Triathlon without a bike?

April 14, 2014

I read this article in the Chicago Tribune today, and I thought I would share it:

Divvy bikes allowed in Chicago Triathlon

Triathletes who don’t own bikes are no longer at a disadvantage in Chicago.

Organizers have announced 100 participants will be allowed to compete on Divvy bikes during the Transamerica Chicago Triathlon in August. The sky-blue-colored bikes — which are part of the city’s bike-share program — will be used along the 10k SuperSprint course.

The bikes will be available for pickup onsite in a special transition area, with Divvy staff ensuring the bikes are all race-ready.

Athletes also will swim 375 meters and run 2.5 kilometers as part of the race, which will be held Aug. 23 at Montrose Avenue Beach. Divvy riders will be timed against one another, with the fastest participants receiving trophies.

The bikes can be reserved for triathlon use on a first-come, first-serve basis Standard registration fees apply.

Nine months since Divvy’s June 28 launch, nearly 908,000 trips have been taken on the bikes, according to a city estimate. The program currently has 300 stations across the city.

Divvy brought 700 bikes out of winter storage last week, bringing the total fleet to about 2,500. In the first week of April, riders took more than 25,000 trips as temperatures rose above 40 degrees.

We all know that Triathlons, at least traditionally, are swim-bike-run. Aside from not knowing how to swim, bicycles seem like one of the most frequently cited obstacles for people trying to get into triathlon. I’m not sure I would necessarily recommend it, but given that spin bikes are so common, you may very well be able to train for shorter distance triathlons indoors on a spin bike at a gym, and need a bike only for the actual race. Not having a bike to race on tends to take two forms: not having a bike at all (or a race-worthy one), or not being able to get your bike to the specific triathlon you’d like to do.

The above article solves, potentially, either dilemma. I’ve never ridden a divvy bike, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but they don’t exactly look like speed machines. I think it’s an interesting idea though, especially because everyone is using the same bike. It also allows a potentially cheap way for someone to try out triathlons. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Let’s talk about some other solutions for the bikeless, too:

One option is, of course, to buy a bike.

Pros: You get it all the time to train, and to use after the triathlon, get it set up just right for you

Cons: The most expensive option (upfront anyway), may not want anymore if you decide triathlon isn’t for you

Another options is borrow a bike from a pal:

Pros: Can be free/cheap, convenient, GREAT way to try out triathlon at shorter distances – not for longer distances

Cons: May not have access to train on it consistently, damaging or crashing the bike may damage or crash your relationship with that person as well.

Another option is to rent a bike:

Some bike shops rent out bikes, even high end road bikes and triathlon bikes. For example, this store. I did this with a store once when I traveled to Austin, Texas, and it was a great experience. They even made sure the bike was kinda sorta fitted for me.

Pros: You can get experience riding a nice bike, don’t need to travel with your bike

Cons: Can be expensive, probably can’t get a good fit or specific items like a specific seat, probably wouldn’t work for training.

Traveling with a bike

You may have a great bike, but they don’t travel as easily as us, do they? If you are doing a destination triathlon – you need to get yourself and a bike to a another location you can’t drive to, so you can’t just put in the back or on a rack. Your options for this include renting from a shop near the location of the triathlon as mentioned above, or you can:

Take your bike on the plane with you as luggage.

Pros: You get YOUR bike, for as long as your trip lasts, goes with you to and from the airport/no additional stops.

Cons: Does anyone really trust baggage handlers? And it can get lost if you transfer a lot. It will cost you some money, since you will likely be charged oversized fees, you will need to know some disassembly and assembly basics.

Or you can ship your bike using a service like Tribike Transport

Pros: You get YOUR bike, safe way to transport bike, convenient

Cons: Not all that cheap, only for certain races, have to get your bike to and from a pick up location.

Anyone have a solution I haven’t thought of? Anyone have any experiences related to trying to do a triathlon without a bike that you’d like to share?


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