orange mécanique

Two days ago, something rather disturbing happened to me: in the span of an hour and fourteen minutes I wore Lycra, I rode a bicycle with lots of gears, a curved handlebar and a carbon fork and, to my own surprise, I liked it.

Despite the relative lack of sleep (a couple of hours) and training (none at all, remember the three week old daughter?) I met with two of my colleagues (Joel & Jukka) last Sunday morning for an Olympic relay (triathlon) here in Stockholm, Sweden. For those of you who are not too familiar with the sport (as I was until two days ago and still am), a triathlon is a multiple-stage competition with hundreds of women and men wearing spandex while they swim, cycle and run: a giant flash mob of people in tights sort of.

Anyhow, I was part of a wonderful team of amateurs on their first triathlon ever and my duty obviously was the 40 kilometres bicycle ride. I might commute by bike to work every day all year round and have some fun in the woods or in the bike park with the mountain bike I, on the other hand, don’t do road cycling and the fact is I don’t even own a road bike. But I have friends (yes I do), great friends, one of them being the owner and dictator at Fix My Bike in Hammarby Sjöstad. Yoann (that’s his name) trusts me enough to lend me a brand new Kona Jake The Snake for the race and the least I could do for him is put a link to his website (and here’s a second one – Fix My Bike – for the road).

Kona Jake The Snake, carbon fork

So I’ve been riding a Kona Jake The Snake, a cyclocross bicycle I know, on that race and, as a first road experience on a first proper sort-of-road-bike, it was a HUGE change from the Kona Coilair (really?) or the Kona Paddy Wagon (really?) I otherwise ride. Rolling at 50+ kilometres an hour with only the sounds of tires against asphalt and air in the spokes was just pure happiness.

I bought a pair of Crank Brothers Eggbeater 2 for the occasion and was very pleased with the pedals. I already have Mallet 3 on the Coilair and Candy 1 (that I’ll replace with the Eggbeater) on the Paddy Wagon so it was quite a natural addition to the bike.

Crank Brothers, Eggbeater 2 on Kona Jake The Snake

One hour and fourteen minutes then. That’s my modest performance on the 40 kilometres ride but I’m still quite satisfied considering the preparation with an average speed of just over 32 kilometres an hour. The team completed the race in 2 hours and 47 minutes and I guess we’ll just have to try and do better next year. Well done boys.

Note. The Snake, Jake (56 centimetres frame) is now for sale at 12,000 SEK (instead of 16,000) and has only been used for the triathlon. Hurry up cause there’s only one left.

ITU World Triathlon Stockholm 2013

In exactly 100 days I will participate in the ITU World Triathlon Stockholm but unfortunately I enjoy neither swimming nor running. I don’t enjoy swimming and running as regular sport activities I should say since I’m perfectly fine with a refreshing swim during summer and also fine with a quick run to the bus stop when I’m late in the morning (or a 10 kilometer race once in a while with the wife if she insists but that’s if she really insists).

Swimming in freezing water
Stockholm triathlon 2012 (or 2011, I can’t remember which summer it was so warm and we had so little ice)

Lucky for me there are such things as triathlon relays and people who actually do like swimming and running (weird but convenient)! “- Joel, wanna swim 1.5 kilometers? – Yes. – Jukka, wanna run 10 kilometers? – Yes. – Alright boys, I’ll bike, let’s go for the relay. – Sure. – Sure.” And so it is. Our it-took-less-than-one-minute-to-form team is on its way to its first triathlon.

I’m still not sure I’ll be able to get my hands on a proper racer for the day (I’m sure not going to buy one) so I just pretend I won’t and get ready for the 40 kilometer ride on my loyal single speed Kona Paddy Wagon (I’ll skip the fixed gear and go freewheel to get a chance to rest my legs if needed). The bike came with a 42T chainring and a 16T sprocket and the gear ratio – which is quite alright for relaxed commutes to work – would be way too small if I want to cover the distance in a decent time.

I now am on 46:16 and I will ride that for a month or so before I put on a smaller sprocket and so on. 46:16 is quite alright at the moment but I will need a bigger ratio to reach my objective: 1 hour 15 minutes and under (not sure I’ll manage but it’s more fun with a goal).

My main concern is the wind though: I ride the course almost weekly (at commuting speed) and it’s rather flat but it’s along the water and exposed. It’s around 6 kilometers one way and then back on the other side of the river (so the race will be 3 laps): with north to south winds it’ll be alright and means side winds the whole race but if it’s east to west winds then it’ll be harder with headwinds half the race.

As for the weather it does not really matter: it could be warm, cold, sunny, rainy or even snowy (it was 1°C for last year’s marathon in June so..) I embrace rule #9 and have a spare set of studded tires in stock. Our runner (Jukka) should be fine too but it might be a bit trickier for our swimmer (Joel) if he has to swim with an ice tool in each hand. But as long as we all have fun (Joel can always wear gloves) it does not really matter, we are the it-took-less-than-one-minute-to-form team on its way to its first triathlon and we’re going to smash our current record!

Joining the race too? Want to share your triathlon experience on one gear? Please don’t hesitate and leave a comment.