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  1. #1
    Junior Member elphaba's Avatar
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    single mom on a small budget - new to tri

    Hello I have just started training for my first tri in August 08. I was a swimmer in highschool (5 years ago) and a lifeguard so I am not concerned about the swim. I think I can handle the run if I train right. BUT I have no experience with biking (other than what I did when I was 8-12yrs old). However, I am absolutely committed to this race. If I never do another one I WILL do this one and train hard for it until then. I am going through a divorce and I think having this goal will keep me in a positive state of mind and help me learn to invest in myself - something I often neglected in the past 3 years. (because I know you all want to know my life story in addition to reading yet another newbie thread )

    I *think* I will like this sport but I am a little scared of spending a ton of money on gear I may not use after this race. I am willing to upgrade later if I decide I love the sport but for now I am not comfortable investing a bunch of cash into something I am unsure of. I am on the newly-divorced-single-mom-who-is-still-in-college-and-who's-child-is-still-in-diapers-budget.

    That being said, I realize that being new to the sport and having gear that hinders rather than helps is also going to be a waste of my money.

    I have been doing some research and I guess my basic questions are:
    1) Because of time restraints and the fact that I trust no one with my baby I need to be able to train with my daughter in tow. This means I have to include the cost of a jogging/bike trailer in my total investment. I am wary of the wal mart variety but I am also wary of the overpriced label-***** variety. My daughter's safety and comfort are a big concern because if she isn't happy in it then obviously I am not going to make her ride in it. I am looking into used ones but without being able to try them out I am pretty confused about what is a good deal. I am also concerned about the fact that it is cold here in the midwest for another few months and while I could like to start training outdoors asap - i am not sure if taking my little one along in colder weather is responsible parenting. (she may be fine if i bundle her up but I just don't know)

    2) I initially thought I could swing about 700 for a TREK 1.2 TRIPLE WSD. http://ynotcycling.com/itemdetails.c...ogId=39&id=533
    (the girl in me says "its sooo preeetty" but I realize thats not gonna make me like riding it or paying for it lol)
    I know there are better more expensive bikes out there and that 700 is considered a minimum investment to many. But to me its the maximum. The more I think about it though the less comfortable I am with spending that much money initially. If I could get a cheaper bike and use it for even a year or so it seems like less of a risk. I was looking at this one
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/dawes/sheila.htm (once again the girly-girl in me says "its pink!!!")
    (please no bikesdirect shilling attacks - i've searched the forums and i am up to speed. i just wanna know if the bike would be good enough for my purposes)

    and then there is the even cheaper option of the toy store type like this one
    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ...uct_id=4994755 (girl in me says "its ugly" )

    I am also not above used bikes. I just can't seem to find any that are for women - thought I am 5 ft 9 ish so that may not be as much of an issue as it would be if I were shorter

    The tri I will be doing is a sprint distance so I am not sure if I will be riding more than 30 miles at a time in training. However I am interested in using the bike to commute. I live in a small town but live about 30 miles from school so the commuting would just be for quick trips to the store, park, etc.

    Any suggestions on this or anything else you think a newbie needs to know would be much appreciated! What other gear is an absolute must? Thanks! sorry for the length!

  2. #2
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    If it was me I'd try and borrow a bike for the first one. I have no doubt you'll be hooked, but after you've done a few tris, and a bit of training, you'll have a much better idea of what you'll need as you progress.

    Don't worry too much about results in your first - aim just to finish and have fun. People won't care what you ride so just beg, borrow or steal anything you can and have a blast.

    /k

  3. #3
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    Used bikes are not a bad idea.

    A women's design bike is not actually a women's specific design. It's really a short torso/long leg design *g* and there are guys that do better on that kind of geometry. I'm female, but I've got a long torso and short legs, so "men's" bikes work fine for me. Your measurements (height, inseam/pubic bone height, armspan) give you clues as to which is better for you. If you have a local bike shop that sells used bikes, they can help you out a lot.

