When I first started in Triathlon I had a pretty standard road bike, it was heavy, it was cheap, but it did the job. My old coach Brett Sutton use to call it the tractor! When you start off with such simple equipment anything that you receive from that point onwards is a rocket ship and a prized possession. I have always managed to perform on whatever equipment I have. I was always a strong swimmer and runner, the bike for has always been a work in progress. But it’s true what they say; time on the bike is all you need. I think it took a good 13 years before I considered myself a stronger cyclist! But it did happen. When I started performing on the bike it was more about belief and attitude, rather than the type of steed I chose to ride.
When I decided I would come back and give it good crack I had one of my favourite bike brands a Cannondale, but I was tad too big and with my short torso I ended up having to use a short stem to make it fit.. This seems to be a theme with me! I finally got my first Carbon TT bike approximately 5 years ago, it was an Orbea Ora. I loved it! Yes, pretty basic by most peoples standards, but for me it was the perfect bike. It fit me well (still a short stem), the geometry wasn’t too steep and I could use it on every race course out there. I remember purchasing my first set of Carbon Vision bars and was giddy with excitement. And yes, I still get excited about bike parts. I don’t care for shoes.
My Orbea and I bonded, and we produced fantastic times and results. Enough results for me to combine with my past results and once again secure my pro licence. The thing about ‘Orby’ (my name for my little rocket ship), was that the bike frame really suited me and my style of riding. It so important to get this right and I believe even more so when you are a small female rider. After Orby came a string of bike affairs, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ride a number bike brands some that were better than others however, the past 18 months I received the mother of all rocket ships, or so it is so heavily touted. The Specialized S-Works Shiv. Now this is a beautiful bike, it’s a fast TT bike that loves to in a straight direction fast, but it’s a tricky one to fit if you are accustomed to riding with an aggressive aero bar drop. I was set up on the small, which we now know was most definitely the wrong size for me. Maybe my love affair would still be going had I been fitted to the correct size, the extra small. A lot of people have gone down a size to make the bike fit, also have fitted with their own aerobars which I did too.. However, it is also a lot of bike!! Personally for me, I love a bike I can use on every course, all sorts of conditions and also I like to feel part of the bike and be able to manoeuvre the bike like it’s an extension of me. Unfortunately my experience wasn’t a good one, probably due to a bad bike fit and I battled the beast for 18 months! I did produce a fast time at Melbourne in windy conditions (solo I might add) with a 5.07 however, that is a pretty flat fast course.
So after 18 months of up and down performances both in training and racing I have decided to do research on bikes. My goal is to find a bike that fits me and offers the attributes I’m after in a bike. Choosing an ill-fitting frame can hamper your performance not only during the bike portion of the triathlon, but it destroys you for the run. Trust me, coming exhausted into transition after battling a bike for 5ish hours is not fun! I have come across some excellent options for women, small frames with great geometry and light frames, and now it will be just a case of deciding which one to pursue.
In the meantime my training has been on my roadie. It always takes a few weeks to adapt back to the seated position after being propelled forward on a TT bike. But you forget how much fun these bike are! Super light, fly’s up hills, zips around corners and are much easier to ride when cycling in a group. I’ve spent the last 8 weeks on my roadie, I wouldn’t say I’m any faster on my little machine but I’m enjoying the ease that it climbs up the hills! So much easier! For those heading into winter like we are here in Australia, getting out the road bike into the hills is a great way to gain strength and work on some otherwise neglected skills. You can locate some long climbs and spend some solid time building strength, something that’s not so easy when you are on your TT bike.
Given the circumstances with my bike, I am now sans TT bike. I want to keep on racing, but until I find a bike that suits me I will need to keep it short. So I had this crazy idea that I would go back to my roots and race an Olympic distance race! I also believe that after my last race in Taiwan my body was little tired with all the long training and racing, so it was probably a good idea to inject some speed. I am actually excited about my upcoming race, so excited that I did short running race on the weekend to ensure that my legs still go fast! My time wasn’t quite near my 36min 10km off the bike, but it was low 40’s and hopefully I can improve it with a swim/bike warm up before it!
Looking forward to my next hit out at Philippines 5150! It’s going to be hot, fast and hurt like hell... Can’t wait!