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Triathletes and tri bikes/aero bars... why bother?


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So Im just pondering this question. I ride regularly on one of Sydneys most popular cycling roads for triathlon types the Kurnell loop. Lots of nice triathlon/TT bikes but the punters never ever ride on their bars, which of course is the whole point of having the things in the first place. Ill bet they have their short cranks (what a crock of shit) and little lunch boxes and all the gear but its kinda like having a 4wd to do the school drop off aint it.

Most have terrible positions, seat height wrong, reach wrong, pedal technique rubbish, but hey I guess whatever makes you happy. As I said in the other thread, for most people triathlon is a social pursuit like going to the gym or a sweatier version of bowls, they arent actually interested in getting uncomfortable or better. 

(disclaimer) I own a very nice TT bike and another one yet to be built up (oh and all the pursuit stuff for the track) but am too ridiculously fat to even consider riding one at the moment. But I do enjoy riding on the bars and having a crack when my knees dont hit my gut. I tried yesterday on the ergo and cant breathe haha. 

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... oh forgot to mention, when I do see folks on the bars they look like they are driving a bus or a bongo van with a horizontal steering wheel, they are probably producing as much (or more) drag as a fat old person on a road bike (ugh), with the added bonus of not being able to steer properly or brake...  Would be better off on a tricycle....

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56 minutes ago, Callum Dalgleish McGregor said:

So Im just pondering this question. I ride regularly on one of Sydneys most popular cycling roads for triathlon types the Kurnell loop. Lots of nice triathlon/TT bikes but the punters never ever ride on their bars, which of course is the whole point of having the things in the first place. Ill bet they have their short cranks (what a crock of shit) and little lunch boxes and all the gear but its kinda like having a 4wd to do the school drop off aint it.

Most have terrible positions, seat height wrong, reach wrong, pedal technique rubbish, but hey I guess whatever makes you happy. As I said in the other thread, for most people triathlon is a social pursuit like going to the gym or a sweatier version of bowls, they arent actually interested in getting uncomfortable or better. 

(disclaimer) I own a very nice TT bike and another one yet to be built up (oh and all the pursuit stuff for the track) but am too ridiculously fat to even consider riding one at the moment. But I do enjoy riding on the bars and having a crack when my knees dont hit my gut. I tried yesterday on the ergo and cant breathe haha. 

Most cyclists have shocking road bike positions let alone triathletes. The position for most makes it pretty hard to get value out of the TT rig, too far back, upright etc.

If I put my 130 stem on my Roubaix and get forward I'm pretty aero and that is a tall bike. On TT I've tended to ride smaller sizes and get low. The treks and canyons are tempting though and very well made
 

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I thought triathletes were the early adopters of all the wiz bang new stuff?

I will admit to having 165mm cranks on both my bike now days.  Was suggested by my bike fitter to help my stuffed knees (he didn't sell me them, just suggested).

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I think that the best money a Triathlete can spend is getting a bike fit on their TT. You will end up more aero, so faster and more comfortable for that 180km in the saddle.

You need to train your body to stay in the aero position for 180km. I see so many people after the 90km mark sitting up with their hands on the bars.

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For shits and giggles I tried the 165s out on the stages bike I have and as I suspected they make the same watts feel slightly harder and more uncomfortable. I went back to 170s for the efforts I am doing in the delusion Ill ride the track again and they are best for the higher rpm efforts, and for the 3min plus sustained stuff the 175mm cranks are best. Ultimate proof of the pudding I can go for about a minute longer on a ramp test with the 175mm cranks. Which is what its really all about. My day to day roadies all have 172.5, my enduro MTB has 170s and my XC 175s. Interestingly my TT cadence is/was around 92-97 rpm and my pursuit cadence was 107 to 109 which is low but I was never a pedaler. Although I dont run anymore I always rode 175mm cranks when I could. And for a lumpy person with no ability I could run reasonably well. (for those that dont know me picture Paul Gallen as a triathlete ..... haha). 

The myth about opening up hip angles and aero positions is a crock of shit. I think the 'new' high hands position that we used when the scott bars first came out in 1987 allows you to sit further back, generate power from your arse, is easier on your back and is a lot more aero, plus increases power. Everything old is new again. 

Id say the only area where the shorter cranks are any good is for some track riders who do really high rpms north of 140ish. 

