Sigh, what a beauty.
Basically since the start of the season, my coaches have been on me to get a time trial/triathlon bike (TT). Even though I knew this purchase would be necessary, I waited. The last thing I wanted to do was learn how to ride a new-to-me bike during the season, and plus, in terms of finances, it was advantageous to hold off until after Kona; that’s when older (2013 and 2014) models go on sale.
Anyway, I didn’t blog about what happened behind the scenes of my bike selection process, so here’s a summary.
Researching, aka envying others’ bikes
Yes, I love my road bike. Yes, I know it’s about the engine and not the car. But I experienced some serious bike envy this year—especially at Age Group Nationals.
Lots of staring occurred, but I didn’t truly start my research until October. At first, it was informal: simply talking to teammates and coworkers, asking which bike they ride, and figuring out why they chose it. From these conversations, I slowly developed a passing knowledge for components and started to read up on a few brands. By the time I went home for Thanksgiving, I had narrowed down my selection: I wanted an entry-level ride, preferably a 2013 Trek or Cannondale (but I wouldn’t say no to Felt or Cervelo).
So why entry level? At this point in my triathlon career, I don’t need the latest and greatest in terms of bike technology; and because I’m relatively inexperienced, the difference between entry-level components (like Shimano 105s, which are perfectly fine) and those that cost more (like Dura-Ace) probably wouldn’t be incredibly noticeable. Not to mention I have an unexplainable fear of riding a bike that’s too good for me.
With this in mind, I wanted a bike with a baller frame; down the road, I reasoned, upgrades to components could be made.
And why Trek or Cannondale? I ride a Trek roadie, so trying the brand’s Speed Concept TT made sense. And my coworkers talked up Cannondale’s Slice big time. Not that it matters, but four-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington rode a Slice.
More researching, aka taking what the defense gave me
With my TT options narrowed down, the next step included calling Syracuse Bicycle, explaining my situation, and seeing which models would be available. Over the phone, we determined a 54 cm TT frame would most likely fit. (I’m 5’10” and ride a 56 cm road bike.) It’s an odd size to begin with, and since the shop held its annual winter clearance sale, a lot of inventory had been cleared out to make room for 2015 models. There was one option: the 2013 women’s Slice 5 105. Bingo! I read up more on this bike specifically and knew that barring some sort of catastrophe, this would be my new ride.
Seeing the Slice
On Friday morning, I brought my cycling shoes and shorts to Syracuse Bicycle and hoped to test ride the Slice. In typical Central New York fashion, we got a ton of snow, so riding around the parking lot wouldn’t work. Another factor I failed to consider included the seat post; unlike road bikes where you can adjust its height, seat posts need to be cut on TT bikes. This combination meant it wouldn’t be possible to get a good feel for the bike before buying it.
This made me uneasy at first, but I remembered a handful of my teammates and coworkers bought their bikes without riding them. (Maybe this is normal?) And this would’ve been my first time on a tri bike, so it would’ve felt awkward anyway.
At this point, I relied on my research: Cannondale makes one of the most versatile, high-quality frames on the market, so getting fitted and dialed in wouldn’t be a problem. I also heard Cannondale bikes work really well for riders with long legs. And on a vain note, the red matches my team race kit—and we know it’s all about looking good in race photos.
With the bike purchased (a big thank you goes out to Santa for my Christmas present for the next five years!), the next step included getting a general fit. As cyclists and triathletes know, there are several in-depth fitting processes options (which I eventually plan to do), but a general fit offers a good starting point.
First, the seat post was cut, and then David, the fitting technician, determined how much the aerobars needed to be cut. The cockpit area—including the aerobar width—fit perfectly, which David said is very rare. During this process, I swapped the stock saddle for the Bontrager Hilo RXL, and pedals, a water bottle cage, and mount for my Garmin 310XT were also installed. (Although I’m thinking about getting a straight-up bike computer so I’m not fumbling around in T2.)
TBD—the Slice still lives in CNY, but my parents plan to bring it down to New York City in a few weeks. When it arrives, I’ll put on my trainer tire and start riding it during CompuTrainer classes. The sooner I can become comfortable in this more aggressive position, the better—because my first race of the 2014 season is only four months away!