Training wise, I’ve managed to tick on okay. There are some slight niggles that always seem to work their way into your system come race week. Some are genuine and will probably pass in a few days, but often they are manifestations of nerves, stress, intimidation or just demons in your head. Sitting on the beach, or overlooking the lava fields (whatever suits) is a nice way to get you focused.
Talking expo and gear, I thought I’d include a little bit about what I’m taking into the race and why. This may be a bit boring for those wanting to hear about palm trees and turtles, but it may be of relevance for those wanting to race in or get to Kona. I’ve included this section down at the bottom.
The highlights of the expo has definitely been the high standard of kit. This is the place where fancy bikes like the Cervelo P5X, the new BMC and others are launched. If you’re not in the market for a superbike – there are loads of great options from Louis Garneau, Zoot, Roka, Rudy Project, Huub, Oakley etc. With athletes spending so much time in the town in the lead-up to the race, the exhibitors do go all out to make it an amazing spectacle.
This week we had the parade of nations where all the countries and participants walked down Ali’I Drive. It was quite a special moment to be there with all the supports and locals out on the streets. I wouldn’t say it was like the Olympics, but it was damn cool. Walking down the street waving the SA flag and crowds cheering.
One thing I can say is that there are many happy and excited people who have raced in SA, would like to travel to or have travelled to SA. It is a country that stands out by itself amongst the other nations of the world. We don’t always get the best stories out of our country, but despite that, we are very well received.
Then this morning was the underpants run. A short two-mile trot through town with nothing more than your undies. Despite being a rest day on my programme, I decided that I needed to get involved as it is an iconic event. It doesn’t last long, but the participant numbers were huge. They took over the whole town.
It really is a fun event to unwind a bit and donate something to charity. I think the pictures say it all…
I was hoping to get another edition out to you before Friday in SA – but this appears less likely. The 12 hour time difference doesn’t help a pseudo-journalist in Hawaii make his deadlines!!
Should the amazing guys at Bike Hub find some space, I would like to give a report on my race and the course itself. At the moment, I am feet up and waiting for a plane to arrive with my support crew of one. Fortunately, my wife has been able to come out for a few days and we will be able to at least enjoy some of the island after the race for a few days.
Until next week… and hope to see you on the other side!!
Now for the bike, gear and tech stuff
I was previously involved in the bike industry, but none of the products here have been given to me or sponsored. I chose all the items based on budget, fit and if it just looks cool!!
Frame: Argon 18 E-117tri from Cycletech in Kyalami. It’s no superbike, but it’s a very decent and affordable timetrial bike. The brakes and headset come in sensible configurations to allow for packing (because you fly to most races). Bottom bracket, seatposts, wheel clearance also offer no surprises. We get a free bike service here in Kona! Cervelo, BMC, Quintana Roo and Argon are the traditional SA brands that have a presence in Kona and most do a free tune up. Felt, Diamond and Ventum are the other bike brands that I have seen.
Crankset and pedals: I ride Rotor 170mm 3DF cranks, a 54-42 Rotor Q-ring and Powertap P1 pedals. I prefer the shorter than normal length crankarms as I have suffered from hip issues in the past, and likewise the reason for Q-rings. I used to ride Osymmetric rings, but without the auto-adjusting from an automatic gearing system (Di2), I have found them a little tricky. I would move back if I had Di2.
The Powertap pedals are excellent (from Cycleops in Rivonia). Two sided power, ease of setup (one Allen key), Ant+, Bluetooth and used on all training, indoor riding, and races. It really is great to have a power meter, and the P1 pedals do a superb job. I really like the ease of use to setup, sync, compatible with most head units, iPhone, iPad etc. Powertap however has a very minimal presence here in Kona this year.
My groupset is a mix of Shimano from various upgrades, spare parts, and donations from older bikes. Nothing fancy or electronic here. These are all controlled from my Zipp Vuka carbon aerobars. They’re a bit old, but have lasted very well.
Saddle: Cobb VFlow max – it's comfy, well designed for triathlon, and slightly narrower that other brands in the market. Fluidlines are the current importers in SA.
Wheels: I borrowed a set of Zipp 808 tubulars from a friend. I have normally raced a disk wheel, but they are banned at Kona. Since arriving here, I’ve changed my front wheel to my custom built 50mm’s to keep the winds of Hawi at bay. There are many excellent wheels here. Zipp, Vision, Darknight (really impressed), Enve etc…
Hydration and spares: I’ve gone for Xlab front and rear bottle mount systems. They work well on my bike, and generally function as they should. I don’t use the refillable permanent bottles up front. I’d rather shove a bottle in the cage than refill – personal preference really.
Tech: Apart from the power meter (P1) I use a Garmin 920Xt watch for all three disciplines and have a backup 910xt on the bike in case I get some spike or connectivity/GPS issues. Gamin has a small presence at Kona within one of the bike shops with a little discount on all their products.
Kit: Shorts, shirt and compression sleeves are from Compressport. Things fall apart in Ironman – and it’s probably a psychological thing, but I like decent compression gear to keep me together! I’ll be sporting a limited edition Kona racing top on Saturday… very nice indeed!
Protection: I’m running in my orca visor that I’ve had for about 10 years… this may be its last race! And then some Oakley FlakJackets that have also been with me a while. Don’t fix if it’s not broke, I guess!!
On the bike I have a Louis Garneau Superleggara TT helmet with visor. I have slightly larger than normal cranium, and I find that Louis Garneau is one of the only helmets to fit me. I race in a visor, as with your head down in the TT position, most sunglasses have the ridge which gets in the way.
Shoes: Brooks PureFlow 5 – only this year I moved onto Brooks shoes, and I find most of their shoes to suit me very well. Generally a low drop of 4-6mm, good support and comfort, and no fancy pocket systems etc.. Just damn good running shoes.
For the Bike, I use the only pair of road cycling shoes I’ve ever owned. A pair of Specialized tri bought from Tony Impey in 2009 – 6 Ironman races, 12 Half Ironman, 2 World champs and the odd double century etc.. and still going strong!!
Swimskin: This is something that is not often used in South Africa, as we have an abundance of cold sea. Here we are not allowed to use wetsuits, so I initially borrowed one, but have now bought a better fitting Xterra Swimskin. With my swimming, I hope to get every advantage I can!!
Right – so triathlon comes with a lot of kit – and mine is all ready for race day. Let’s hope the body holds out