Donna Navarro looks at the sport of aquabike and explains why it may be the perfect low-impact option for people who can’t, or won’t, run.
If you feel you are ready for the challenge of a multi-sports event but don’t feel quite ready to commit to a triathlon, an aquabike event may be just the challenge you are looking for.
Aquabike is an endurance sport consisting of two components; a swim stage, either in a pool or in open water such as a lake, followed by a cycle stage along the local roads. Similar to triathlon races, the distances available vary and the sport can therefore be tailored to suit all abilities.
The aquabike scene was first introduced in 2005 in the USA as a pilot programme and proved popular with people who found, that for whatever reason, running was not suited to them. The sport is still popular today with events nationwide.
Here in the UK the aquabike scene is still very much in its infancy. If you can’t find an event local to you, try contacting your local triathlon organiser and asking to participate in the first two stages of a triathlon, finishing your race at the second transition point. Often this option will be available but may not be advertised.
The British Triathlon Federation insures clubs to organise aquabike events, so why not contact your local tri club and see what they have planned? Encourage them to cater for those people that are unable to run, either due to a disability, an injury or simply because they don’t like running!
Triathlon clubs cater for all abilities; if you decide to become a member of your local club they will be able to provide advice and support on nutrition and assist in perfecting your swimming style and cycling technique for that first race.
In August this year, Tri Spirit Events are organising two specific aquabike events, believed to be the first in the UK at sprint and standard distances.
Sprint Distance – 750 metre swim and 20k cycle ride.
Standard Distance – 1500 metre swim and 40km cycle ride.
Olympic and Iron Man distances also exist so contact your local triathlon organiser to see if they are holding aquabike races at these distances.
Who can complete an aquabike?
Everyone who can swim and ride a bike! Swimming and cycling are great for your cardiovascular fitness and for getting fit and toned. Aquabike is particularly good for those looking for a low-impact sport. By eliminating running, aquabike is kinder to those with hip, knee and back injuries and still provides the challenge and thrill of a multi-sports event. For someone like me who is recovering from back surgery it makes perfect sense.
If you do have medical conditions, injuries or are pregnant, please seek advice from a professional before commencing training or competing.
What equipment do I need?
The swim usually takes place in open water so you will need a wet suit to protect against the elements. These can be hired if you do not want to commit to buying one.
A bike to complete your training and the event on is also essential. Ideally opt for a road bike as this is lighter and will help to increase your pace, but a hybrid bike is fine to begin with.
A tri-suit to go under your wetsuit will mean you don’t have to get changed into a completely new outfit ready for the cycle ride and will speed up that all important transition time between the swim and cycle legs.
Road cycling shoes, cleats and clip in pedals will all help your times, but trainers will also be fine for beginners. A cycle helmet is crucial, as you will not be allowed to participate if you do not have one.
Donna Navarro, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Image credit: British Triathlon