Triathlon – an expensive past time?
We’ve all done it. We have all walked up and down the transition area before a race quite literally drooling over the TT bikes on show and thought which limb or organ you would willingly scarifice to get your hands on one. But for the average novice and age group racer, does the most expensive gear necessarily mean faster times?
Take the wetsuit for example. Anything from €150 to €1000 can be spent on a triathlon wetsuit but does the more expensive suit mean a faster swim time? I’ll give my experience here. When the time came for me to purchase a wetsuit for triathlon, I was on a limited budget. The Zoot Fusion wetsuit was recommended to me as a great value entry level suit at €170. I have worn the wetsuit in 4 different open water swims during my first triathlon season. But did the wetsuit slow me down or make me faster? Answer is simply, neither. Time spent in the pool working on stroke and breathing techniques on the other hand definitely determind how well my swim went.
When it comes down to the choice of bike, more expensive once again doesn’t mean faster bike splits. There is no substitute for hard training and getting plenty of mileage under the belt. A €5000 TT bike may only have the average age grouper slightly faster but in most cases the difference is negligible. Whats the secret to achieving good split times on the bike, training and mileage. I, for one, love 2-3 hour training spins on the bike, both on my own and with my triathlon club mates. Theres no substitute to getting in good time in the saddle, getting mileage on the clock and building up those leg muscles. I currently ride an €800 GT road bike to which I have made a few very minor changes in the form of clip on TT bars, fast forward seat post and a set of Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels. On this bike, I achieved a 34 minute 20k bike split at a duathlon 3 weeks ago. If I can do it, then anyone can!!
At the end of the day, expensive gear looks great, gets admiring stares and certainly makes you look the part. But, in my opinion, theres no substitute for quality training and work. Gear of all value is only a tool, how well the triathlete uses the gear at their disposal will determine their success.