At every race I go to, I repeatedly see the same scenario. An athlete will roll up to the line with a brand new $10,000 bike equipped with all the latest wheels, groupset, pedals, helmet, etc. The gun goes off, the race starts, and they disappear off the back of the group. What in the world??? They’re supposed to be faster than everyone with their bike that trumps all other bikes on speed, aerodynamics and weight! That is 100% not true — until you train what powers that bike. Until you train your endurance, power, your will and your mental strength, that bike is no better than any other bike. At least 90% of how you perform is all dependent on you and how fit and strategic of a racer you are.
You have to dream big, but start small. Yes, start small and build yourself up. Start where you are, with what you have, because what you have is plenty.
I remember first getting into triathlons years ago. My parents were not going to buy me a bike until I actually performed well on my Dad’s cruiser bike. Therefore, I did my first couple of triathlons on my Dad’s bike that was not fit to me, had platform pedals with shoe cages, threw on some cheap aero bars, and wasn’t the slowest! After that, I got my first road bike, a cheap Trek and absolutely loved it, simply from the appreciation I had after training on a cruiser. I rode that bike for a while until I began training and racing seriously. At that point, I upgraded my road bike to a Cervelo S2 just a couple years ago (which was used, and 4 years old) and have been training on it ever since. Each year I have upgraded a piece of the bike, such as wheels and components, but carry the appreciation of starting from scratch with each upgrade.
Don’t get lost in the flashiness of brand new, super expensive bikes. Rely on yourself and the equipment you have. Keep training your motor to power you through any race, and feel how empowering it is to pass other athletes on bikes that are way nicer than yours. I will tell you, this past weekend at the Draper Duathlon, it felt awesome to have the fastest female bike time, despite riding hard the day before. And it felt even more amazing to pass men on the nicest of aerodynamic triathlon bikes with my road bike. Now get out and train!
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