Hans Christian Tungesvik is a Norwegian professional triathlete and winner of the 2019 XTRI World Championship. He has set his sights on qualifying for Kona 2020, which would make him the first Norwegian pro triathlete to do so.
Hans Christian Tungesvik is very interested in aerodynamics and how to sit optimally on his bike – especially on the longer distances like IRONMAN, where it is not necessarily advantageous to be 100% aerodynamic, as you can not run optimally when you jump off the bike in the transition zone.
Hans Christian Tungesvik gives his top 10 tips on what to pay attention to when riding long distance triathlons.
1. Aero is (a Part of) Everything
They say “aero is everything”.
I beg to disagree.
There is no perfect correlation between aerodynamic efficiency and the end result in your main race of the season. Yes, aerodynamics play an important role in finding the optimal bike position in long-distance triathlon, especially on flat and fast courses. There are still lots of other aspects to consider, such as comfort, ability to hold the position and athlete mobility, amongst others.
What would be the point of an aerodynamic position if you’re only able to keep it for 20% of the bike course?
Make sure to avoid the mistake of over focusing on aerodynamics – bike fitting is just not that simple.
2. Step by Step
3. Bike Fitting is a Long-Term Process
Don’t expect to have the final answer in hand when leaving the bike fit studio.
The position you get from a bike fit is a great starting point for your optimal race day setup, but will probably need some fine tuning. Get out on the road for some longer rides, see how the position feels, and make small incremental adjustments accordingly until you feel comfortable, strong and fast.
4. Always Bring Protection
When spending time and money on a bike fit, you might as well do it properly.
Bring all your race gear, including helmet, race suit, shoes, and other equipment you might use for race day. In order to get the whole picture, your race setup as a whole should be evaluated.
A position could appear both comfortable and aerodynamic by itself, but come out quite inefficient with the wrong helmet or helmet position
5. Patience is Key
Getting adjusted to a new position is, just as long-distance triathlon, a patience game.
Adjustments will most probably feel strange, wrong and uncomfortable at first. That does not mean that they are bad, they are just different from what you are used to. Give it some time before you decide if you need further adjustments.
6. Fitting Indoors – Validation Outdoors
The process of a bike fit indoors can be seen as a way of finding the optimal bike position from a theoretical point of view.
When taking the theory out in practice on the road, several new aspects come into play. Lately, advanced tools for validating the theoretical results in practice has become accessible to the average cyclist – aerometers, such as the Notio.
With such a device, you can get real time drag coefficients and other aerodynamic data while out riding. This enables comparison of different race setup regarding race suits, helmets, shoe covers and positions for improvement of the theoretical results obtained indoors. In sports as in science, theory needs validation.
7. Fit your Bike Fitter
A bike fit is not a bike fit. It can be done in several different ways, using a broad range of different tools, protocols and software. Adjusting a road bike is also different from adjusting a TT or triathlon bike due to difference in bike geometry, position and course type. Make sure to choose your bike fitter wisely!
Find one that knows the requirements of your specific needs such as the details of the types of races you are doing, the bike you are riding, crank arm lengths, and other components available. And obviously one that passionately cares about helping you perform to your potential.
8. Trifit or Bikefit?
Initially, you might think that a time trial cyclist and a triathlete would have the same requirements regarding bike position.
There are two very important differences – the duration of the bike leg, and the little run on the end of a triathlon.
These differences should be strongly taken into consideration. In most cases, a triathlete will need a less aggressive position on order to withstand the duration of the bike leg, and to save the hamstring and glutes for the run. Maybe raise the aerobars a tiny bit, to open up your hip flexors? Or even move your saddle a bit towards the front?
Choosing a shorter crank arm or moving the cleats further back might also be a wise choice for building up for a strong marathon. Make sure to test your position out on the road with the run in mind.
And again – find a bike fitter with experience with triathlon if you need a tri-specific position.
9. Get Comfy
10. Have fun!
My last tip, and probably the most important one, is to keep the fun in it!
Finding a position on the bike that allows you to go fast and still be comfortable, will provide you the largest amount of fun and enjoyment while out on the road. Being able to feel good when riding the local roads with your friends gives a satisfaction that can’t be described.
Give yourself the best chance of putting a huge smile on your face – mile after mile!
Hans Christian Tungesvik is riding the Argon 18 E-118 Tri+.
The new Argon 18 E-118 Tri+ is a UCI-legal Tri bike with the lean, low race frame of a TT machine, tailored for an aggressive fit and positioning.