    You can buy bike trailers used, and for your purposes, that's probably the best way to go. Trailers can also be used for grocery shopping and as a stroller, so even if it turns out you don't do a triathlon this year, it can be very handy for keeping your car parked and your gas bill down.

    As far as cold goes, if your daughter is old enough to talk, she can tell you if she's cold. If she's not old enough to talk and you don't have your mom or another experienced mom around to act as a mentor, I would avoid taking her out for long trips in the trailer in cold, dry weather. If it is between 25-45F, 15-30 minute trips should be ok. Over 45F, she should be fine for longer. If it's wet or very windy, you may want to be more cautious.

  4. #4
    Cheese State Poseur Jose Perez's Avatar
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    You should also look into used TT and Tri bikes on tri specific forums such as beginnertriathlete.com trifuel.com and slowtwitch.com for some pretty good deals and gear advice

  5. #5
    Junior Member elphaba's Avatar
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    thanks so much everyone! i will keep an eye out for a bike and trailer i can either borrow or get used. one of my college professors who is also a good friend does triathlons so i think i will track him down and see if he knows anyone selling their bike. thanks again

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    Elphaba,

    A couple of thoughts.

    First off, used isn't a bad idea, but keep in mind it isn't fullproof either. You may save some $$$, but unless you are comfortable with your own wrenching, you will pay some on the back end in ongoing maintenance (many shops offer free tuneups etc). Not a huge costs necessarily but something worth considering. This goes for a bikesdirect bike as well.

    Also, don't get too hung up on the bike. It is amazing what you can buy these days. I ride a full carbon GIant OCR. Retails for $1800. A buddy of mine got a Schwinn fastback on clearance last year for around $500. It was mail order from Performance, so he gets the free tuneups from the local shop, but I assembled it for him. As a result I also took it for a test ride. Honestly it rode GREAT. I actually found myself wishing I had saved $1300 and bought one of those instead of mine!!!

    Go test ride a bunch. Keep an eye on craigslist, and scour the local shops. Right now it is a little late, but you can still get lucky and find a shop with some '07 stock taking up space for the spring stock and you might be able to get a deal.

    -D

  7. #7
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    I entered my first triathlon last year and was amazed at the variety of bikes used. This was at the Subaru all-women's triathlon in Naperville, where many of the 2500 women are doing their first triathlon. There was were mountain bikes, uprights (one even with a basket on the front), a folding bike (!) and then there were high-end tri-specific bikes and road bikes too. I was somewhere in the middle, with an "entry-level" $800 road bike (I am still in sticker shock) but I can tell you I passed a lot of way more expensive bikes, and was passed by some too. In your first triathlon it's not going to matter what your bike is. From my experience, and based on your attitude in your message, I'd say that day will be one exhilaration and pride and amazement at your accomplishment. You're going to swim, bike and run all in one day, distances that many people in your every-day life wouldn't do individually, even at a sprint distance. How well you do will depend more on your training than your equipment (provided your bike doesn't break down). If you train pulling a child and trailer, think how much stronger your body will be so the day of the race, unencumbered by all that, you'll feel like you're flying! Buy a bike that will get you through at least a season, or more. If you stay with triathlon and decide to upgrade in the future, you'll be glad you didn't spend TOO much on your first bike, but don't spend so little you end up regretting the purchase and it interferes with your enjoyment or ability to train and race.

    I agree, try to find a shop that sells used bikes and you have a good feeling that they're honest with you, and go that route. Or watch Craig's list or the classified in the various forums. But don't spend $700 if it's not in your budget because this time it's not going to be the bike, it's going to be your attitude that takes you across the finish line (not to mention you'll be running at that point LOL).

