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Advice for mom that knows nothing!

Old 04-24-24, 05:57 PM
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Advice for mom that knows nothing!

Hi,

I am totally new to the triathlon world. My daughter is a competitive swimmer and has started to do some triathlons and is really enjoying them!

I read the sticky note on buying bikes, I truthfully still have no idea where to start.

She is 14, 5’3.

I would like to get her a used road bike and would love some suggestions! Since she is new to the sport, I’d just like something good enough and if she wants to get more serious we will of course upgrade.

My daughter asked to research the best way to train….I went down the rabbit hole and much like buying a bike I’m not sure what to suggest. She swims 5-6 days a week (1.5-2 hours) and has been going for short runs after practice lately.

Right now she uses my crossover mountain bike for races.

I appreciate any ideas or suggestions.
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Old 04-24-24, 06:10 PM
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Look on FB Marketplace as well as local Craigslist for a good quality road bike. I wouldn’t at this point go to a dedicated triathlon bike as she needs to learn to ride on roads, deal with traffic and how the bike rides, shifts, etc…. Maybe look if there’s a local cycling club that has a beginner level she could ride with, they have knowledge of roads and routes. Also know that the swim leg of a tri is the least important in some respects in terms of how competitive you are. The running leg is very important and she might want to thunk about developing that sport. You need to be a good swimmer to be competitive, but being proficient in the bike and in the run is equally important. Great sport to get involved in at that age.
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Old 04-24-24, 06:19 PM
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Thank you for your response.

The swim schedule is because she is in competitive swimming, not specifically to train for triathlons.

Track is just starting up at her school, she is hoping to join the team this year. So hopefully that helps with some running technique.

I have been looking at lots of used bikes on FB groups and Kijiji (in Canada). I found an Orbea Orca 51cm that’s actually still new in a box and needs to be put together for $1200 CAD obo. Thoughts?
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Old 04-24-24, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Shelbyhed
Thank you for your response.

The swim schedule is because she is in competitive swimming, not specifically to train for triathlons.

Track is just starting up at her school, she is hoping to join the team this year. So hopefully that helps with some running technique.

I have been looking at lots of used bikes on FB groups and Kijiji (in Canada). I found an Orbea Orca 51cm that’s actually still new in a box and needs to be put together for $1200 CAD obo. Thoughts?
Track will be good for speed training, I think most of the HS level stuff is short distance, 100-200-400 etc….. where as the Tri distances will be mile, 3 mile, 6.2 etc…. So she wants to think about getting that kind of distance training in. I did a team triathlon once in New Mexico, our teammate on the run had been the NM state running champ in the 200. Had never done much beyond 3 miles. The 6.2 run almost killed him.

I was the swim leg usually on my team races, always been a swimmer, I know the amount of time they put in and the yardage. It’s insane and may make it tough to find time and energy to get the bike fitness up to speed. Maybe concentrate when she can on biking when it’s off season for swimming. Thing is, she doesn’t need to train to win or place top 5, she really and in the beginning only wants to train to complete whatever race she’s in. Many sprint tri’s are /2 mile water, 12-15 on the bike and 2-3 as a run, maybe start at those distances.
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Old 04-24-24, 08:45 PM
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Do you have any thoughts about the Orbea Orca road bike?

The triathlons she has done so far were 500m swim, 12km (~7.5 mile) bike and 5km (~3mile) run.

She did some indoor sprints this winter which were much shorter 200m swim, 5km bike and 1km run. She prefers the longer races.

I hear what you are saying about track, we have the 1500m and 3000m races at her school. I would hope she would learn a little about efficient running styles…

She is just getting into it now, similar to swimming we have always focused on beating your personal best time more than winning.

My youngest is doing the triathlons too, but her age can use any bike. She is only 10. Her last race she was tired at the end so my oldest ran beside her, bare foot, for 1km to encourage her…my oldest had just finished her triathlon. She can go forever it seems!

Again, thank you for responding!!
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Old 04-25-24, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Shelbyhed
Do you have any thoughts about the Orbea Orca road bike?
Obviously you’ve already become aware of how expensive the sport of triathlon can be. And, as the person footing those expenses, I’m sure you don’t want to put out a bunch of money for an activity that might be short-lived. As a parent myself, I’ve seen that happen plenty in youth sports. The bike you mentioned above that is new ‘still in the box’ sounds like a good deal. But I don’t know what the added expense of (proper) assembly at a bike shop would be. As mentioned, there are suitable used bikes to be had from the likes of your local area Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist. (However I’d say use CL with caution because of the trolls that lurk there. That can happen on FB too. But at least you can vet the seller with other local FB friends.) If the interest in triathlon is short-lived…at least you’re not left with an expensive bike that is no longer used, and might be difficult to get ride of. If the interest grows, then you can look into a better bike.

