Dodge the Draft

Boulder-born non-drafting poster boy Cameron Dye, shares his tried and tested tips for blasting the 40km bike leg


Coming from a swim background helps with bike mentality as cycling mimics swimming in many ways. In swimming, you chase the black line on the bottom of the pool; in cycling you pretty much just have to ride to get better. But then there’s also the data part of it. Swimming is super specific, with intervals and monitoring how fast you’re going. And I think with cycling you can do everything exactly the same. It’s data and numbers driven.


I was a 200m freestyler in swimming, which is the fastest you can go for a little longer than a sprint. And it’s like that in Olympic-distance racing; it’s the fastest you can go for that uncomfortable amount of time. I’m a strong swimmer, so I’m full speed from when the gun goes off. I swim hard, bike hard and then run as best as I can.


You train, you prep, you show up and see what you’ve got. Non-drafting is pure racing. And you can race Olympic-distance a lot; I love the fact that Olympic-distance athletes can race 15 times a year. You start doing this longer stuff and the guys (and gals) are crashing themselves [physically] to do two or three races a year at long-course and a couple of middle-distance races. I’d rather train a lot and race a lot, instead of training forever and racing very sparingly.


My TT bike is a Fuji Norcom 1.1 with a full Shimano Dura Ace Di2 drivetrain, Shimano C75 front wheel and a Shimano rear disc. I ride the Shimano Missile bars with ski bends and my saddle of choice is the ISM Race. I use Shimano pedals and a Stages power meter.


Tactics in non-drafting racing are very individual. In general, it pays to have
a solid race strategy and stick to it, no matter what else is going on around you. Now, that’s not to say you don’t sometimes have to put out more effort to stay with someone who might be trying to make a move up the road, but in general you stick to the plan that’ll allow you to have the best overall race.


I train with power every session, and absolutely love my Stages power meter. For me the benefits are the constant feedback while I’m out doing my session as well as the ability to track my progress over time. Growing up a swimmer I’ve always trained with constant feedback in the form of a clock on the pool deck, so it was natural to want to be able to get that same feedback on the bike. It allows my coach to design very specific interval sessions, which I can hit exactly by following my power. Also, I think power is a much better measure than heart rate because it isn’t affected by your hydration levels or speed in the way your heart rate is [Dye averages around 350 watts over a 40km bike].


Certainly there are times where the tactic might be to try and break a weaker cyclist by putting in a surge, but personally I like to race off the front from the gun. To me it’s always advantageous to get to the top of a hill first, or have a clean line into corners, so I’d rather be up the road putting time into the field than playing the sit-and-wait game and reacting to what the other guys do.


If you planned to do what I do and go full tilt from the gun, then you’re simply trying to squeeze out a larger gap. If you’re going to wait until a certain place in the course to overtake, then I’d suggest always putting in a surge on an uphill. It will take more effort for your competitors to match the move, and any small difference in power output is magnified dramatically more going uphill at slower speeds that it would downhill. Also, you reach the crest of the hill first and begin the descent while others are still making their way up, which means you then have an even larger speed differential that can increase a lead quickly.


Sometimes people aren’t aggressive enough on the bike in Olympic-distance racing. That’s not to say that you can truly go out and sprint a 40km, but you can certainly push much harder than you would over the course of a 70.3 or Ironman. In general people train on the bike by using their lactate threshold measurement and doing workouts based on a percentage of that. Think about the actual definition of lactic threshold, which is more or less the power that you could hold for an hour if you fell off the bike at the end. With that in mind, someone that’s trying to break an hour on the bike leg of the race should be willing and able to hold their LT for the entirety of the 40km, and through specific training will raise that LT level and thus lower their bike split.


I ride 6-7 days/week, but at least two of those rides will be easy 60min spins. I usually do one hard interval session, which is followed by a run off the bike, as well as a long ride at least once a week with some longer intervals thrown in. About once a month I’ll take the trainers and bikes to the running track and do a brick session, and do a hard interval session in the hills. Getting in some big climbs is great for the mind and builds a lot of strength.