    You asked about other must-have equipment. If you're comfortable cycling and running in a bathing suit, a sprint distance is short enough you can get away without padding for the bike. Personally I visited several running and bike shops until I found a pair of tri-shorts (small, quick-dry chamois) and tri top (tight-fitting so it doesn't create drag in the swim) on the clearance rack. You will need a certified bike helmet (all sold these days are). Make sure you have quality shoes for running - you'll log a lot of miles training and don't want to be injured by skimping on your footwear. Many people save time in the transition by skipping socks - not me. I don't like to run bare-foot and I'm never going to podium so I go for comfort. Other than that, there are all kinds of extras you may add but don't have to.

    Spend as little as you can to get out there, participate, hopefully complete, and totally enjoy the results of your training.

    -- Joolie
    Last edited by joolied; 03-09-08 at 09:17 AM.

  8. #8
    Junior Member elphaba's Avatar
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    thanks so much everyone I at first thought any old bike would do for now but then I started doing research on training and got brainwashed. Thanks for the reality check I found the local bike shops within a 40 mile radius (you have to travel at least 30 to get anywhere in this part of the world) so I will browse around... also as my mama always taught me - never underestimate the power of the garage sale (or craigslist for this generation)
    thanks again i am so excited to start!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Rahzel's Avatar
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    I'll echo the positive sentiments regarding buying a used bike. I have a few other thoughts as well!

    The Trek 1.2 WSD is a good bike; so is the Trek 1.2 for men. You should find a shop that can make an intelligent judgment as to whether or not WSD is correct for you--as another poster pointed out, WSD just means long legs/short torso.

    Edit: I was going to recommend some of the bikesdirect bikes, but it seems as though you've done that leg of research! Awsome

    Remember to invest in some clip-on aerobars--they are the one accessory that is virtually required for triathlon participation. It will make your bike leg much faster

    One last thought. For an investment of about $77.45 you can get a cheap bicycle trainer which will allow you to ride your bike indoors and keep your Little One within sight (and most importantly, safe) at all times. Perhaps this will be an even more important investment in your case than the aerobars!

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    Junior Member elphaba's Avatar
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    thanks so much! i was wondering about aerobars! i was also wondering about an indoor trainer... there is currently snow up to my knees outside right now! not exactly cycling weather... but hopefully this is the last of the snow and 25 degree weather!

  11. #11
    Senior Member bvfrompc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rahzel View Post
    Remember to invest in some clip-on aerobars--they are the one accessory that is virtually required for triathlon participation.
    Which is weird becuase I was able to complete a number of triathlons without them. They certainly make you faster, but for beginners they could do more harm than good as they they take your hands away from the brakes and the bike handling is very compromised with them.

    Come to think of it, I don't have a trainer either.

    Regarding the little one, I got a $50 very used Burley at a garage sale when my boy was 1, he rode in it for three years, then his little sister rode in it for two years, and I will be passing it on to another family this spring. Besides pumping up the tires every now and then, it has been care-free.

    Welcome to the sport!

  12. #12
    suburban rasta mon biggsmoothe's Avatar
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    good luck training towards your first tri elphaba!! it will definitely give you something to think about other than your divorce. and if you have any free time now, you won't once you get the tri-bug!!

    be sure to check out beginnertriathlete.com. its a great site for information, plus its a good online community with training plans, training logs, online mentors and coaching...all kinds of stuff.

  13. #13
    Junior Member elphaba's Avatar
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    bvfrompc - thats a good point about reduced handling with aerobars. Maybe I should stick to regular handlebars for a little bit until I get used to cycling. Lets just hope I drive a bike better than I drive a car... ha ha!
    Also I was thinking that the indoor trainer would be good in theory but I kept invisioning my daughter trying to climb up with me while i was using it. (she is so good at sabotage! or as she says "tway-twage" lol) So the trainer may be a safety issue with her around. I know I can't use my treadmill for the same reason.
    Thats awesome you could use the burley trailer for 5+ years after it was already used! I have seen a few used ones on ebay so maybe I will go that route.

    biggsmoothe - thanks for the tip! i'll check that site out

  14. #14
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    Hi elphaba,

    Just wanted to chime in here and wish you luck on your training and future tri! I too, am entering my very first triathlon (sprint) this June...and I am SOOOOOO excited about it! Ever since I discovered this bike forum, I've been coming here daily to read up on training advice and tips about bikes, clothing, accessories...you name it! I find this place to be an invaluable resource! I'd love to hear how your training is coming along and maybe share/swap stories with you. You can PM or email me privately if you ever feel like chatting about it.