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2 hours ago, Callum Dalgleish McGregor said:

Ill bet they have their short cranks (what a crock of shit)

Most have terrible positions, seat height wrong, reach wrong, pedal technique rubbish, but hey I guess whatever makes you happy.

(disclaimer) I own a very nice TT bike and another one yet to be built up (oh and all the pursuit stuff for the track) but am too ridiculously fat to even consider riding one at the moment. But I do enjoy riding on the bars and having a crack when my knees dont hit my gut. I tried yesterday on the ergo and cant breathe haha. 

Pot. Kettle. Black. Given your last paragraph? Each to their own. 

I ride 160mm cranks on my tri bike (2014 P3 😮 ) and 165mm on the road, MTB etc. I've been professionally fit I've ridden longer and shorter cranks but settled for those as it's my sweet spot (backed up by power data over weeks, mid foot cleats did SFA for me). For someone like me that is rarely under 95rpm it just works. I find the "harder" I'm going the higher my cadence too. A recent 20km TT was 98ave cadence.

I also ride a disc rear and dont buy into this fatter tyres are faster bullshit. I still ride a 22mm front tyre on a HED 3 (tests faster than new fat wheels)... But each to their own. If you're confident in your gear it'll all come together.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Professional bike fitters impose their own personal philosophies upon you. Just sayin. Formulas are pretty simple. And your position and fit will change over time. Quite frequently. But hey if you makes you happy mate all good. Ive never had the capacity without a lot of stuffing around to change around crank lengths before I had the new indoor bike, and its confirmed a lot of what I have practically experienced in nearly 40 (omg) years of riding all types of bikes in competitive environments in multiple disciplines.

I have been through all (and I mean all) the modern evolutions in bike history to present day though. My first proper road bike (1983 as a 20yo wanting to do a triathlon) was a Centurion with ten speeds (i.e. five speed block 13-21 I think), toe clips and straps and 53-42 chainrings. 170mm cranks have evolved as the standard for road bikes for no particular reason I know of just someone I guess thought it was a good idea at the time. Now we know how our bodies work and the gearing ratios have adapted enormously as has cadences but curiously crank lengths at the high end of cycling (and triathlon) performance hasnt really changed. 

As a bit of history the modern bike revolution really began in 1984, triathlon was emerging but at the forefront of it was Francesco Moser breaking the hour record that year with double discs, the US Olympic team discovering the amazing benefits of blood transfusions (which are still being extensively used to this day as sometimes the old ways are the best haha) along with their technical advances including helium in their tyres and Cyrille Guimard with Renault and Bernard Tapie with his La Vie Claire team embracing aero innovation. 

I got one of the first pairs of look pedals in Australia in 1986 after watching Lemond and Hinault ride them to win the tour in 85/86. So been through all the fads, embraced many seen others for the bullshit they were, copped the abuse as a tri geek from many old school bike riders many of whom are now my closest mates. 

Edited by Callum Dalgleish McGregor
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I have been doing Tri’s since 1989 and have never owned a road bike.

12 months ago I bought a Cervelo P5 Six. My mate bought me a Bike fit for Xmas last year which I did... never had one before. I always saw others doing them and they had all sorts of new stuff added etc for adjustment.

Anyway.... prior to bike fit I bought some s-bend aero bars to replace the ski ramp bars. My other bike also had s-bend bars which I love because I can just get so much drive out of the bike in the aero position.

Walked in to the bike fit..... straight away they said - we need to get rid of the s-bends and put on some ski ramp bars...... which is the opposite of what I’d just done.

I said nope and that non-negotiable. Just my personal preference. 

In the end all they did was move arm pads back about .5 of centimetre and raised my seat by 1-2 cm.

Also.......a comment I wasn’t aware of was - way too skinny. 

Next race a week later - won age group at Husky Ultimate. :)

Need to pull my finger out over the next few weeks. Am nowhere near the same sort of shape as I was last year.

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18 hours ago, Ironnerd said:

I think that the best money a Triathlete can spend is getting a bike fit on their TT. You will end up more aero, so faster and more comfortable for that 180km in the saddle.

You need to train your body to stay in the aero position for 180km. I see so many people after the 90km mark sitting up with their hands on the bars.

