Last week I managed to pass the 1000 km mark on my bike, so I thought it was about time to pop the hood (so to speak) and share a few details of what I have spent the equivalent of more than a working week riding so far this year.
As I have mentioned in other posts, the bike leg of a triathlon makes up well over 50% of the race, and it is probably for the best given how much of your budget disappears in this discipline.
First up the of course the bike – Until this year I have raced all of my triathlons on a Carrera Fury (see top left photo). Whilst having a pretty cool sounding name, the main problem here is this is a mountain bike. As the name suggests, it goes really well off road, however a flat race is a different bag of tricks, and it is not exactly fast, even with various upgrades such as slick tyres and better pedals. In fact, after being overtaken for the umpteenth time by people far bigger and less fit than me, I could only compare its speed to driving a tractor around an F1 track. So as much as I love the bike, with some long races coming up this year it had to be time for change.
So enter Mark 2, the Carrera Zelos (see top right). Not only is this a real road bike, so designed to be racing around a track or road, but it has plenty of other features I love. First glance, the paint job is black and gold, which matches the Cornish County Rugby colours. Standard features include a decent Shimano chain set, alloy frame (a lot lighter than the MTB) and Tektro dual pivot brakes.
But the bits that excite me are the upgrades I have added (not shown in the above photo as that is a display model – live race photos to follow later this year) such as SPD 540 pedals and Token Aerobars, which are helping transform it from a road bike into a full on triathlon bike. For those who are not familiar with these, the pedals allow my shoes to clip into the bike, making it essentially a part of my foot and allowing a lot more power and efficiency, whilst the aerobars clip onto the handlebars and enable a more aerodynamic position, as well as a welcome change of handgrip which is more than useful in long rides. I will probably write more on these another day to explain how important these features are.
In terms of other riding kit, there is still plenty more to add (oh no, the budget does not stop there). For a start, a bike helmet is usually mandatory when racing – in fact you are often not allowed into the transition area without wearing one, and there are plenty of rules around ensuring you have it on before touching the bike during a race. I have not yet managed to spend a few hundred quid on something ludicrously aerodynamic (I would be better off losing the weight myself first) so mine is a fairly standard Bell helmet. I probably need a bit more practice putting it on under pressure though, as halfway through the first lap of my last race another kindly rider shouted to me that I had it on back to front…
It is also no use having fancy pedals without the right shoes, so I have a pair of DHBs which although made for mountain bikes, do the job pretty well and also have deep enough tread to make running around transition possible, which pretty much cancels out the few extra seconds they take to put on.
The final bits on the bike leg include sunglasses with interchangeable lenses (dark, clear and even yellow for when I want to look like a special forces sniper) depending on the conditions, and of course the obligatory MAMIL uniform of various cycling tops – the current favourite looks like the Dark Side of the Moon album cover – and *shame* far too tight cycling shorts that are absolutely necessary for the full effect.
So there you have it, the full bike gear. I know that everyone reading would really like to see it for real, so give it a few weeks and I will post some action photos which will show this all up and running, although I have to warn you, it really will be blink and you’ll miss it speeds!