In order to ensure that any newbies to triathlons feel comfortable with the place in which they are beginning in this sport, and some of you seemed to relate to my first blog, I’ll put my head on the chopping block and lay it all out there for you.
I have no f&%$ing idea about swimming or riding bikes. Running, that’s natural right? Everyone can do that. One leg in front of the other … BAM…. You’re moving.
Not the case with riding and swimming. To be honest, the only reason I entertained this triathlon thing to start with rather than just sticking with running was because pro runners look kind of anorexic & half dead… but tri chicks have REALLY awesome legs. I figure that’s a pretty good reason to torture myself on a daily basis.
So… I started this journey (according to the text below) 21 days ago.
After quite a bit of heckling over the message above
“make sure you remove the basket off the bike before you start training”
“how tall are you?” “165cms” “Let’s see what they have available in kids bikes”, I’ve secured a TT bike. My bike has been to Kona and it’s awesome.
Before getting into the details, for other newbies like me – my commuter bike (with the basket, spokie dokies and handle bar ribbons did 22km/hr around the Nundah Crit track, I secured a TT bike a week later which on it’s own (I promise you there was no improvement in my talent) averaged around 27km/hr. So newbies… THE. BIKE. MATTERS.
As an experienced tri-chick i.e. a good 16 days into training, let’s talk about how to get started with the bike and break down what’s going through your head right now.
1. Buying a bike
I can’t emphasise the importance of this step. Since joining the CF team I’ve learnt that some of these tri people spend more money on their bikes than I spend on my car (and that… along with my crap parking skills was pointed out to me during the process).
A couple of weeks ago there was a storm in Brisbane. As I was running outside with my king sized doona to put over my car (with a Tupperware container to collect the hail for my twin 11 year old boys who asked me to “bring the snow back inside”) I thought about what these bike people would do if they were in my shoes (first of all – they wouldn’t be doing too much, their shoes freaking clip in, so they’d be attached to their bikes and unable to respond as quickly as I did. Besides, their bikes are probably safely tucked away in their beds with their king sized doonas warmly wrapping around their extremities whilst their spouses have been banished to another room due to their bikes taking on the #1 love interest in their life. I digress. I’m sorry. Bike people are so not weird.
Now as an experienced tri-chick, at 2.5 weeks in, I don’t question this anymore. They don’t give a shit about their cars. It’s all about the bike, and all of a sudden this seems quite reasonable to me. I mean, I’m now spending longer on my bike each week than in my car. I heart my bike now too (just not the seat… the seat sucks – but we’ll talk about that too).
Seriously, I can’t offer you any advice on how to buy a bike, except – join a club and get them to help you. I picked up a bargain by doing this. << Just do that. Actually – join my team – Team CF, they are amazing. Click here. They’ll help you.
2. The first ride… will I look like a complete Dick?
Yes. Yes you will.
You will turn up to the Crit track / a random bike track at prime time holding your breath, hoping like hell that it’s clear for you to do your thing without an audience. It won’t happen. Accept it now. Bike people are kind of weird. They get up early, they go in packs, they wear their lycra confidently and will be EVERY.FUCKING.WHERE. You can’t avoid them.
Actually, make a choice. You can avoid them if you take to the Crit track or paths at approximately 7:30pm, but if you do this take along your swim goggles and a Covid mask. The night I did that I consumed more protein than the rest of the week combined. Bloody bugs everywhere.
My advice? Ditch your care factor and ride your bike baby!!! Ride it like you’re a Vegas…. Sorry. Again I digress.
Seriously, join a team so you can get tips like:
- “Yeah, you need to buy bike pants with padding, it will help”
- “don’t wear undies under the bike pants, the less things rubbing the better”
- “there are creams for that, you rub those on your bits”… “there’s a girls group, talk to them about it”
- “oh yes, when I first joined I didn’t know which creases to rub it on… you put it…. “ (thanks Christie).
“there are different types of seats, if that one isn’t working for you, yeah put on the gel seat .
By the way, if you’re a midget like me and your bike doesn’t fit on the bike rack due to a shorter than normal bar… you may be required to take a wheel off your tri-bike in order to fit it in the boot (as you’re not riding to the bike path just yet – the world is not quite ready for you to be intermingling with cars and other modes of transport).
If you think you’ll look like a dick riding your bike, don’t stress. You’ll look like more of a dick trying to get the wheel back on in front of all of the bike people prior to riding it.
