Please say no.
So I was cruising home the other day on my Argon 18 Krypton, a pretty fancy commuter bike I know, looking at all of the bikes and bikers as I passed them. About half way home I started thinking “that isn’t a nice bike” or “dude, how can you ride with running shoes?”. Then it set in; I becoming an ‘elite’ cyclist?
Well wait an minute, how can that be? I am a triathlete, not a cyclist; although I have referred to myself as a ‘roadie’ a couple of times.
Where did that come from?
To be fair, I need to demonstrate what I mean by ‘roadie’; The Rules – Velominati. I think that this list demonstrates what it means to be a ‘roadie’, and the elite view that they have. Not that I am against ‘roadies’. Being a triathlete I don’t typically interact with large cycling groups because drafting is illegal in every race I have compete in, thus no reason to train with one. Us triathletes are a solitary bunch, choosing to ride solo or in small groups. I digress.
When you spend a lot of time on your bike, you get good. I have noticed over the past year that I am getting more comfortable on my bike; leaning into corners, tucking while I descend, and hammering on the climbs. In short, I am having fun while I am riding. I am also a competitive guy. I don’t think that you can enter the world of triathlon without having that competitive spirit.
So put me on a path system as awesome as Calgary’s and there is bound to be at least 15 bikers to set my sights on. This is the situation that I get competitive; be a race, training ride, or apparently commuting into work. When I have someone to target, I can’t help but try to pass them as soon as I can.
Once in a while, there will be a couple drafting along. I like to join them and pretend that I am in the break away at the Tour de France. Haha, maybe the commuter version with panniers and flashing head lamps.
Now, to be clear, I don’t see myself as an ‘elite’ anything. I am just an average joe trying to make it to the finish line in the fastest time possible; hopefully faster than last year. I am definitely not an ‘elite’ athlete. Sure, I have had some decent results but nothing that would put me in anything other than ‘age group’ status.
After this experience, I think I may have to take my foot out of my mouth (or put it back in) and just cycle.
Question: Are you a ‘roadie’? Real or self proclaimed?
Transition is my favorite spot in a race.
I have noticed, over my limited triathlon life, that there seems to be a pattern of the type of racers at any given event. I didn’t give it much thought until my last race, when setting up in transition I noticed a couple of familiar faces. Not actual people I know, but personalities.
So…..hopefully good for a laugh, here are the types I can usually spot out while setting up my bike.
This is his first race, or maybe his first season. Has a bright shinny new bike, all the widgets, and way too much water. All of his gear is transported to transition in a fancy backpack. He can talk the talk, but rarely can he walk the walk. He crumbles after the starting guns goes off and is happy just to cross the finish line. I was this guy once, and so were you.
You know this guy by name and have told stories about him to your buddies. This is the guy everyone wants to be. Fast, sponsored, friendly, and most important, sponsored. Lined up at the waters edge like a drag racer, he dives in with purpose. Coincidentally, this is the last time you will see him until the starting line of the next race.
The Old Guy
Telling stories from Ironman ’96 in between sips of his take out coffee (Tim Horton’s yo!), you think at least there is one guy that you will finish ahead of. His bike is old; you may not even recognize the make and/or model and you are surprised to see just a single water bottle. He passes you 2k into the run.
This guy is just hanging out, only the occasional ‘hello’ as people pass him setting up in transition. He leads out if the water and never looks back. No one would have believed it before the start.
The Young Gun
This kid shows up 5 minutes after transition closes looking like he is hung over, yet doesn’t seem in any rush. All of his gear is in a garbage bag and it consists of shoes, helmet, and sunglasses. That’s it. This is the guy who decided to rack his bike in my spot last year in T2, thanks buddy.
Typically found in packs, not sure why. Safety I guess? They don’t socialize with any other racers except to brag about how fast they were in training. You finish ahead of every single one.
This racer is cheering one everyone he passes, or gets passed by. Volunteers are the main target, with “thanks guys” or “you are awesome” being heard as he zips along the course. Trying to motivate less than happy racers, he has also been known to slap shoulders, backs, or the occasional butt to help get to the top of the hill or start running after an aid station. This is the guy I try to be each race. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
You are not exactly sure why they have signed up for a Half Ironman, and less sure that they will survive. They do survive, and get the loudest cheers coming down the finishing chute. Like Scott Jurek says, it takes more guts to struggle and finish then to win a race.
Dishing advice to a question that nobody asked. “You should rack like this” or “Make sure it is in this gear”. I figure the only way this guy has the time to dish out the piles of advice; he ain’t racing. I have never seen him on the beach, course, or finishing line. Just smile and nod.
Head to your next race, look around transition, and see if you can spot some.
