Review: All the essential tri gear you'll need to race your first triathlon (part 2)
Posted Jan 23 2011 11:00am
Everyday when we get up and check our email, we have loads of mail from people around the world seeking our advice. Of course many, if not all, are seeking our advice on how to transfer money from Nigeria, or perhaps how to best make a lonely young girl from Russia less lonely here in the United States.
But every-so-often we will get an email that asks something that actually has to do with triathlon, and does not involve the purchase of expensive software or cheap Viagra.
That’s why we’ve created this complete EverymanTri Gear Guide. So let’s keep this ball rolling and move right to the bike segment of a triathlon.
4) The Bicycle
The bike is without a doubt the most expensive, the most debated, and perhaps the most crucial piece of tri gear. Countless hours and countless words have been written about the pros and cons of the many different types, styles, and brands of bikes available to any aspiring triathlete. Much has been said and debated about the various components, frames, wheels, and even tires that make up the perfect triathlon bike.
Forget all that!
When you really think about it, only one thing really matters on a bike…the paint job. Yes it may seem trivial at first, but if we are really honest with ourselves, it’s all about the paint.
To prove my point let me ask you a simple question. Would you buy and ride a really ugly bike? Of course you would not.
Now flip that question around. Would you buy a really cool looking bike even if it didn’t have the best components wheels and tires? Of course you wouldn't.
Because for the Everyman and Everywoman, it's not all about how fast we go, but how good we look on the bike. “But Roman that’s so shallow and I think you are just dead wrong,” you say with righteous indignation.
Let’s face it gang, on any given Sunday most of us are not exactly racing for the podium. So, if we can’t win, we might as well look like the folks who are winning by having the coolest looking bike in the race. I’m sure you have noticed that the pros, who do win, always have the coolest looking bikes.
So to sum up, the best Everyman bike is one that looks the hottest. Because your bike should say: “Even though I’m not leading the field, I could if I decided to really push the pace…so watch out!”
5) The Helmet
Over the last several years, the once simple bike helmet has morphed and stretched into an aerodynamic foil of the highest caliber. More and more age-groupers are wearing the same high tech helmets that the pros are wearing. And boy do they look like a bunch of math whiz geeky cone head nerds. It’s like they got out their calculators and spent the day figuring out how much easier it would be to make a helmet slightly more slippery versus actually getting on the bike and just riding.
What’s worse, these very expensive aero helmets start at several hundred dollars and go up in price. Today you can easily spend as much on a carbon aero helmet with a fancy Italian name as on a basic road bike. That’s why the Everyman triathlete guide recommends that you go ‘old School’ when it comes to your choice of helmets.
Do you remember those old leather strap helmets that great riders of the past like Eddie Merckx wore to numerous tour victories? Nothing says that you are hardcore and indeed very serious like a few skimpy leather straps barely tethered to your head.
Unlike all those other “weekend warriors” who wear the wimpy full head helmets, you are ready to risk serious and life long brain injury by protecting your head with only a half a dozen flimsy straps of leather.
When the other rider and official eventually ask about the ‘old school’ head gear just tell them, “If it was good enough for Eddie Merckx, it is certainly good enough for me.” Then ride away on that hot bike. You can’t help but respect anybody willing to risk a life and limb just for a weekend tri.
Plus they’ll know that not only are you a bit crazy, but you don’t give a damn about the shape of your head, just the size of your thighs.
6) Race Suit:
I recall one of my first Olympic distance races. I came flying out of the pool (this was a pool swim) heading outside toward transition only to be stopped dead in my tracks by a bare butt sighting. Now there is nothing wrong with a bare butt at the right time and the right place. And this one happened to belong to a rather curvaceous triathlete. However this was certainly not the right time nor the place for anything else...including changing into bike shorts.
Transitions are free time so don’t waste them putting on your favorite biking shorts and shirts Transition also tend to be a time of profound confusion for most of us. Why add another layer of worry by changing clothes.
Once a year I race this little local sprint triathlon that I use as a baseline measure of my fitness. Last year I improved my time by about 10 minutes. Five of those minutes came from a faster transition time. I understand that 5 minutes may not seem like a lot, but try lowering your 5K time by 5 minutes. I bet that’s gonna cost a lot more time, effort, and money than a new race outfit.
7) Bike Shorts
Let’s face it. There is just something about the way that bike shorts are designed that make even the tightest and firmest butts look big and–-for men--other body parts look small. Just take a good look at the professional men and women riders of the world and you’ll be horrified at how huge their butts look in cycling shorts.
Perhaps it is the way the tight-fitting rubber bands of the waists and thighs squeeze the skin making even one percent of body fat bulge and turn into cottage cheese. Or perhaps it is the combination of tight shorts and even tighter bike tops that make the butt just seem so massive in comparison.
Whatever unfortunate optical trick is the cause of this problem, the solution is clear….skin toned bike shorts. Not only would these blend with the skin to create a better optical illusion of sheer form and flowing beauty, but they would also be a huge boost to rider safety. You can bet that every driver of every car would now notice the cyclist and gladly share the road just to get a closer look.
* Tomorrow I review all the important clothes and gear you’ll need on the run portion of the triathlon.
Roman Mica is a columnist, journalist, author, and managing Editor of EverymanTri.com. When he's not reviewing tri gear or cars for TFLcar.com , you can find him training for triathlons and writing about endurance sports. He recently had a new book published, entitled "No, Seriously, My Training Begins Tomorrow: The Everyman's Guide to IRONFIT Swimming, Cycling & Running." Both books are also available from www.Amazon.com by clicking HERE .