Karen Parnell

How to Ride your IRONMAN or Triathlon Bike Route before Race Day

July 15, 2022

riding ironman or triathlon courses at home virtually

If you are travelling to another country or a long way for your next triathlon, then you may not be able to ride the course physically before your race. As you know it’s a good idea to ride the course to understand how to attack the climbs and also appreciate the length of descents and the parts of the course where you can get aero.

Even if you can’t get to the route before your event there are a few ways to ride your triathlon course virtually throughout your training using several home trainer Apps. You won’t be able to hone your cycling technical skills like descending and cornering, but you will know how long the climbs are and how hard you can attack them plus appreciate the gradients involved.

You can create courses for long events like IRONMAN or even your local sprint distance triathlon as long as you have the GPX file of the route. You can also use these techniques for road cycling events and races.

A GPX file or GPS Exchange Format, is a common file format designed as a way to share GPS data and for use in software applications. It can be used to describe waypoints, tracks, and routes. It is an open format and can be used without the need to pay license fees.

You will need a smart or intelligent home indoor trainer (such as an Wahoo KICKR Core) and one of the Apps below to ride your IRONMAN or other triathlon cycling route before your race at home and I’ve detailed below the techniques I have used to replicate the various courses and races.

 

FREE 31 indoor cycling sessions for Zwift, Rouvy and TrainerRoad

 

FulGaz IRONMAN Courses

FulGaz was recently purchased by IRONMAN and as expected they are rapidly adding the IRONMAN bike routes to their App. These are filmed routes so not only do you get to experience the accents and descents physically via your smart trainer, but you get to see the route in its entirety visually – every stop sign, intersection and more. In their latest release they added the following routes to their manly US based IRONMAN routes. The routes are adjusted to your profile stats which includes your FTP.

IRONMAN Frankfurt European Championship, Germany

IRONMAN Copenhagen

IRONMAN 70.3 Maastricht, The Netherlands

IRONMAN 70.3 Pays d'Aix-en-Provence, France

IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire, UK

IRONMAN 70.3 Les Sables d'Olonne, France

IRONMAN 70.3 Vichy, France.

IRONMAN Wales, UK

Fulgaz is available on many devices for you to ride your IRONMAN bike route

In Fulgaz you ride the course visually as they have made a video of the actual course. The App adjusts your resistance based on the terrain so you get a more realistic sensation of seeing and riding the route you will be racing.

They have a 14-day free trial so you can see if this suits your needs.

After the trial Fulgaz is £9.99/$12/€11 per month.

 

Zwift to Ride your Triathlon Course

You can ride specific profiles from any bike route on Zwift but this is a bit more manual. You need to find the full GPX file (i.e GPS route and elevation data) of your course and then convert it to a ZWO file for use on Zwift. The best way to do this is use an App called Best Bike Split where you can create a file based on your FTP, weight, bike, predicted speed etc.

If you want a more basic ZWO file with less personalisation you can use a tool on Whatsonzwift.com.

Zwift riding triathlon courses

Zwift can be used as a platform to ride your triathlon bike course using a GPX file converted to ZWO

Once you have created your ZWO file you can upload it to Zwift, choose a Zwift world and cycle the profile while enjoying the world course and seeing fellow riders or even watch Netflix! As you cycle your smart turbo trainer will adjust the resistance you feel to mimic the uphill’s and downhills of your specific race course.

You can try Zwift for free for 7-days and see if this works for you.

After your 7-day trial Zwift is $14.99/£12.99/€14.99 per month.

 

FREE 31 indoor cycling sessions for Zwift, Rouvy and TrainerRoad

 

Wahoo X & RGT Magic Roads

Wahoo is hoovering up companies at the moment and have absorbed The Sufferfest into Wahoo SYSTM and Road Grand Tours (RGT) in to Wahoo RGT which you can access under one subscription called Wahoo X.

The good news is with the addition of RGT you can ride “magic roads” which means you can upload your race route and ride it on the platform. All you need to do is upload the GPX file of any route and within minutes Wahoo RGT’s Magic Roads feature will build an accurate, realistic version of the route based on your stats in the virtual world that you can ride either alone or with friends.

wahoo rgt magic roads ride triathlon

Wahoo X now includes Road Grand Tours (RGT) which has magic roads where you can ride your triathlon bike course

 

Uploading a Magic Road to your RGT Library

Simply email a .GPX file less than 100km in length to magicroads@rgtcycling.com from the email address associated with your Wahoo RGT account. You will get an email confirmation when the process is complete, and this will take about five minutes.

