Why you should go for a bike ride the day before your race

Should you go for a bike ride the day before your triathlon? Yes says Nik Cook as it will get your legs ready for racing


Why should you go for a ride the day before a race? Let’s first answer that by explaining why you shouldn’t go for a swim or a run. 


A swim can be okay – it’ll freshen you up but it won’t have the same leg-loosening effect as a ride and, depending on where you swim, you might wind up having to wear a damp wetsuit for your race. A run, no matter how easy, can have a negative impact on your legs. 

A pre-race ride, on the other hand, has no downsides. For a start, you can use your gears to control the intensity of your effort. It’s also zero impact, so you won’t have to worry about any lingering staleness or fatigue in your legs the next day. If you’re already at your race location, you can use the ride to check out parts, or all, of the bike course, which can give you a big advantage in the race. 

Last, and by no means least, a pre-race ride gives you a chance to make sure your bike is working correctly, and time to fix it if it isn’t, allowing you to rule out any T1 mechanical panics.

Quick tip: Apart from a few, short race-pace efforts, stay in the small chainring and focus on easy spinning.

The day-before-race-day ride


Select a low gear and work through the following efforts based on your pedalling cadence. (Note: no RPE is given for the warm-up as it’s all about leg speed. If you start to breathe hard or feel your legs burning, the gear you’ve selected is too high).

0-5mins at 90rpm

5-7mins at 95rpm

7-9mins at 100rpm

9-11mins at 105rpm

11-12.5mins at 110rpm

12.5-13mins at 120-130rpm

13-15mins at 90rpm

15-18mins as 3 x 6sec max-rev efforts Aim to hit 120rpm-plus

54sec recovery

18-20mins at 90rpm

Main set

20-30mins at 90rpm, easy to moderate

30-40mins as 3 x 1min at race pace 1min recovery

40-50mins at 90rpm, easy Include 3 x 6sec max-rev efforts


50-60mins at 80-90rpm, easy, in a very low gear

Adapt for beginners

If you’re worried about this ride leaving you too tired, just do the 20min warm-up followed by the 10min cool-down.

Adapt for Ironman


Just leave it how it is and don’t be tempted to do any more. You’ve done the training; more riding the day before the race isn’t going to make you any fitter. Just trust in your legs.