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Triathlon in a nutshell, Part IV: Bike

by Christa on June 13, 2013

in In a Nutshell,Triathlon

Part IV – THE BIKE!

I’m no expert, but I’ve survived a few triathlons ;) Check out Part I, Part II, and Part III!

Ah, the bike. It is my weakest leg of triathlon and I really hope to work on it. I’ve already improved a lot from where I started, but there’s a ton of work to be done! My goal for next season is to make the bike my bitch. RAWR.

Buying a bike:

So we already covered in Part I the things you’ll need to do to TREAT YO SELF to a bike. A great tip I got from my first tri coach (that I did not follow) is to “buy your second bike first.” Well, I bought my first bike first – meaning I didn’t know much about bikes, I got what was a pretty good deal, but then ended up spending more money later because it turned out I bought the Hyundai of bikes and wanted something nicer. Save some money; bikes are pricey.

Butch is a 2011 Giant Avail 3. I got her at Bicycle World. I knew nothing about bikes and they were offering some specials for our TNT team. I had regular pedals with toe cages for most of the first season since I was scuuuuurrrred of clip pedals. But sucked it up and bought ‘em for Oilman 2011 – I knew I needed to get used to them. More on that below. Butch is great for a first bike (and is Charlie-approved), but heavy and not the best fit for me. Now that I knew tri was going to be something I pursued as a sport and hobby on the reg, I wanted something nicer. I have two other friends who ride Avail 3s – Amanda T and Shea! Amanda rode hers in her first Ironman and Shea’s helped her crush the bike at Oceanside! Amanda has since bought her second bike and Shea’s recently got stolen! BOOO (but yay for bike shopping).

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Jeremy is a 2012 Quintana Roo Dulce. I got a good deal on him at Bike Lane in The Woodlands. I knew I wanted a tri bike specifically and started doing my online research. I test rode a few at Bicycle World – I’ve been really pleased with their customer service and they are a JSC/SBS sponsor so wanted to toss them some more business. But I just hadn’t found THE ONE yet. In my research on Cervelo P2s and Felts, I came across the QR Dulce and was intrigued – little did I know that my friend Jordann already rode one! People said that between the Dulce/Seduza (the Dulce is just the “female specific” model, marketing ploy since they’re basically the same; Jess rocks a Seduza – team QR!) and the P2, they couldn’t find the $800 worth of difference. So I went up to Bike Lane to check it out, get a feel for it, test ride. They had the 2011 and 2012 models. The 2011 was camo pink and it was a fantastic deal, but I knew I loved the blue. So I talked him down til I got to a price I could live with. I have to say it’s been worth it. Blue’s my fav color and if you’re going to spend a ton of time on a bike, it better be one you like looking at.  Jeremy is Charlie-approved :)

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Pedals:

When you buy a bike, it’ll probably come with regular pedals. Might have toe cages, might not. You’ll want to start investigating what kind of clips you’ll want. I use SPD-SL. Standard spin bikes use regular SPD (but the bikes at Define Rev can accommodate both!). I was very nervous about clipping in, watched a couple of videos on YouTube (aka where I learn how to do everything):

Now it’s so easy! You get way more power using clip pedals (because you are pulling up on the pedal as well as pushing down) and your feet don’t slip around. It’s just better, ok?

Road Safety:

Some of these should come as common sense, but hey ya never know.

- Helmet: Wear one. Or you could crash and die. This puppy could potentially save yo life, so I’d say it’s pretty important.

- Rules o’ the Road: Follow ‘em. It’s just smart, and drivers get pissed if you don’t. This means you act like you’re a car. You stop at stop signs and red lights, yield when appropriate, etc. Look up your state’s bicycle laws. In Texas, a person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle! You should ride “as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.” Make sure you know what the passing zone is for cars too! I don’t like riding on city streets (see: Tour de Houston Emotional Breakdown 2013) but out on those country roads, they should maintain a safe distance for passing too. Sometimes they don’t, and that pisses me off!

- Group Riding: Ride no more than two across; single file is best. Only the person in front should ride in their aero bars – when you’re in aero, you don’t have access to your brakes, so obviously for safety reasons you might want those in case the lead person swerves, falls, brakes, etc. Communicate with your buddies. Say “car back” if there’s a car coming up behind you, and “car up” if there’s one coming toward you. Point at debris, call out “gravel,” “glass,” whatever it is. Signal when you’re turning. If you want to pass – if it’s my friends I’ll just be like “hey, I’m gonna ride in front of you for a bit,” but if it’s someone I don’t know, I just say, “on your left” and make the pass (remember that in a tri you will only have 15 seconds to make the pass!). And jeez, leave your headphones at home. That is so dangerous!

Where should I ride?

Find a local park to start out – we use the Memorial Park picnic loop and Bear Creek Park. Easy. Go on roads outside the city – we go to Montgomery/Conroe, The Woodlands, Fulshear, Chappell Hill. Find a sponsored ride if you’d rather be around a lot of people. I use the Bike Barn calendar to find local rides (and they also sponsor a free ride once per month!).

What does the bike look like on race day?

Once you’re done in transition, take your bike off the rack and run it toward the Bike Out location (make sure you have your helmet ON and buckled). You cannot mount your bike until after you cross the mount line.

Vroom vroom…

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Make sure you have put your bike into an easy gear, so you can warmup your legs for a minute. Stay to the right unless you are passing! And remember there is NO DRAFTING – you must stay at least 3 bike lengths from the person in front of you. If someone passes you, it is your job to drop back so you don’t get slapped with a penalty.
According to USA Triathlon, these are some of the most common race-day violations:

Position– riding on the left side of the lane without passing.

Blocking – left side riding and impeding the forward progress of another competitor

Illegal Pass – passing on the right.

Overtaken – failing to drop back three bike lengths before re-passing

Drafting – following a leading cyclist closer than three bike lengths and failing to pass within 15 seconds.

Other than that, enjoy! Once you’re done on the bike course, just dismount before the line and run your bike into T2! Don’t forget where you’re racked :)

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What are some other bike tips yall want to offer to some tri newbies?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittany June 17, 2013 at 8:20 am

Nice post with good tips for newbies – so often I see really unsafe riding!

Reply

Christa June 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I know. And I wish cyclists and drivers could work together to make it safer for everyone!

Reply

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