Absolutely.  Comfort with a bit of aero, if you lack flexibility, should be the goal for an Ironman 

I recommend always getting a bike fit from a physio who is a cyclist which I am doing at the moment.  
I had previously went to another chap who had all the fandangled rubbish with computerised pads on my body and put my seat as high as it could go and my tri bars as low as they could go.  I felt horrible.  
 

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.... and again this morning I conducted a bit of rolling (literally ha) research to underscore my point. Nice social ride and a bit of a chat on a nice bike not intended for that purpose. Hey as long as you are happy. I have a massive wanker 4wd truck but at least it does get used for its intended purpose occasionally, the 4wd army was on the move to Boat Harbour this morning with all the gear as well. And Foz, mate get a road bike. Or an MTB. Or both. 

Cant help seeing what Im seeing but good to see Im facilitating discussion. I think the other thing is that with the explosion of indoor training that doesnt actually require any bike skills a lot of people are going to improve their motor but their capacity to balance steer and brake is going to be.... worse. No cars to hit you on zwift. 

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Ok, so what's the solution. You say triathletes have terrible positions, or don't ride on the bars at all, but the next comment is bike fitters push their own agendas or formulas.

What's the solution then. Just keyboard bash people having a crack, riding bikes they love? 

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1 hour ago, Prince said:


I had previously went to another chap who had all the fandangled rubbish with computerised pads on my body and put my seat as high as it could go and my tri bars as low as they could go.  I felt horrible.  
 

When I had mine done, he went in completely a different direction than I expected, getting me much lower than I had ever been, and told me in a little time I could drop it even lower.  I did not expect that at all, and have been so much more comfortable on my tt than ever.  I just trusted he was right.   He had prior done the fits for my mate (who my tt bike came from) and the direction he went with him was where I expected he'd go with me.  The only issue I have is with a twinge in my left arm, which I had on my previous bike setup anyway, and all it means is my left hand sits on top of my right hand on the right aerobar.  Never bother going to a physio to sort it out, but it's not a problem caused by the bike; it bothers me in other things too.  My guy is also a track and road cycling coach, qas coach, and I just have to assume he knows a lot more than me!   

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1 hour ago, Lost in transition said:

Ok, so what's the solution. You say triathletes have terrible positions, or don't ride on the bars at all, but the next comment is bike fitters push their own agendas or formulas.

What's the solution then. Just keyboard bash people having a crack, riding bikes they love? 

Learn how to ride on your bars, or dont. Get a participation medal if you want. I personally dont give a rats. Learn how to get better or dont, champ I dont care. There is more than enough info above if you want to do it, but it seems selective comprehension is also one of your attributes. Ask yourself how you can get better. Most never ever do. Challenge yourself to be the best you can be, most people are happy to fit in with the flock and be a part of the social scene. Want some inspiration? Get a watch out and have a crack. Watch good people and how they do it. Watch Cameron Brown on Insta yesterday going on 50 making most of you look stupid. Get in a pool and do 800m time trials. With no one else in the lane. Find a flat ten mile (16k) tt course and press start on your watch. Go to a running track and run 3k time trials once a week. Ask yourself if you are exercising or actually training. Ask yourself if you are too fat, too skinny, too weak (mentally and physically) or if you have ever even remotely approached or tried to approach what you are physically capable of. 

Hope thats not too much reading for you. 

Even though I am now old, fat and a complete has been, those last two words probably sum it up. At least Im not a never was and with the benefit of hindsight I managed to squeeze every last drop mentally and physically out of my piss poor physical attributes for my chosen sport (to which I was very poorly suited). At least I can look back and now say I know what my absolute limits were as piss poor average as they were. 

I didnt and wont die wondering. How about you. Most people wont pay a coach to give them the bad news that they suck. They would like a nice gold star on their forehead and a nice chat after swim squad. 

*** edited to say this: My advice would be to be true to yourself. Do the best you can. Most people are looking for excuses and to blame others or to argue with strangers on social media (oh the irony huh). I miss running a lot. I miss a lot of things as I cant do them anymore. I have a favourite T shirt that says "work harder, no one cares". And ultimately no one does especially in the narcisstic insta/FB age in which we live. Triathlon is a participation sport where everyone gets a prize, its a great sport to be mediocre in, bike racing isnt like that as once you get dropped its day over. Thats why gran fondos are now more popular. People can brag about their achievements.... anyway do it while you can, or dont. No one cares. If I was a comedian Id be Ricky Gervais :)

 

 

Edited by Callum Dalgleish McGregor
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32 minutes ago, Lost in transition said:

Ok, so what's the solution. You say triathletes have terrible positions, or don't ride on the bars at all, but the next comment is bike fitters push their own agendas or formulas.

