I guess I'll start off by saying that I am not a necessarily experienced rider. After years of doing ultra-marathon running I decided to move to triathlon to cross train. I signed up for a 70.3 a few weeks before it started and turns out I had a knack for triathlon in the swimming(34mins) and running(1hr 40min) section! However, the biking was alright.

I've been training under the guidance of a professional Ironman athlete which has been a world of help(I am training anywhere from 25-29hrs per week). Where we live there is nothing but mountains and rolling hills. Finding a flat area is nearly impossible. I have 3 70.3's which are all flat and fast tt coming up and 2 fulls after which are hilly so no big deal.

I want to know what benefits I gain from training in such mountainous terrain that will transition on the bike on very flat courses.

  • Was your 70.3 bike leg time much greater than 2:45? Were you on a tri bike, and were you well-fitted?
    – R. Chung
    May 17, 2016 at 16:03
  • @R.Chung I was on a tri bike and I wasn't well fitted. However I rode the race in a hard gear. Yes it was just a tad over 3hrs
    – EhBabay
    May 17, 2016 at 16:08
  • I moved from the mountains of Idaho to the flatland of Indiana. For the first couple of years I was very fast compared to all these flatlanders. The strength gained from powering up hills translates nicely into sprint pace and surviving on thin mountain air leaves you nearly choking on oxygen at under 1000' elevation. I didn't find much use for my derailleur, though, as I could find a comfortable, large gear, and cruise all day. I don't think you'll have any issues going from hills to flat. The other way around might be troubling.
    – FreeMan
    May 17, 2016 at 16:25
  • @FreeMan well that's good to hear. bike training here has definitely been a tough experience but has really gotten me fit. bike fitness in general is so new to me that I've never been able to see what my legs can actually do on a flat course.
    – EhBabay
    May 17, 2016 at 16:29

1 Answer 1


You have a specific training question that your coach ought to be able to answer for you, and I will not address that here. A larger general issue is one that I will address, since it is of wider interest.

Your general concern is that you won't be able to simulate race conditions in training, especially long steady output. However, speed is determined by power and drag and you can work on each piece even where you are. A rising tide lifts all boats so the power developed while climbing hills and during intervals will mostly be transferable to longer steadier output, especially if that output is substantially below functional threshold power (as it will be for most half- or full-IM efforts). Similarly, you can work on positioning to minimize drag, on your bike handling in rolling terrain (unless the slopes are too steep and the roads too technical), and changes to minimize rolling resistance.

So, the general answer to your general question is that one can separately evaluate and train the components that make one go fast even if training conditions are different from racing conditions. It just takes a way to measure and evaluate progress in the separate pieces, so you can "translate" variable terrain performance to flat terrain performance.

In your particular situation, look toward the bottom of this bike.SE answer to see an example of time splits for an IM. Your swim and run times put you closer to the front of the pack than the middle, but you have lots of room to improve in your bike split. Your run and swim splits suggest that low power isn't your particular issue -- though you can always work on more. Your bike split time suggests that aero drag is likely to be your issue. Your coach can help you work on aero drag even on uneven terrain. To measure and evaluate improvements both in power and in drag may require some additional instrumentation.

  • 1
    My coach and I think I can do about 29-30 on the swim, I have no power meter or an guage of how fast my legs can turn over on the bike, and I can run a 1:38 half marathon off the bike. The other day I rode 56 miles in 3hrs and 5mins with over 4,500ft of elevation. Don't know if that can tell you anything else.
    – EhBabay
    May 17, 2016 at 16:45
  • 2
    Very nice. Those data are consistent with the idea that your power-to-weight is good but your power-to-aero-drag-area has room for improvement. Your coach should be able to help you find an experienced fitter who specializes both in comfort and drag reduction.
    – R. Chung
    May 19, 2016 at 13:47

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