Question: Do you identify with any above? Is any I missed?
“I love all three sports, I couldn’t pick my favorite.”
Liar, eveyone has a favorite.
As I looked out the window on Sunday morning at freezing rain coming down, contemplating if I should head out the door, I thought to myself ‘I really don’t like running, especially in less than ideal weather’. I reserved my run for later that evening, alas on the treadmill, even worse.
Triathlon provides alot of variety; three sports, different gear for each, nutrition, and race strategy just to name a few. This in one of the main reasons why I love this sport. If I had to bike 5 days a week, I would go crazy. Not too mention running; I think I would be a couch potato if that was case.
It did make me think though, what is it about the three sports that I like so much? What is my favorite?
I typically don’t hesitate to pull on the Speedo (sorry for the visual), grab my paddles, and head to the lane for a workout. I enjoy the opportunity to be with my thoughts and air bubbles for an hour. It gives me time to think about everything from life changes to singing my favorite song. Only one problem, I can’t keep track of my laps past 400m because my mind wanders off.
Going fast is what it is all about. Biking is awesome, you can head out on the road and over the course of 40km, you can experience more than you can with any other sport. My typical routes take me through the rural country side of Southern Alberta, which can be amazing, and by amazing I mean great views with wind.
And every roadie/triathlete, at least everyone I have met, digs bikes.
I am not a huge fan of running, never have, never will. When I started this whole triathlon thing, I didn’t run. I didn’t run track or long distance in Junior High or High school; man I wish I did. Mind you, I have come to like it over the last two years. By working on my foot strike and evening out muscle imbalances in my lower body, I have eliminated injury while increasing both distance and speed.
I have read many times that you can’t win a race on the swim, but you certainly lose it. So I needed to focus on it over the last two winter seasons, increasing my efficiency and speed.
My favorite sport? Swimming. It may be that of the three, I am the best at it, but I think it has more to do with the fact that my daughter is a fish as well. We really enjoy leaving mom at home, heading to the pool, and acting like a couple of kids. Easier for me than her sometimes. We do get some disapproving looks while we are having a cannon ball competition, but hey, who cares. Right?
In the future, once we can bike more than 500m without stopping, biking may become my favorite.
Question: What is your favorite sport? Why?
There is no initiation or right of passage, but you can tell when you have become a triathlete.
In a recent blog post, ‘I Could Never Run That Distance’ I explored the reasons why I do what I do. So how do you know when you can call yourself a triathlete? I tried to determine some distigushing characteristics.
Not that I am an expert, or you are a only a triathlete when (insert something here). One thing about this sport I love is that there is no ‘recipe’ that makes a triathlete. Some people come from a swimming background, like myself, and some come from a running background, I wish. The one thing in common though, it took alot of hard work to get where we are, so good job.
If you are like me, you like to make fun of yourself, so I thought i would make this list.
And because it isn’t worth doing unless you are either getting dirty or having fun; that is the family moto in our house.
The collection of bike parts in your garage can rival any bike shop, big or small. In addtion to the standard tires/tubes/pump, most commonly found on my work bench is brake pads, pedal cleats, and foam helment inserts.
Your physio’s recptionist knows you by name, and convieniently, you don’t have to check in at the counter for your appointments any more. For me, it is never the same issue either; one day it is a shin injury, the next a shoulder problem.
You have actually combined ‘just’ with ’10km’ in the same sentence. More than once. Not to mention that most of them are the second workout of the day. Brick anyone?
The smell of chlorine after a lunchtime workout doesn’t bother you, or anyone else in the office anymore. I have never read of any benefits of cholrine on your body, swimsuit, or training aids but that doesn’t stop me from logging +10,000 meters per week.
What is that black mark on my calf? It kinda looks like chain grease. After a long ride Saturday, there was no time to hit the shower before heading out with the family so a ‘baby wipe’ shower had to do.
Laundry is part of your nightly routine, typically just before your evening stretch. When you bike for 90 minutes on Monday, you want to smell fresh for Tuesday’s long run, right?
You have forgot what your shower at home looks like. The shower at the gym on the other hand has become your hang out spot. Sorry for the pun. You carry a toothbrush with you in your gym bag, and more than likely you carry the entire supporting cast along with it.
Your bike is in better mechanical shape than your car is. It is not uncommon to let your car go 1000km past it’s oil change, but heaven forbid you forget to grease your chain after each ride.
Waking up on Sunday morning at 0630 is considered sleeping in. Still got 8 hours of sleep though, couldn’t stay awake past 2100.
The triathlon community is an awesome one to be part of. Everyone I have met, except for a select few, are great individuals who I feel priviledged to meet.
Question: What characteristic do you identify with?