What The Pros Are Riding: Mirinda Carfrae
2010 Ironman World Champion and Kona run record holder, Carfrae is just a fast ride away from another world title.
The Ride: Felt DA1 R
With more than 25 professional triathlon wins under her belt, including the 2010 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, Australia’s ‘Rinny’ is one of the most successful triathletes of all time.
Her switch from Cannondale to Felt in the winter of 2010 saw her become involved in the development of the new DA bike, particularly the geometry needed to accommodate her petite 1.61m height.
Our experience testing Felt’s tri bikes has always proved their smoothly comfortable and efficient character would favour lighter, lower powered long-distance athletes like Carfrae. When she joined Felt, the team built her a ride to fit using their 50cm frame and 650c wheels. “They took away my bike after Kona, measured it and built me a bike that was exactly the same fit,” she says.
She was involved in the development of the new 650c wheeled 47cm DA frame straight away though. “There was a time when smaller bikes with 650c wheels were more accepted, but that went away; it wasn’t until 2010 that they said, ‘OK, you can’t really ride a 50cm frame’. I’m always seeking out the most comfortable fit on the bike; it’s like a good pair of jeans, your bike fit is very specific to you.”
The new bike has kept the low front end of her original DA, but with a shorter top tube to allow the use of a standard stem. As Felt only provide framesets for Carfrae, her DA is built up with a full suite of Zipp componentry including R2C tip shifters. SRAM provide the Red Black groupset and Zipp 650c wheels although her set-up is definitely distinctive, with a 58/54 tooth chainring up front.
“I tried riding with shorter cranks but that just didn’t suit me,” she says. “I ride with a low cadence in the 70s and low 80s and run a 58-tooth chainring because when you go to 650c wheels you lose gears. It looks weird but when you do the maths it really is the same gearing as a 53-tooth chainring with 700c wheels.” That means a normally climber-specific WiFli long cage mech out back to cope with the extra chain.
Bag the bike
If you’re a pocket rocket planning to copy Rinny’s ride then you can buy the same frameset for £3,500 and go for a dream DIY build-up. Otherwise for a complete bike, the £6,600 Shimano Di2 DA1 and £6,200 DA2 bikes that bracket it will give you all the speed you need (saddleback.co.uk).
Miranda Carfrae comes from a background of draft-legal triathlon, where solo time trial speed isn’t as vital as it is in Ironman races. So she’s had to work hard on her cycling over the last few years resulting in a 10-minute improvement in her bike split at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii between 2009 and 2010.
With two Kona run course records to her name, Carfrae knows the best route to another world title is on the bike. “The bike for me is where I can make up the most time and it’s something I’ve shifted my focus to this year,” she says. “We’ve changed my position because I’ve never been that aggressive on the bike. And in training, where in the past I would structure my week around two key run sessions, now I’ll still do those runs but might do them on tired legs because my focus is more on key bike sessions.”
As well as putting more into her bike sessions, Carfrae is adding some extra conditioning off the bike to build her pedal power. Although Carfrae admits to being “lazy” when she’s not training, and relies on twice weekly massages rather than hours of stretching to stay in good condition, she has returned to weight training over the last off-season to build her bike strength. “Everybody from Dave Scott to Craig Alexander to Paula Newby-Fraser to Greg Welch recommends weight training!” she says. “I haven’t lifted weights in five or six years, so I’m interested to see what difference that makes. I recognise that I need to ride faster, so we’re taking a few more risks and doing things differently this year
Train Like Mirinda Carfrae
Change your focus
If you’re a strong runner, like Carfrae, it can be easy to assume your bike training will take care of itself, but switch your focus as she did and prioritise two hard bike sessions over everything else each week – even if that means running tired some of the time. Make your long ride and one speed session measurably more intense.
As Carfrae says, all the greats of triathlon recommend weight training so if you can fit in even one session per week without losing recovery time you should see the benefit. Classic moves with free weights, such as slow squats and lunges, are a great way to build strength for the bike as well as improving stability for the run.
This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine. Save time and money by having every issue delivered to your door or digital device by subscribing to the print edition or buying digitally through Zinio or Apple Newsstand.
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