3. Will my Butt / Bits survive
The CF team says yes.
I say no.
I suspect my sex life is well and truly dead, there’s no feeling left down there, but I wouldn’t know. The coach has me so damn busy and tired I have no time to think about such things.
By the way, I forgot to ditch the underwear on one ride & ended up with nappy rash. If you’re a parent of young children, take nappy rash seriously. It’s not pleasant.
4. Learning to Clip In / Out
I only learnt about this clipping thing around 9 days ago, at which point I was ready to pull the pin.
So…. I got my new awesome Kona bike and my boss told me he’d teach me how to clip in and out in the quiet industrial estate street that we work in.
First thing you need to know is you need special tri-shoes that clip in. Then they need the clippy things (cleats) on the bottom.
If you were ever a dancer, when you first put these on you’ll be tempted to whack out a tap dance. Then maybe google to see if bikers can tap dance. Apparently it’s not just me who has thought about this…
… I understand if you don’t keep on reading and you’re kind of distracted on YouTube right now googling “cycling and tap dancing”.
So back to learning to clip in and clip out.
A commuter bike is a skateboard as a tri-bike is to roller blades. When going down hills the former allows you to safely jump off and abandon your vehicle should an unfortunate event occur. The later … well, just accept that you’ll probably die in this sport. Clip ins, shark attack, something will kill you.
Here’s how you learn:
- Sit on your bike and have someone hold it up & tell you how to clip in and clip out.
- Beg them not to let go
- Slowly pedal (whilst they still hold you upright) and learn how to clip out and stop
- Beg them not to let go
- Repeat step 3 over and over until you feel confident.
- Scream like a girl when you stuff up and are about to fall to the ground.
- Yell abuse at the person helping you and tell them you could have died.
- Don’t laugh at their jokes about “Timmmmbbbeeeerrrr”, it is NOT amusing.
- Find a quiet street & practice stopping yourself at an exact point (e.g. pretend you’re stopping at a stop sign or traffic lights).
… just like this.
So … I learnt how to ride my bike (and had nappy rash at the time). Talk about humiliation. I feel like I’m in kindergarten.
5. Riding Indoors aka “Gaming”
There are a few things that I should point out about riding on Zwift in doors.
Firstly, it makes for a great family movie night. Whack on your favourite Jaws movie, give the children their dinner and pedal like crazy while they eat (make sure you eat AFTER your ride. Grab a pen and write that down).
The kids will be able to smell your salty sweat in the air, making then really feel like they are at the beach.
Once their meal is over and they are bored with the movie, I strongly suggest that you have a firm rule around “no Facetime calls with friends whilst Mummy is on the bike”.
Comments like “oh, your Mum looks like she’s been for a swim” are not great for your self-esteem. Judgy bike people outside and judgy kids inside. Is there no-where we can ride?
We’ve spoken about protecting your bike from the weather when it’s outside, if you have budgies at home, now is the time to decide whether the kids’ mattresses are worth more to you than your bike.
Cleaning budgie crap off your bike is not ideal.
But seriously, Zwift is the best invention ever. It gives you the freedom to practice your hills before venturing outside to do it in front of an audience. I’ve had one week of Zwifting now, I’m quietly confident that I can tackle a 5% incline at this point. Yay. Yay for me.
When your coach assigns you your first 1 hour ride, I can’t begin to explain the boredom that you will experience, but you will get over it. After a few 1.5 hour rides an hour seems like a treat (yeah, yeah experienced tri-people, I know you’re laughing at my measly 1.5 hours). I’m trying to say it gets easier and you eventually start to look forward to it.
In the beginning even my Garmin was heckling me after a 22km ride….
It’s stopped now. I’d like to think it’s recording all of my stats and now sees me as competent, but I suspect after incrementally giving me more and more days off after each swim, bike and run and being ignored… it’s given up and wants me to die.
Finally, on the off-chance that you’re a QLD supporter and your coach is a NSW supporter and you feel the need to heckle him over the patheticness of his State of Origin Team. Don’t do it.
He controls your destiny now. He is the boss of you. I’m not quite sure I’m ready for my 9 hour ride tomorrow.
NSW are awesome.
Are we all good now?
Can you please take that out of Training Peaks?
If you’re looking for a fun tri-team to join – checkout Team CF here, they’ll help you when you need it and laugh at you when you deserve it.