My gear addiction has gone to the next level and I might add not without some amount of guilt, fear and trepidation. I have now taken the plunge and purchased an awesome über cool Felt B12 triathlon bike a/k/a “Ace”.
Being a competitive swimmer in my former life…I’m not talking Olympic quality or even top 10 college level, but rather being a swimmer as a child and through High School. And, those of you who are in this camp will generally attest that once a swimmer, ALWAYS a swimmer. Anyway, my point here is that I had assumed that swimming would be the strong suit of my TRI-fecta. But, NO, who’d believe it is the bike?! Who knows why, I sure don’t!? But those are the facts.
Until I purchased my Giant road bike a/k/a “Zen Boy”, who by the way I adore, I had not been on a road bike since my teenage years. I am not a technically trained cyclist, I do not understand gear ratios, I do not know all the fancy hand signals… I honestly just shift on feel, follow the basic rules of the road and it seems to work reasonably well. But, was I satisfied with my performance on the bike? Was I willing to say hey I’m strong enough on the bike and swim to be an age-group contender at some Sprint distance races cuz there isn’t enough time for the fast runners (since I’m a penguin runner) to catch up on my lead? Oh NO, couldn’t do that, could I?! The reported 1-3 MPH extra speed on a TRI bike had me like a moth to a flame.
And…now I have a sparkling new, speed machine in my garage that frankly scares the crap out of me more than just a little! But then looking back, the first time I clipped my SPDs into my clipless pedals on Zen Boy back in 2011 I was pretty darn freaked out. So hopefully I’ll work my way through the pit in my stomach and adjust to the Look KEO cleats and aero position, and shifting and breaking being on separated parts of the bike and my Ace and I will work together smoothly and safely as a streamlined biking machine.
Ask any Triathlete and they will tell you that triathlon is NOT an inexpensive sport. I’m sure you can get by on a minimum budget. But for folks that like gear, gear that is intended you make you look great and/or compete better or maybe, I suppose in some cases, both, you can drop some serious cash. Tri suit, check, sun glasses, check, bike gloves, check, bike shoes, check, running shoes, check, running hat, check, sports nutrition, check. Can’t you just hear that credit card machine churning out receipts? It did and it still does…I am a self professed gear junkie.
My first lap swim was interesting. In my days as a swimmer I would compete in the 500 yard freestyle which is 20 lengths of the pool. So I thought, I’ll just swim a nice easy 500, of note is the fact that the swim portion of my first TRI was a 450 yard pool swim. After two, yes 2 lengths of the pool I was completely winded and thought how on earth did I EVER race a 500 free. I was concerned, if I couldn’t easily swim 50 yards how was I going to comfortably race 450 yards and then tack on a 12 mile bike ride and then run a 5K? Hello friends at Swim Labs (www.swimlabs.com), one 30 minute lesson to tune up my breathing and stroke technique and I was off and running…or rather swimming. Was I headed to the Olympic swim trials? Nope, but I could feel my groove again in the water.
Next challenge was running. First time on the treadmill I could not run a quarter mile, approximately 3 minutes, without being anaerobic. This isn’t just breathing hard but truly out of breath. Really, how could I be fit and not handle a short run? I soon realized that each of the different components of fitness and triathlon training require difference types of skill, technique and endurance. After a running lesson with Cary, I started to improve my ability to run for longer periods of time without feeling like I needed “the bucket”.
On to the bike, enter Zen, or actually “Zen Boy”, (doesn’t everyone name their bike?) my beautiful Giant Avail Advanced road bike. I shopped pretty extensively with the help and research efforts of #1 guy Keith. I looked at Cannondale, Trek, Orbea, Specialized and Giant road bikes. While I liked all the bikes, I fell in love with Giant. Plus the guys at Giant Cycling (http://giantdenver.com/) were great! Now this may sound stupid, but bikes have changed considerably since my old ten speed days so I needed help with the fundamentals. Like how to shift, break, plus there was the small matter of bike shoes. Talk about being patient, and thankfully NOT making me feel like a total doofus, Joe V at Giant Cycling coached me through shifting, breaking, clipping and unclipping on the in-store Cycleops trainer. Thank you Joe V!