Spare tire?

For me the ultimate triathlon question is: For shorter races (Sprint and Olympic) do I take a spare tubular? Nothing stresses me out more than this issue! Of course this also sparks the popular debate of tubular versus clincher?  I have a Zipp 404 front and a 808 rear, both are tubulars. Taking a spare tubular is definitely a pain in the ass as it is much bigger  and much harder to “hide” than a spare tube (clincher) which could be folded up and place just about anywhere. I believe that tubulars are a higher quality and faster tire when compared to clinchers but carrying a spare tubular tire during a race sucks!

For a longer race such a 70.3 or 140.6 there is no question, you take that extra tire but with a shorter race is the extra tire really worth the effort? In my opinion when I compete in a Sprint or Olympic distance race “just finishing” the race is not good enough. I know I can finish, but I want to finish as quickly as possible. Taking the 5-min (probably more like 10-min) to fix a flat is devastating to my overall time, that could be the difference of 10 – 20 finishing places.

I have experienced both situations:

  • Not finishing because of a flat – I have completed nearly 30 races and fortunately I have only had one flat. The flat happen during a sprint race and I did not have a spare tire so I had to “hitch hike” back to transition. Let me tell you not finishing a race is not a great feeling.
  • Having a bad race due to a mechanical failure – This is equivalent to taking 5 – 10 minutes to fix a flat. Let me tell not finishing sucks but finishing with a horrible time just might be worse. You start playing the “what if” game and then you have to tell everyone that you had a problem to “justify” your horrible race time.

As of now, I have come to the conclusion that I am not going to take a spare tire for the shorter races. Let me hear your opinions.


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