars out for a spin on the Silver Comet trail. I’d used them before, here and there, but I hadn’t gotten on them and cruised for a couple hours. I figured that this would be their shakedown ride, and I was right. This included a saddle move.


For those of you who don’t know what these contraptions are, aerobars are a device designed to get you more bent over, more narrow and more aerodynamic for triathlon racing or time-trialing. In triathlon you are not allowed1 to draft and in time trialing there is no one to draft off of. Therefore, the more skinny and smooth an aerodynamic cross section you can present to the wind of your passage, the better. An excellent illustration of this is by Olmi, here on Flickr.

Two hour ride, 35 miles. Some lessons I learned:

  • No matter whose advice you use, your aerobars will probably not be setup correctly for you. Bring a tool and be ready and willing to make adjustments. I made a few at the turnaround and I was delighted with the change.
  • Don’t expect to get slapped into those aggressive triathlon positions that you see in the magazines. You’ll need to work into it, if only to get the back stretched out while pumping your legs for hours.
  • One thing I discovered about my bike setup was that I kept sliding forward on the armrests due to the resultant forward force from the angle my upper arms were making. I tilted the bars up about 4 degrees and that made all the difference for keeping me in position.
  • My neck is killing me after spending two hours in the aero position, only getting out for the roads I crossed. This will take some building up. Pushups should be good for that, as long as you look forward during the reps.
  • I’m confident that I’ll be tweaking this bike setup all summer as my training rides get longer and I ease into the position I’ll need for the Ironman.

It was a good ride today. I’m looking forward to the next one.

1: Some triathlons allow drafting but the majority do not.

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