    Linda

  15. #15
    Senior Member Rahzel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvfrompc View Post
    Which is weird becuase I was able to complete a number of triathlons without them. They certainly make you faster, but for beginners they could do more harm than good as they they take your hands away from the brakes and the bike handling is very compromised with them.
    Yes, your reaction time with regard to braking is decreased when you ride in the aerobars. Does it really matter in triathlons? No. You will probably be riding on a closed course, or a course with very little car traffic. There is little bike traffic as well, since you're not allowed to draft.

    However, it is absolutely true that one should be careful when doing *training rides* with aerobars, since it is more difficult to react to unseen obstacles (cars, potholes, etc) when your hands are 10 inches from the brakes. And of course, one shouldn't use them if s/he's riding with someone or in a group.

    And regarding handling, once I got used to aerobars, I found that my handling was only slightly less stable than on my road bike. We're talking needing maybe two more inches of road space to hold my line.

    Anyway, for all but the most cautious of folks, the significant speed and comfort benefit of aerobars offsets the risk associated with using them in a race situation. All but two racers used aerobars at Kona 2007, and at any given triathlon I attend, virtually all of the racers in the top 2/3 of the field (90-95%) use aerobars. I think that says something about their usefulness in triathlon

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    Senior Member bvfrompc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rahzel View Post
    Yes, your reaction time with regard to braking is decreased when you ride in the aerobars. Does it really matter in triathlons? No. You will probably be riding on a closed course, or a course with very little car traffic. There is little bike traffic as well, since you're not allowed to draft.

    However, it is absolutely true that one should be careful when doing *training rides* with aerobars, since it is more difficult to react to unseen obstacles (cars, potholes, etc) when your hands are 10 inches from the brakes. And of course, one shouldn't use them if s/he's riding with someone or in a group.

    And regarding handling, once I got used to aerobars, I found that my handling was only slightly less stable than on my road bike. We're talking needing maybe two more inches of road space to hold my line.

    Anyway, for all but the most cautious of folks, the significant speed and comfort benefit of aerobars offsets the risk associated with using them in a race situation. All but two racers used aerobars at Kona 2007, and at any given triathlon I attend, virtually all of the racers in the top 2/3 of the field (90-95%) use aerobars. I think that says something about their usefulness in triathlon
    Did you miss the part about her being a beginner??

  17. #17
    Senior Member Rahzel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvfrompc View Post
    Did you miss the part about her being a beginner??
    No. The response you quoted was in response to your comment about how you have forgone aerobars in your previous triathlon experience. I have already responded to the OP in a previous post. Sorry if I did not make that clear in my response, though I thought the fact that I quoted you and not the OP would have been sufficient.

    Regardless, safety issues are relevant for anyone, beginners and experienced triathletes alike. If you have some safety-related reason that beginners shouldn't use aerobars during a closed-course, minimal-traffic triathlon, and occasionally on low-risk training rides, I'm all ears.

  18. #18
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    it's your first tri - forget about tribars!

    Just get any old bike and have fun. Once you know what you want, and your budget provides, go nuts - but aerobars for a first tri is unnecessary overkill.

    /k

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    Senior Member bvfrompc's Avatar
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    I would make an argument about beginners and tribars, but Kakman covered it.

    BTW 2/3 = 66%

  20. #20
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elphaba View Post
    Because of time restraints and the fact that I trust no one with my baby I need to be able to train with my daughter in tow.
    I understand the concern about trusting someone else with your baby while you're out training, but let's do some risk analysis here: Which is potentially more hazardous to your baby - being indoors with someone that you (hopefully) checked out first, or out in traffic in a lightweight bike trailer?

