Bike, or bicycle. It is generally defined as a vehicle with two wheels, a frame, pedals and a handlebar. For the multisport community, it is also known as the wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend, and sometimes as a mistress too because it is “sensitive and needs to be dearly cared for”. For men, it may be the source of tension especially if the spouse is a non-rider; RM30k in cash can be brushed off by a RM15k bike because “the shop has a last piece”. And for women, the bike becomes an excuse for retail therapy with endless apparel and accessories to match the bike colour.

There is no denying that if you have signed up for Powerman Malaysia next month, your bike will be the most expensive item, more than all your other gear, apparel, nutrition and training combined. Beyond looking good, your bike needs to, first and foremost, be safe.

ToughASIA sought the advice of Team TIME Triathlon head coach, Lini Kazim, on “all things bike” to prepare you for Powerman Malaysia.

Team TIME Triathlon was set up 5 years ago by Steve Lumley. At any one time, they have about 30 to 40 athletes. Their Development Squad is open to all, with time trials required for their High-Performance Squad. They take part in all multisport events and you can probably see them training 4 to 5 times per week, mainly at University Malaya. For next month’s Powerman Malaysia, Team TIME Triathlon will have Jason Loh competing in the elite category.

What is your advice to keep your bike in tip-top condition as you train for the Powerman race? What are the usual things you look out for?
Lini: Do the following:
Wash and clean your bike after every ride, if possible
Check and lubricate the chain regularly to improve performance and avoid early wear and tear
For tyres, look out for signs of cuts, cracks, and worn out surfaces and sidewalls
Ensure the brakes and shifter cables are in good and smooth condition.
Ensure accurate gear indexing and smooth gear shifting
Use suitable brake pads for specific wheel types. For example, carbon pads with carbon wheels
Change the bar tape regularly to avoid handlebar corrosion

 

What are the things you can maintain on your own?
Lini: They are:
Generic bike wash
Minor cleaning. Degrease and re-lubricate the chain
Minor tuning
Tyre and tube change

 

What are the kinds of things that would require you to send it to a bike shop?
Lini: Leave these things to the professionals:
Bottom bracket, front and rear derailleur, shifters, levers, bearings, electronics mechanism maintenance
Chain, cables, bar tape replacement or upgrades

 

What are some bike skills that Powerman duathletes need to train for? Bear in mind there will be close to 4,000 bikes on the course, over two loops.
Lini: You should be able to:
Manoeuvre your bike well with TT bar, if you are using one
Drink and eat light food on the bike, especially with gels and bars
Be aware of overtaking cyclists within the stipulated time frame according to Powerman rules to avoid a drafting violation
Mount and dismount confidently without wasting much time
handle your bike skilfully on the narrow transition path

 

How do you learn how to change tyres?
Lini: There are quite a few things to learn:
Refer to some educational videos online or from friends
Practise removing and replacing tyres or tubes repetitively until familiar
Bring spares for tubular tyres or tubes with CO2 canisters and levers
Slightly stretch the new tubular tyre before the race day to ease and ensure smooth replacement during the change
Alternatively, bring ‘Pit Stop’ (a combination of sealant + co2) – to reduce weight
Ultimately, practise completing a tube replacement in under 3 minutes!

BIKE CHECK-IN DAY

What are some tips or hacks you can share when duathletes check in their bikes?
Lini: Some tips for you:
Do not fully inflate the tyres before checking in. Fully inflate on race day morning
A bike cover is not compulsory but you are encouraged to avoid wet elbow pads during race day, electronics malfunction or a rusted chain if there is a chance of rain
Avoid putting tools, electronic devices and spares attached to your bike before race day

 

RACE DAY

What are the things to do when duathletes check their bikes in the morning?
Lini: These are the essentials:
Tune the gears
Lubricate the chain
Attach a spare tube or tyre and lever on the bike
Tape gels or other nutrition to the bike
Fill cycling bottles with nutrition
Ensure electronic devices are on standby mode
Attach cycling shoes to pedals using rubber bands (if applicable)
Check tyre pressure
Ensure rims are not rubbing the brakes
Check all screws for major components are tightened
Ensure additional nutrition, visor, sunglasses, running shoes are well-positioned to be ready for the second run leg

 

Powerman is a non-drafting race. How do you ensure that you are not drafting, and avoid penalties?
Lini: You need to follow the rules:
Get to know the duration allowed for overtaking
Get to know the gap – front and back – allowed between cyclists and to the side, to stay away from drafting zone
Do not litter on the racecourse, except at littering zones
Estimate about 5 bike-length gap between cyclists

 

What should you do if you get a tyre puncture, chain or other issues?
Lini: Take note of the following:
Slow down safely at the side of the road to do the necessary diagnostic checks
Do not seek roadside or outsider assistance as it will be a violation of Powerman rules
Check whether your tools can help with your problem, if not, try your luck waving for another athlete’s help. Who knows they could lend you their tools or spares!
If it is a mechanical problem that cannot be fixed, get a marshal’s attention to assist sending you back to base. If it is close to base…. run back! Then, maybe even continue the race after you have fixed the issue

 

Putrajaya is a hot place to race in, with slopes and sharp corners. What tips do you have for the bike leg?
Lini:
Understand the racecourse and the elevation well
Strategise on the energy execution and compliment with adequate nutrition
Be patient and avoid letting other external distractions disrupt your race plan

A comprehensive checklist, indeed. You are now all set for the biggest duathlon race in Malaysia.