Runner up at the 2011 Ironman World Championships, Jacobs is now slashing his bike time to add to his legendary run split.
The Ride: Boardman AIR TT 9.8
If there was one bike that legendary time triallist, track record holder and now bike designer Chris Boardman was bound to receive a lot of attention for it was his dedicated time trial and triathlon bike.
While the Lotus bike that Boardman took to world record, Olympic and Tour de France glory was an ultra radical design, he’s taken a more measured approach for the range of aero bikes he’s put his name to. “I like to think our bikes are elegantly simple and practical to use,” he says. “You can point to any centimetre on any bike we produce and say ‘why is that like that?’ and I’ll be able to give you a proper, provable performance reason why it is that shape, size, or why something exists.”
The front brake is hidden in the back of the fork but there are no chopped tails, extended blade sections or cunning fairings in the shape of integrated bottles or seat packs. Instead, cleanly aero efficient (in headwind or crosswind) frame tubes with carefully thought out and lined internal cabling minimise drag, while oversized chainstays and BB30 bottom bracket and dinner plate crank maximise drive. Boardman’s age-ripened geometry template syncs with super friendly Zipp wheels to create a super surefooted bike that lets Jacobs focus all his attention on the horizon rather than the handling. “I like the fact that it’s simple, light and aerodynamic,” says Jacobs. “It’s just got everything it needs, and nothing that it doesn’t.”
The reversible seatpost makes achieving a run-friendly steep seat angle easy – essential for Jacobs’ sub-2:45 Ironman runs – and position and overall manners are pitch perfect with minimal cockpit tweaking.
Bag the bike
Unlike most tri bike families, the whole four-bike Boardman AiR TT family share the same chassis which makes the £2,000 AiR TT 9.0 a total upgrade value bike. The complete 9.8 as ridden by Jacobs will set you back a relatively reasonable £7,000 (boardmanbikes.com).
Jacobs spends around 16-17 hours of his 20-25-hour weekly training volume on the bike. “I know I’ve got a weakness there; I’m happy to admit that because you’ve got to admit your weaknesses to improve them,” he says.
Jacobs will be heading to the wind tunnel for the first time this year to hone his position. “I think I’m fairly aerodynamic in the position I’ve got, I’ve just chosen it by feel and I’ve never had a problem running off the bike, but there are small changes we can make in the set-up and the equipment.”
Jacobs has also talked about the difference his nutrition made to bring him a second-place Hawaii finish last year. “The biggest difference I made was that I had a solid nutrition plan, more planned and thought out than ever before thanks to the brains behind Shotz Nutrition. [Darryl Griffiths from Shotz] will ring and speak to an age grouper that has questions just the same as he rings and speaks to me about my plan for Kona.
“My plan was a few gels every hour, along with bottles of Shotz Salt Tabs with an extra gel in each. We had planned for the inevitable, which was missing my special needs bag on the bike section. So I was prepared with a concentrated bottle of salt tablets, and plenty of gels. They were packed like sardines into my stem bag, my back pocket and even my tri short legs. Being prepared was the difference this year. Both in the weeks and days leading up to and during the race I was ready early.”
Train Like Pete Jacobs
No matter what you do in training, you still need to get your race-day nutrition right in order to ride a fast Ironman bike leg like Jacobs. You’ll need a litre of liquid every hour (depending on your sweat rate and the conditions) and between 300 and 600 calories of carbohydrate per hour depending on your size and the race intensity. If it’s humid or you’re a salty sweater, you’ll need to consume extra salt too.
It’s not easy to consume carbohydrate during a long-distance race such as an Ironman because the oxygen in your bloodstream gets diverted to your working muscles, and away from your gut. So the more tired you get, the more you’ll struggle to digest gels, bars and sports drinks. This is why Ironman triathletes often feel sick and also why they revert to simple carbohydrates like cola and water, as they provide a quick energy fix the moment they enter your blood stream. Research also shows that you can condition your gut to accept certain types of food and drinks, by always using them in training.
Wind tunnel testing
If you fancy hitting the wind tunnel like Jacobs there are several to choose from in the UK. The main one for public use is the Mercedes-Petronas F1 facility in Northampton. Check out Drag2Zero.co.uk for more information but brace yourself first, because it’ll set you back a cool £900 for two hours.
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.
You’ll find loads more triathlon news, reviews, training info and insight at triradar.com