The last few tweaks
Aside from the notion that I haven’t had time to sit down and plan out my race-day strategy for the FullRev at Rev3 Cedar Point, I’d say things are going well. I’ve been all over the midwest, and August flew by faster than me on my Plasma. Interviewing, racing, writing, dissertation-ing, powerpoint-ing, yearning-to-throw-computer-down-the-stairs-ing, and all sorts of other ing-ing going on in the Land O’ Endurance Meg. Luckily, I have kept my sanity. And I am not convinced that distractions from races like a FullRev are a bad thing when the taper lurks.
One quite glorious distraction is that my Plasma got a few upgrades. One of these included a new wheelset that I ordered individually from The Bike Shop in Houghton. I saved up, bought the front Sram S60, saved up for another month or two and then bought the rear S60. Luckily I know the owners so they didn’t think I was some neurotic, crazy, insane-o triathlete that was indecisive about what wheels to get (in reality, I could only afford one at a time).
Psychologically, the new wheelset has been a huge boost. The hubs are smooth as butter, and they wheels aren’t heavy or cumbersome. I am pretty sure that my new tires help, too. A friend, follower, and former Tech alum – who tests bike tire rolling resistance – pulled a few strings out of the kindness of his heart and a set of Bontrager Race X Lite Pro clincher tires wound up on my doorstep. These are awesome handmade (290 threads per inch) tires with a treadless, supple rubber. Since there was a dramatic change from my Shimano R500s to the SramS60s wheels, it might have been hard to notice, but the smooth, freeing, and speedy feel of the tires could hardly be ignored. I never had to look down to see if I had a flat, like I did constantly when I was riding Gatorskins. And the Race X Lite Pro tires connect to the road in a way I’ve never experienced before with any other tire. They feel responsive, but also a little like ice-on-ice.
So the Bonty RaceXLite clinchers are the third fastest clinchers out there, which makes me feel a little gear-whorish, only because “it’s not about the bike.” But, when the difference between RaceXLite Pros (MSRP $64.99) and the Bontrager Sports (basic tire, $12.99) are the price and nearly 10 watts per wheel, well… I’ll take it.
Go figure, with the recent rain/traffic/weather, there is an influx of gravel on the roads up here, and I’ve already successfully got a small gash on one of my brand new tires. Luckily, it doesn’t appear to be spreading… But I am keeping an eye on it. Plus, the tires at least appear to be non-directional, and since my front wheel was on backwards (my roommate is a roadie/bike mechanic), I just flipped the wheel and now the gash will likely stay put for sure.
Tweaking is pretty much done, and I only have two more key workouts before the big dance. I am excited to race the FullRev at Rev3, and the more I think about it, the more excited I am. There’s less pressure, since I’ve already experienced the distance a year ago. But then again, there’s more expectation, because since I now know what to expect, I can at least ponder ways of how to improve. I’ve worked on my swimming more. I have focused more on intensity on the bike. My run is stronger than last year. I am excited to see what will happen, how the day will unfold.
And I am risking things more this year than last (eg. by running faster but less puncture-resistance tires, by having a more aggressive position on the bike, and by not racing with an aero drink bottle- I’ll be using regular caged bottles instead). I’ve raced more this season, I’ve traveled more to both race and spectate, I’ve been reminded of the joys of the word Team, and I’ve been more involved in the sport than I ever thought I would be. Each day, I have come to love the swim-bike-run more and more. Am I a triathlete? You betcha.