Hey, Specialized, you should give me a bike.

Yes, Specialized. I’m talking to you. A Specialized S-Works Transition bike, in QuickStep black and red coloring will do nicely. Why should you give me an $8500 triathlon bike? Let me walk you through my rationale.

I’m a nice guy. And nice guys, as we know, finish last. I’m not finishing last anymore, but I’m certainly not going to be standing on a podium any time soon. Soapboxes, yes, but not podiums. It’s for that reason that you should give me a bike. I will tell everyone about you. Sure, you’ve got world class elites photographed in magazines winning world championships on your bikes. But they’re not buying those bikes, you sponsor them. And they’d probably be on the podium anyway, regardless of which bike they ride. Give me one of those fancy pants bikes and watch me take minutes off my mediocre times. What elite can give you that kind of bang for your advertising dollar? Chris McCormack is incredibly fast and the difference between him riding your bike and a Kuota or Cervelo is probably just a few seconds. But move me from my $1300 Chinese factory-made Performance Bike house brand road bike and into one of your fancy triathlon/time trial bikes and WHOA NELLY! Watch those times change!

Specialized, wouldn’t you like to claim that you took a guy who could only average 18 mph to a guy who could average over 23? I’d give you all the credit. Really! I’d tell all my triathlon friends and readers (all 60 of them) that it wasn’t me that boosted my time, it was your super special equipment. Who’s your target audience, really? Is it pro athletes, or is it the average racer who is looking to buy some speed? Let me show you how a tri bike can change an average athlete’s life. Just give me one and I’ll show you.

I didn’t start this posting thinking I was going to beg for a free bike. Today was a spectacular training session with coach Brian and D. We did the Malibu sprint distance bike and run course together, with Brian riding his Cervelo commuter bike showing me that even on a road bike without aero bars he could keep pace with either one of us barely breaking a sweat. The dude is fast and strong, and he was out giving us pointers and calling out sprint intervals for us on the road. He also asked when I was going to replace my bike, which causes me no end of heartache.

I’ve chosen a career path that hasn’t really paid off in the ways that friends with real jobs and careers have realized. I don’t own a home, I lease my car, I work for a delayed financial payoff that one day may not materialize. The computer business pays well, but it’s limited by how many hours in a day I can book work and tolerate the repeat agony of the questions. Even this blog is a way of warming up the writing muscles, putting energy into something that doesn’t yet give financial gain. I want a new bike, yes. I bought my road bike not knowing if I was going to like triathlon or not. Clearly, I’ve become a serious junkie.

The next bike I buy is going to be expensive, something in the $4500-$6500 range. It’s got to be something that should last 3-5 years of racing, offer some immediate gains, and long term growth options. For example, just switching to a true aero position will afford me one or two miles per hour gains. With a carbon fiber frame shaving pounds of my overall weight, hill climbing gets just a little easier. Include a tri-specific cassette with compact front gearing and I start picking up serious speed and time, including harder rides and bigger gears. Eventually I can add deep rim wheels and even a carbon disk rear wheel for serious racing. Each of these things brings up the price tag, and my purchasing philosophy is not to skimp on the things that I use every day. Invest in a good mattress. Spend the extra bucks on comfortable shoes. If you wear glasses, get good ones that won’t scratch, and really nice frames that compliment your face. In my case, I’m on the bike nearing 500 miles a month now, and certainly not stopping any time soon. Therefore the next bike I get will be used a lot for a directed purpose. Eventually I’ll outgrow it and need to replace it. More likely is adding more bikes to the arsenal to compliment other kinds of riding. For example, I see how having a fixed gear bike would be great to practice cadence and spinning on asphalt. Later, replace the road bike with a carbon fiber road bike for century rides and recreational riding. The tri bike will be a race bike that helps me achieve my larger potential. This can only happen when I don’t owe the banks big chunks of my life.

Moreover, I still haven’t reached the top end of my performance range. The Triathlete’s Training Bible says there are three categories of triathlete: 1) the random workout novice. This is where I started some time ago, making up whatever workout felt right that day, doing it a couple times a week based on mood. 2) the mixed athlete. This is where I am now, which is where I plan my schedule around workouts and have directed goals for those workouts. I could be in this range for a few years and still not realize my full potential. 3) the periodized athlete who uses the proven method of a year-long schedule to move through phases achieving race-specific goals and concrete movement into the upper areas of fully realized physical potential. This includes logical build periods as well as timing performance to achieve  peak fitness at desired races. This is where I ought to be. I ran my first marathon in about five and a half hours. My second, six months later, was almost an hour faster. That’s a massive leap of fitness in a short amount of time. I’m proud of that achievement, and I think it also shows that while my training dedication increased I still have yet to reach my upper limits. Simple changes still yield big results. Moving to big ring cycling has bumped my speed up. Training with stronger people is making me faster. Doing directed sessions pay off days later. One day I will be able to afford sustained coaching, which will help me make tremendous gains. Even today’s and last Wednesday’s workouts with real coaches are moving me into new areas quickly. 

I am exceptionally grateful to both Brian and D. for today’s awesome brick. These friendships are helping me reach new areas mentally and physically (they absolutely fit my ≥ philosophy). The moment that D. put his hand on my back and pretended to push me up the hill I floored it the rest of the way and put three minutes on him over 6 miles. Of course, Brian and D. smoked me on the last 1/4 of the run (they are freakin’ fast) but only by a minute. There’s a very real possibility that D. and I could finish within minutes of each other at the Malibu sprint. (Assuming I don’t blow up from the Olympic distance the day before.) But more, and perhaps best, is the feeling that this new life keeps paying off in amazing ways that I could not have predicted. I still get out and do it for the sheer pleasure, working to get rid of the ego and the expectation, and enjoy whatever the day brings; even with directed focus and specific goals. 

A free bike would also be nice.

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