This is post #3 for my English Class! I mean if I have to write them anyways it would be silly not to share them with all of you too!
Okay so I know that triathlon still sounds like a foreign country to most of you. The vast quantity and kinds of bikes out there may be very confusing for the beginner triathlete.
I will break it up into what I see as three distinct categories of triathlon, which each require a different style of bike.
First we have X-Terra, this style of racing is more off road, in that the bike and runs are usually on trails. The type of bike used for this race is usually some sort of mountain bike. The features that are most important when selecting a bike for an off-road triathlon are: Suspension, Tire Selection, Wheel Size, Gearing and Weight.
The next style of bike is a Triathlon Bike. Often referred to as a TT bike, which stands for time trial. As you can see in the photo the position in which I am sitting reduces drag from airflow around the bike and myself. The frame of an aerodynamically designed bike is often slightly heavier than one would expect. The extra weight comes from the wider frame, which is designed to best direct the air. Leaning on the aerobars is critical for a non-draft legal race, it allows a rider to sit comfortably for long distances and again, directs the air. The funky alien helmet I’m wearing is an aero helmet. With a non-draft race, everything is done to eliminate or reduce drag on the bike. Therefore, pretty much anything associated with it will be considered “aero”. From the video I posted in my first blog (English Blog #1, see video here), you may remember the actor raising and lowering his head asking: “Is this more aero? Or this?”
…I would totally be lying if I said that I haven’t worn my helmet in a mirror and asked myself the exact same question. It’s a tri-geek thing.
The third type of bike is a standard road bike. There are of course lighter, race bikes, but this is the classic bike people think of when thinking of a cyclist. It has drop down handlebars, and normal “skinny” tires. This bike is used in Draft legal racing. This type of racing is sanctioned by the ITU or International Triathlon Union. It is the same style of racing that is used in the Olympics. The difference in this kind of race is that the participants are allowed to ride in a group, or draft off each other. This creates a whole new element in racing. There is a lot of strategy that goes into this style of racing.
There are many other elements that differentiate draft legal from non-draft legal. I will describe these and the difference between various distances in a later post.
Okay so three different kinds of bikes, but which one??
Since I do road triathlons, I started out on a beast of a bike. A Schwinn Fastback was all I could afford, but I loved my blue monster dearly. It was a great bike for someone so new to cycling. Technically I learned how to ride a bike when I was 8, but lets be honest, I was a terror to anyone around me when I first started riding that thing September of 2009. It was just a simple road bike, but it worked. I didn’t come to own lovely black and pink Dulce Quintana Roo, that you see in the second picture, till before I went to USAT Collegiate Nationals in 2011.
So where am I going with all of this?
You don’t have to have a crazy expensive, high-tech bike for you first, second or even 7th triathlon! There are many possible options, until you find it necessary to have both a road bike and a triathlon bike. For instance for road bikes it is possible to purchase aero handlebars that you simply attach to the front with a few screws, and voila! A Road/Tri bike!
Don’t be scared of entering the sport because of the seemingly daunting cost of a bike. You could do it on the $20 garage sale clunker you found at your neighbors. The most important thing to remember in any race is to have… well FUN of course!
Countdown: 18 days till the Toyota US Open Triathlon! …the team of race butterflies has been chosen, practice begins soon!