What's the solution then. Just keyboard bash people having a crack, riding bikes they love? 

Oh and have a look over on the 'weights' thread. Have a look at Lindsey Vonn on insta. She is a tough chick. Functional movement. 

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1 hour ago, Callum Dalgleish McGregor said:

Learn how to ride on your bars, or dont. Get a participation medal if you want. I personally dont give a rats. Learn how to get better or dont, champ I dont care. There is more than enough info above if you want to do it, but it seems selective comprehension is also one of your attributes. Ask yourself how you can get better. Most never ever do. Challenge yourself to be the best you can be, most people are happy to fit in with the flock and be a part of the social scene. Want some inspiration? Get a watch out and have a crack. Watch good people and how they do it. Watch Cameron Brown on Insta yesterday going on 50 making most of you look stupid. Get in a pool and do 800m time trials. With no one else in the lane. Find a flat ten mile (16k) tt course and press start on your watch. Go to a running track and run 3k time trials once a week. Ask yourself if you are exercising or actually training. Ask yourself if you are too fat, too skinny, too weak (mentally and physically) or if you have ever even remotely approached or tried to approach what you are physically capable of. 

Hope thats not too much reading for you. 

Even though I am now old, fat and a complete has been, those last two words probably sum it up. At least Im not a never was and with the benefit of hindsight I managed to squeeze every last drop mentally and physically out of my piss poor physical attributes for my chosen sport (to which I was very poorly suited). At least I can look back and now say I know what my absolute limits were as piss poor average as they were. 

I didnt and wont die wondering. How about you. Most people wont pay a coach to give them the bad news that they suck. They would like a nice gold star on their forehead and a nice chat after swim squad. 

*** edited to say this: My advice would be to be true to yourself. Do the best you can. Most people are looking for excuses and to blame others or to argue with strangers on social media (oh the irony huh). I miss running a lot. I miss a lot of things as I cant do them anymore. I have a favourite T shirt that says "work harder, no one cares". And ultimately no one does especially in the narcisstic insta/FB age in which we live. Triathlon is a participation sport where everyone gets a prize, its a great sport to be mediocre in, bike racing isnt like that as once you get dropped its day over. Thats why gran fondos are now more popular. People can brag about their achievements.... anyway do it while you can, or dont. No one cares. If I was a comedian Id be Ricky Gervais :)

 

 

Come on now place nicely, lots of value and gold in what you have been posting, but most people need surprisingly little amounts of intensity but they do need it.

Do you think that the mongrel bit of you and desire to work hard could have in some way contributed to some of the injuries you have had? 

Agree if you have bars and an aero bike you need to learn how to ride it otherwise ride a roady. You are correct about learn how to ride it, its not an armchair sport, riding in the TT position for 5 to 6 or more hours is going to recruit muscles you don't use in the roady group ride use case. It does have to be worked at.

Pro triathletes started riding in positions exhibiting bike fit characteristics common one to another, and did so within two years of the introduction of aero bars (in 1987).

most good pros ride the same way today as the best pros did in 1990. What do Mark Allen, Paula Newby-Fraser, Scott Tinley, Jürgen Zäck, Wolfgang Dittrich, and Pauli Kiuru all have in common? They were all stars 12 and 15 years ago, and they shared very similar tri bike fit characteristics

What do Normann Stadler, Torbjorn Sindballe, Faris Al Sultan, Peter Reid, Tim DeBoom, Heather Fuhr, Lori Bowden and Natascha Badmann all have in common? They are today's stars, and they not only share bike fit characteristics one to another, they are positioned in ways quite similar to those pros of an earlier generation. (ST 2007)

Pros recognize what works and all ride to what works.

Fit & trim AG can ride similar position to the pros

 an optimized aero position is not difficult to achieve, it requires elements of athleticism in excess of that required for a road race position. While nearly everyone can ride a road race bike in a position not so different from those ridden by professional road racers a smaller percentage, perhaps half to two-thirds of those of those competing in triathlons, can adopt an optimized tri position. 

