How can you complain about Triathlon?

I have an unique ability curse that allows me to complain about everything,  even the stuff I love. It does not matter how much fun I am having or how great the food is, a complaint is sure to be just around the corner. Don’t get me wrong I don’t hate life, I am very grateful that I have the health, wealth, and freedom to compete in triathlon and don’t have any “real” problems to worry about.  With that in mind my first race of the season is just a little over a week away, so please allow me to complain about the sport I love.

I have two bikes one training and one racing bike. Ready for the first complaint…Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful to be able to afford two bikes, but with two bikes storage is a major issue, then there is the headache of swapping parts, and two bikes means twice the maintenance cost…Anyway like I said, I am just about a week away from my first race so it was time to get the racing bike ready. Is it just me or is triathlon the most expensive and stressful sport on Earth? I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on this sport and yet still somehow just before every race I am scrambling from bike shop to bike shop, searching the internet for some crazy part, paying extra for second day delivery, just to be even more stressed out wondering if the new part or setup is going to work.

I have a 2008 Trek TTX 9.9ssl (pictured), it is a few years old but still top of the line and in great condition, I definitely paid a pretty penny for it but somehow it never fails that I need to spend $50 here and $200 there just before every race. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pay $6000 + on a bike and not have to worry about it for the next five years?

Sometimes I envy runners, they only need a pair of shoes (or do they?) and a good attitude and they can train and race for years with a $100 pair of shoes only needing to pay race entry fees. Of course runners are too skinny and I love tri’s to much to make that switch. So I will list a few other complaints I have about triathlon:

  • Gear decisions – Tubular vs. clinchers, full wetsuit vs. sleeveless, socks vs. no socks, hydration systems…you get the point. I know I have spent way too much time on forums trying to decide what I needed. It can become stressful!
  • Flat tires – Nothing gives me more stress than the idea of getting a flat during a race. I typically race Sprint and Olympic distances and a flat is devastating to your overall time. It’s ironic because the bike is my favorite part but during a race all I want to do is get through it without having to stop.
  • The amount of gear needed – How many times do you wonder if you packed everything? Wetsuit, bike shoes, running shoes, food, repair kit, racebelt, helmet, hat, sunglasses, and the list go on and on. It is utterly amazing how much stuff we need on raceday!
  • People – I love triathletes but on race morning they are the most annoying people I know! How about the people that show up late then try and squeeze their bike next to yours…I hate those people, you should all burn in hell. You need to show up to transition 2 to 3 hours early just to get a good spot and then you spend the rest of your time “defending” your spot from all the late comers.
  • Early mornings – It’s bad enough that races can start as early as 0600 but that does not account for the time eating, driving to the race, setting up transition and defending your spot. I have been up as early as 0400 for a race. It just crazy! It would be nice if you could stroll out of bed and show up to a race 15-min before instead of 2 to 3 hours before the race start.
  • Swimming –  My goodness with the exception of golf has there ever been a sport that relies more on technique than swimming?  If you were not on swim team as a kid or didn’t swim in high school you will never beat the people that learned the techniques as a kid no matter how much you train. If fact some of the fastest swimmers in triathlon are women because they have better technique, where as us guys think we can “power thought” the swim. Running and biking are more fair when it comes to return on investment (ROI), if you put in your time in on those disciplines you will get faster rather quickly, however the ROI on swimming is really low.

Despite all my complaining I love the sport and I can’t wait to start my 2011 season with an Olympic distance race March 19 in Lake Havasu, Arizona! Thanks for letting me rant!

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One response to “How can you complain about Triathlon?

  • Stafford

    I couldn’t agree more about the swimming. My own experience and observation has been that yes, the poeple who grew up with swimming as their sport have the uncountable hours under their belt being after more than willingly dropped off at swim practice by their parents the likes of which a working adult will never see unless you remain single and childless just to be a better triathlete. If you get into the sport as a working adult unless your willing to get coaching and dedicate hours of time just getting too and from the pool your job is second fiddle to your training your swim will always be “meh”. I confess I am a good swimmer now after 5 years but sometimes I think my gosh…. 1 hour out of my day to get in a whopping 1250 yards of swimming. If I lived further from the pool, probably 1.5 hours. Gosh in the other two sports thats miles and miles of training possibly from your front door in 1.5 hours. It’s so obvious why elite ameture triathletes hold their own against the pros on the bike and run but never the swim. In fact I bet if you caught up to a sub 20min 1500 pro in an oylmpic distance race they would probably pull away and exit the water in 17 minutes just to make you feel bad.

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