This is limited to 100km and if you are training for a full IRONMAN which is 180km you will need to upload it in two parts which can b a bit tricky unless the IRONMAN you are doing is on a 70.3 course which usually means you ride the 90km twice so you can use this instead.

Wahoo X also has a free trial and theirs is 14 days.

After your trail it is £12/$14.99/€14.99 per month.

 

Rouvy Custom Routes

Rouvy sets itself apart by using video footage of the actual roads it simulates and by having a massive library of routes to choose from. Rouvy has standard and "augmented reality" or AR routes. In AR routes you can have an Avatar on the route.

Like the other Apps you can upload your route in the form of a GPX file if you can't find your race route in their extensive library which currently stands at over 10,000 real video routes.

Rouvy also integrates with Google Earth to allow you to create virtual routes by selecting a start point and then dropping points on the map, similar to how you would when using mapping software to create routes for your GPS bike computer.

Done this way, there’s no need to have ridden a course before making a Rouvy route for it.

If you have already ridden it and have an action camera like a GoPro, Rouvy also enables users to upload ride videos and sync them with the custom routes.

Rouvy has a free trial and is 14 days.

After your trail it is £12/$15/€15 per month.

 

FREE 31 indoor cycling sessions for Zwift, Rouvy and TrainerRoad

Rouvy riding routes of your triathlon

 

Training Tips: Using your Triathlon Course Route

Now you have your exact triathlon bike route on your favourite platform how should you use it?

I would advise getting your route converted for use on your platform early in your training plan. During the base/general preparation phase you can use it to train on for those long rides and match the time you spend on it to your plan. I would not do this every week but when you need to train inside due to time constraints or weather.

As you further in to your plan (specific preparation/build phase) your long rides will get much longer if you are aiming for a full IRONMAN but I would not advise doing the full course in one go indoors. You could split the route say two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening to get four hours on your course and give yourself a break in between sessions but still get the training effect and daily load requirements.

Even closer to race day (competitive/peak phases) it will be a balancing act between honing your technical bike skills like descending, cornering and transition and learning the course. So make sure you spend time outside on the road and inside on the trainer riding your course. As you know hours on the indoor trainer can take more of a toll on your back and bottom as you don't tend to move, shuffle and free wheel on an indoor trainer. Getting off the bike and shaking things out is a good idea to ensure good blood flow and release any tension.

Conclusion

Depending on your target event you can ride your IRONMAN or triathlon bike route before race day on a number of different platforms or Apps. For IRONMAN events FulGaz is more realistic as you will see video of the actual course for full familiarisation.

If you are already using Zwift then this could be the option for you as you can take a GPX file and convert to a ZWO file for use on Zwift.

Wahoo X via the newly acquired RGT App and it’s “magic roads” features allows you to also take a GPX file and ride the course in a virtual world. Wahoo X has a lot of new features through it’s acquisition of The Sufferfest and RGT such a strength training, mind training and yoga so I would recommend trying it for free for 14-days.

Rouvy has over 10,000 real routes to choose from and if you don't see your specific race route you can upload your GPX file and ride it plus you can also upload your own route video if you have one and share it with other users.

Whatever App you choose there is a way to ensure you train optimally for your next race.


FREE 31 indoor cycling sessions for Zwift, Rouvy and TrainerRoad

 

If you would like a training plan for your next race and my coaching support to make sure you are ready for race day take a look at my training plans on FinalSurge.


Ka
ren Parnell is a Level 3 British Triathlon and IRONMAN Certified Coach, NASM Personal Trainer and Sports Technology Writer.

riding an ironman or triathlon bike course faq

Riding your IRONMAN Course FAQ

What is a GPX file?

A GPX file, also known as a GPS Exchange Format file, is simply a text file with geographic information such as waypoints, tracks, and routes saved in it.

Where can I find the GPX file of an IRONMAN event?

IRONMAN usually provides a GPX file of the bike course under the course details area on the IRONMAN event website.

Where can I find GPX files for triathlon and bike races?

Most triathlon and cycling events provide a GPX file detailing the route for free download. You can also find routes on Strava and Alltrails.com.

References

Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPS_Exchange_Format