  21. #21
    Junior Member elphaba's Avatar
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    swc7916 - good point and not one i haven't considered. there is a paved path around our reservoir for runners, bikers, etc. I planned on using that when she is with me or side streets where there is virtually no traffic. It may get boring going round the same path all the time but there is no way I would feel safe taking her out in traffic. I don't even know if I feel safe taking ME out in traffic! lol.

  22. #22
    Junior Member elphaba's Avatar
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    i found a bike on craigslist for 400. its a 2005 trek 1000 wsd... is this a good price for that? its in almost new condition... i used a bike fitting formula and its the size i would need if i go by that. Is this too much of a risk though? Would it just be better all around to go to an LBS even if it is more expensive? If only I hadn't done so much research... I would probably be happily biking on one from wal mart right now all the while not knowing a more expensive bike would make any difference. My goal is to get in shape and FINISH this tri... i am not expecting to place.
    Are the more expensive bikes better because they are lighter and faster? because thats not a motivator for me to spend a lot of money right now. If its for comfort or if the more expensive bikes are easier on your body, thats what would motivate me to spend more. Any advice on that?


    btw - i really appreciate everyones kindness and advice

  23. #23
    Squirrelly Member trsidn's Avatar
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    The trail may be better, but keep in mind, falls are possible on a bike, not necessarily a crash. Your baby may still be at somewhat of a risk. Some semblance of training is different than tooling around the neighborhood.

    I don't know the value of the bike you talk about. For the record, I did my first tri on a hybrid. Not necessarily recommended, but if it's a sprint, it is not a huge issue. A plain road bike would be more appropriate.

    If at all possible, borrowing would be good, just to get the feel of a bike, rather than buy one you may wish to replace soon.

    Yes, the more expensive bikes have better components, and are generally lighter. I would not say they are necessarily more comfortable, as long as what you get fits you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Yet more proof that I'm.. well, pretty much right about everything.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Rahzel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvfrompc View Post
    BTW 2/3 = 66%
    Again, apologies for not making my post as crystal as possible for you. What I should have said was "virtually all (aka 90-95%) of the top 2/3 of age group athletes use aerobars." Meaning 90-95% of the top 2/3. Does that make more sense?

    BTW 2/3 actually is closer to 67% if you want to get nitpicky about it.

    I'm still waiting for you to give me a response to the following: "If you have some safety-related reason that beginners shouldn't use aerobars during a closed-course, minimal-traffic triathlon, and occasionally on low-risk training rides, I'm all ears."

    I agree that if a beginner is just out there to have fun, then it doesn't matter if s/he uses aerobars or not. Heck, even racing on a hybrid bike would be fun! But if said beginner has any interest in improving or going faster or whatever, aerobars on a road bike are the way to go.

  25. #25
    Junior Member elphaba's Avatar
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    trsidn- hmm i guess i didn't think about higher speeds training would require. **SUPPOSEDLY** the trailers are supposed to stay upright even if your bike falls over.... but I don't think I'd like to test that theory. I was also reading up on how for young children (mine is 2 yrs old) bumpy rides in a bike trailer or bike seat may cause the same type of harm as shaken baby syndrome. Again... not sure if its true but I'm not willing to test it. So I guess I will forgo the biking with baby option until I can talk to some other parents who have done it (for training)
    what about using a jogging stroller? That should be fine for training for the run right?

    as far as borrowing a bike - that would mean I would have to know someone who owns a bike. lol. The only people around here that ride bikes are amish or drunks riding their beer home in front mounted baskets I love ohio!

    edited to add: I just looked up the owners manuals for common bike trailers. They are not to be used at speeds over 10-15 mph. I have no idea how fast i would be able to go but 15 mph seems to be the average speed for cyclers (according to googling) so that basically proves bike trailers aren't intended for training speeds. also proves i need to get out of the house!
    Last edited by elphaba; 03-11-08 at 04:49 PM.

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