 

 

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CDM, reading your posts in this thread, and what I remember of you from the past, I can see exactly why you excelled/excel!  And I can see exactly why I never achieved anything other than mediocrity at best, and why even in the sports I was actually good at growing up and into young adulthood I never came close reaching a level I could have!  I may have a never give up attitude, but I absolutely don't have what it is that I see in your posts, and the way you post.  And I'm ok with that.  It's more of an issue in my working life; as good as I am I will never reach the point I could.  I make up for it in other ways.  Some people can learn it, I won't (notice I said "won't", not "can't" - speaks volumes).

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The 'new' (haha) high hands position will open up your hip angle enormously, with the added bonus of better aerodynamics, better use of your fat/skinny/flabby/non existent hip flexors and arse and the additional added bonus of getting your weight back so your bike will actually handle a bit better. 

Double extra added bonus. All the good triathletes I know ride road bikes most or at least a very high degree of the time. It helps them use their arse muscles. 

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58 minutes ago, goughy said:

CDM, reading your posts in this thread, and what I remember of you from the past, I can see exactly why you excelled/excel!  And I can see exactly why I never achieved anything other than mediocrity at best, and why even in the sports I was actually good at growing up and into young adulthood I never came close reaching a level I could have!  I may have a never give up attitude, but I absolutely don't have what it is that I see in your posts, and the way you post.  And I'm ok with that.  It's more of an issue in my working life; as good as I am I will never reach the point I could.  I make up for it in other ways.  Some people can learn it, I won't (notice I said "won't", not "can't" - speaks volumes).

Mate I certainly dont mean to disrespect or insult anybody even if it comes across that way (which I guess it does but its just my view and zero tolerance of those unable to sit in the room of mirrors). We all do what we do and live with our choices. Im just calling it as I see it and may disappear back into the ether at some stage sooner or later. So please accept that as a mea culpa, my personality, life choices and attitude have come with many many pitfalls and permanent health damage. The last 12 months of essentially not being able to get off the couch have given me long pause for thought. Its been an interesting period. 

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5 hours ago, Callum Dalgleish McGregor said:

Most people wont pay a coach to give them the bad news that they suck.

Pffft, Ive got a power meter that tells me how much I suck EVERY day!

Better than coach who couldnt make it so ended up coaching instead!! 😂

And before any coaches start crying, Im joking....

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Just to clarify, CDM, I in no way took anything you posted as disrespectful!  Just a point of view.

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On 09/01/2021 at 11:42 AM, Callum Dalgleish McGregor said:

So Im just pondering this question. I ride regularly on one of Sydneys most popular cycling roads for triathlon types the Kurnell loop. Lots of nice triathlon/TT bikes but the punters never ever ride on their bars, which of course is the whole point of having the things in the first place. 

Thought of you this morning (see last paragraph). Rode from North Turramurra to Kurnell today - Pretty much Tt’d To North Sydney. Then Tt’d from super centre to Airport tunnel and then again downs the grand parade. Another TT session from the big round about on Capt Cook drive to Kurnell.

As we were about to leave Kurnell this girl passed us with all the gear. I said to a mate let’s catch her and cruise for a bit in TT mode. As soon as we caught her I could see the shake of the bed - she didn’t like that we were on here wheel. After about 300 more metres she pulls over and let’s (tells us) to go so we did another hit out. She was  about  3 mins back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

a) why don’t people like being followed

b) if people sit on my wheel and I don’t know them I don’t care. It actually makes me ride harder. 

Ps: And now the penny has dropped. How I wish we could ride like you did back in the day. 

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On 09/01/2021 at 10:42 AM, Callum Dalgleish McGregor said:

Ill bet they have their short cranks (what a crock of shit)

 Talk about a massive generalisation.

I run 170mm. I like em. Part of the reason I do is due to one leg being shorter than the other. 

Could easily say "long cranks is a crock of shit"

On 09/01/2021 at 1:34 PM, Callum Dalgleish McGregor said:

Professional bike fitters impose their own personal philosophies upon you. Just sayin.

...which is exactly what you're doing in this thread. Don't know why you've been triggered. 

