So You Want to Try a Tri (Part 2)
In part two of this three-part series, we go over everything you’ll need to complete the bike portion of your first triathlon
Bike with clipless pedals and bike shoes
Don’t feel like you need to shell out major cash for a speedy triathlon bike if you’re participating in your first triathlon. Although any appropriately sized sport bike will do (except for hipster fixie bikes and small BMX bikes), you’ll be much more efficient on a road bike with clipless pedals and bike shoes. Snapping into clipless pedals helps you to increase the power in your pedal stroke by allowing you to both push and pull with each stroke, making the cycling portion of your triathlon much more efficient. If you’re not quite ready to ride with clipless pedals (they can take some getting used to, so you’d need to practice clipping in and out – and potentially bailing – well ahead of your goal race), strap pedals are another great option.
A bike helmet is a no-brainer if you want to protect your brain – and also mandatory at all triathlon events. Be sure to try on a few helmets in a bike store to ensure a proper, snug fit (ask a store expert to help you out). You don’t necessarily need to go all aerodynamic if you’re a beginner, but something more sporty will fit better with another cycling must-have: sunglasses!
Sporty or cycling-specific sunglasses will not only cut down on glare so you can see better while out on the road, but also help to protect your eyes from wind, airborne debris and bugs. You’ll want to look for a pair that provides good coverage around your eyes, with grippy nose and temple pads to keep them from sliding off your face as you start to sweat. A few other things to consider are lens colour (green dims glare while brightening shadows, grey minimizes glare off wet roads and helps to reduce eye fatigue, and pink or red improves visual depth and provides good road visibility), how your sunglasses will fit with your helmet (not in a fashion sense, but in a practical sense – though both could be considered!), and if they’re comfortable enough to use for the run portion of your triathlon as well.
Bike water bottle and holder
Since you can’t hydrate during the swim portion of a triathlon, having water available on your bike is a must. Pretty much any 700-plus milliliter soft-plastic water bottle with a sealable spout will do. Though most road bikes come with a water bottle holder, you might want to check first if a) you actually have one, and b) it fits the bottle you buy. If you don’t have a water bottle holder, head down to your local cycling store to have one installed on your bike.
Bike tire repair kit
Nothing can ruin a race more than having a tire blow while you’re out on the bike course, so be sure to carry a bike tire repair kit with you on the bike just in case. Your repair kit—which you can find at most bicycle shops—should include a screwdriver, tire levers, rubber patches, a small pump or air cartridge, and carrying case that can attach behind your seat or on your bike’s crossbar so it’s out of the way. And of course, take the time to learn how to repair a bike tire before race day so you’re fully prepared.
To continue reading part three, click here.