Triathlon - Basic Equipment Required

by : onlineironman

A triathlon is one of the most demanding sports there is but the sense of accomplishment and achievement experienced once you've completed one, far outweighs the time, effort energy and dedication required for it's preparation - not to mention the long term bragging rights!

Once you've decided to compete in your first triathlon, you will need to put your money where your mouth is and commit by purchasing the gear required. Once all the equipment has been bought, there is no going back, well there is but the guilt associated with all that equipment rotting away in your garage staring you in the face every time you go to mow the lawn could be overwhelming!

So, you've committed. What do you need. Well, here is a general rundown on the equipment required.

The Swim

Typical requirements for the swim are a cap, swimming goggles, a nose clip and a swim suit or wetsuit. Generally, participants are required to wear a swimming cap provided by the event organisers, they are usually bright in colour for safety reasons and can be different colours to signify different categories.

Ordinary wetsuits designed for snorkelling etc will not provide optimum benefits in a triathlon because the sleeves restrict the arm movements to prevent a comfortable stroke during the swim. Triathlon wetsuits are customized to the needs of a triathlete and include softer, more pliable rubber around the shoulder area, or are sleeveless. they also have longer zippers and can have wrist and ankle zippers to facilitate faster removal during the transition. Triathlon wetsuit also have a smooth delicate surface to reduce water friction and allow a faster speed through the water.

The Cycle

The obvious main component for the cycle is the bike. The triathlon bike is a variant of the road bike and the most significant difference is the addition of tri-bars or aero-bars. Because triathletes cannot draft as can be done in cycling events, aerodynamics plays a large part in the cycling leg of the triathlon. Frame tubes are oval rather than round and the wheels may have fewer spokes or even be carbon fibre tri spokes or discs. Tri bikes are very similar to time trial bikes.

Tri-bars or aero-bars are handlebars designed to reduce the wind drag on a cyclist. They are attached to the handlebars and have rests for the riders forearms while the hands are stretched forward to hold the centre bars. This keeps the elbows closer to the body and lowers the torso to allow for better aerodynamics.

Triathletes tend to become obsessed with aerodynamics in their quest to improve speed and performance with the result that manufacturers are concentrating more and more on improving triathlon bikes for the disconcerting triathlete.

Of course , other equipment required include the cycle helmet, the cycling clothing and triathlon shoes. Triathlon shoes are similar to cycling shoes in that they have automatic binding cleats that allow them to clip into the pedals. Tri shoes are optimized for this approach in that they may be padded to allow the athlete more comfort while not wearing socks after the swim, they may have holes in them to allow the water from the swim to drain easily, and may have only one or two velcro straps instead of three to allow for ease of fastening while cycling.

This is just a general view of the more obvious equipment required to compete in a triathlon. Of course, to begin, you don't need the most expensive bike with the carbon fibre frame or to have your brake and chain cables running inside the tubing, these modifications are for a later date when you too have become obsessed with shaving seconds of PBs. For now, decide you are going to compete in one, target a specific triathlon as your first, and arrange a training schedule to suit. It is a good idea to join a club as training with others will allow you to learn and get you out on those days that you would prefer to sit in front of the telly than go on a 40k cycle. Above all, have fun. Good luck and ENJOY!