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13 hours ago, IronmanFoz said:

Thought of you this morning (see last paragraph). Rode from North Turramurra to Kurnell today - Pretty much Tt’d To North Sydney. Then Tt’d from super centre to Airport tunnel and then again downs the grand parade. Another TT session from the big round about on Capt Cook drive to Kurnell.

As we were about to leave Kurnell this girl passed us with all the gear. I said to a mate let’s catch her and cruise for a bit in TT mode. As soon as we caught her I could see the shake of the bed - she didn’t like that we were on here wheel. After about 300 more metres she pulls over and let’s (tells us) to go so we did another hit out. She was  about  3 mins back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

a) why don’t people like being followed

b) if people sit on my wheel and I don’t know them I don’t care. It actually makes me ride harder. 

Ps: And now the penny has dropped. How I wish we could ride like you did back in the day. 

Were you riding your TT rig?

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23 hours ago, IronmanFoz said:

a) why don’t people like being followed

b) if people sit on my wheel and I don’t know them I don’t care. It actually makes me ride harder. 

Ps: And now the penny has dropped. How I wish we could ride like you did back in the day. 

Riding closely to someone requires a level of trust that they are not going to do something stupid and knock you off your bike. I do not like it when some one I do not know grabs my wheel.

As a female she may have felt unsafe having two random guys so close.

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11 hours ago, Ironnerd said:

As a female she may have felt unsafe having two random guys so close.

This was my first thought, especially as they rode up onto her wheel rather than hanging on after being passed. Her actions seem completely reasonable to me, based on discussions I have had with other female cyclists.

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On 11/01/2021 at 12:35 PM, BarryBevan said:

Were you riding your TT rig?

I was. My training bike. Sorry - late reply as I am away down the south coast.

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On 11/01/2021 at 9:58 PM, Ironnerd said:

Riding closely to someone requires a level of trust that they are not going to do something stupid and knock you off your bike. I do not like it when some one I do not know grabs my wheel.

As a female she may have felt unsafe having two random guys so close.

Not riding close enough to be in the creep zone but definitely in the draft zone.

perhaps she should have tried to drop us. I know I would have.

Edited by IronmanFoz
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17 minutes ago, IronmanFoz said:

Not riding close enough to be in the creep zone but definitely in the draft zone.

perhaps she should have tried to drop us. I know I would have.

Once you are over 50 we are all in the creep zone 😃

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Fascinating stuff. Personally I’ve been all about ‘the participation medals’ since way before 2009, even though I’ve done triathlons - off and on - since 1987. Happy with my status as a has been who never was.  

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14 minutes ago, Andrew #1 said:

Fascinating stuff. Personally I’ve been all about ‘the participation medals’ since way before 2009, even though I’ve done triathlons - off and on - since 1987. Happy with my status as a has been who never was.  

Same. Zero fks given. I think it’s awesome at 40+ I can still be out doing something. For my part time job I often have to run a 2.4km time trial against a bunch of 20 year olds. I still manage to finish in the top few. 

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25 minutes ago, Bored@work said:

For my part time job I often have to run a 2.4km time trial against a bunch of 20 year olds. I still manage to finish in the top few. 

And you are probably breathing more freely and evenly than the kids that came in ahead of you.

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For anyone outside of the very top of the pro field, its all about:

Participaton

Enjoyment

Health

Quality of life

Positive message and role model for kids

Bike position and use of TT bars does not preclude any of that.

Still not too hard to have a hip angle 95 to 105 degrees and if you don't you are a terrible person 🤣

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7 hours ago, Bored@work said:

I often have to run a 2.4km time trial against a bunch of 20 year olds. I still manage to finish in the top few. 

that TT is almost a waste of time, run the first half and walk the rest and you'd probably still make the time cutoff (in saying that, says more about the lazy AF 20yr olds). Don't even mention those that do the walk.... I broke 7mins a few times, the first time I got accused of cheating as had to do it again with some muppet in short red shorts. 

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4 hours ago, Crappy said:

that TT is almost a waste of time, run the first half and walk the rest and you'd probably still make the time cutoff (in saying that, says more about the lazy AF 20yr olds). Don't even mention those that do the walk.... I broke 7mins a few times, the first time I got accused of cheating as had to do it again with some muppet in short red shorts. 

The muppets who yell at me wear blue shorts. 

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