Regarding the youth’s training…it sounds to me like she is doing the right things…distance running on the track team, joining the swim team. Although, my observation with h.s. swim as a parent was this: Unlike in track, it seems that if a kid wants to concentrate on a specific discipline, the coaches don’t cater to that. In other words, if a kid says “I want to concentrate on distance swimming.” the coaches seem to push the concept of making the kid an “all around” swimmer…doing sprints, and the other strokes — one workout for the whole team. Personally, if “I” were the swim coach and had a kid who said they wanted to be my 200/400/500 freestyle specialist…I’d have special workouts for that swimmer, and not make them waste time on the other strokes.

Just need to add a some cycling, and some triathlon-specific workouts like “bricks,” for example.

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Old 05-15-24, 12:04 AM
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I just discovered this thread. Is the OP still around? What did you decide on the Orbea? I don't know much about that bike or that brand but for a "new in box" bike, that sounds like a pretty good deal. At 5'3", 51 is probably just on the top edge of what could be comfortable for her. But at her age, I also would expect a little more growth over the next few years. She would probably grow into that perfectly.

I always go back to the same drill whenever I talk to someone new about triathlon. Regardless of how much time she's spent in the pool, open water swimming, especially in a pack, is a completely different animal. You say she's already done a few short triathlons so I have to assume she's already done the open water swim in a pack. But if not, that is always my concern. Even very experienced competitive swimmers can get unsettled the first time or two when swimming triathlon.

But I hope that she enjoys it and gets hooked for life. Very few things that you can do at high level for decades that will keep you healthy and not beat you up too badly.
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Old 05-15-24, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by VegasJen
I always go back to the same drill whenever I talk to someone new about triathlon. Regardless of how much time she's spent in the pool, open water swimming, especially in a pack, is a completely different animal. You say she's already done a few short triathlons so I have to assume she's already done the open water swim in a pack. But if not, that is always my concern. Even very experienced competitive swimmers can get unsettled the first time or two when swimming triathlon.
Concur 100%

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Old 05-15-24, 11:12 AM
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There has been a lot of recent interest in interval training - preparing for longer runs with multiple short sprints back to back and with only brief recovery between. Supposedly that builds up endurance faster than running below maximal effort for longer stretches. You'll have to google it - I don't claim expertise.

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Old 05-15-24, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Shelbyhed
I found an Orbea Orca 51cm that’s actually still new in a box and needs to be put together for $1200 CAD obo. Thoughts?
I'm not a teenager who might be fashion conscious so this may not work. In the 2010s when I decided to get into mini-tris as a overweight, but otherwise reasonably fit bike commuter, I just used my commuter bike - a 1984 vintage steel tour bike I had bought used for $250. Back when notorious bike thief Igor Kenk and his minions prowled the streets of Toronto, it didn't make sense to park a fancier bike outside my downtown office. As long as the bike is reliable and set up to fit well, it doesn't need to be top of the line, and she can upgrade at a later date if she sticks with it. Personally, I still think old steel road bikes have retro chic appeal, but she may not see it that way!
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Old 05-15-24, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by VegasJen
I just discovered this thread. Is the OP still around? What did you decide on the Orbea? I don't know much about that bike or that brand but for a "new in box" bike, that sounds like a pretty good deal. At 5'3", 51 is probably just on the top edge of what could be comfortable for her. But at her age, I also would expect a little more growth over the next few years. She would probably grow into that perfectly.

I always go back to the same drill whenever I talk to someone new about triathlon. Regardless of how much time she's spent in the pool, open water swimming, especially in a pack, is a completely different animal. You say she's already done a few short triathlons so I have to assume she's already done the open water swim in a pack. But if not, that is always my concern. Even very experienced competitive swimmers can get unsettled the first time or two when swimming triathlon.

But I hope that she enjoys it and gets hooked for life. Very few things that you can do at high level for decades that will keep you healthy and not beat you up too badly.
Hi,
Sorry for the delay in responding.

The person selling the Orbea never got back to me. We ended up buying a second hand Giant Avail 3 Composite bike for her. The woman who rode it before did an Ironman with it so I figured it had to be decent.

I was a bit worried that it might be too big but she seems comfortable with it. It has clip in pedals so now we have to figure out shoes for her…lol, it never ends.

One of the tri’s she completed was open water style, but in a pool. It’s an Olympic sized pool and they removed all the lane ropes and the kids swam in a circle. She thought that was fun and very different.

One of the triathlons I signed her up for in the summer will be in a lake, I think that we be very very interesting for the first time.

For now she has just raced in an old tech suit, but I see that other kids are wearing something more specific for triathlons? Are these the same as tech suits or different material?

Other than shoes for her bike, I’m not prepared to invest too much more at this time. But I just want to learn more if she continues to enjoy the races.
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Old 05-15-24, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker
I'm not a teenager who might be fashion conscious so this may not work. In the 2010s when I decided to get into mini-tris as a overweight, but otherwise reasonably fit bike commuter, I just used my commuter bike - a 1984 vintage steel tour bike I had bought used for $250. Back when notorious bike thief Igor Kenk and his minions prowled the streets of Toronto, it didn't make sense to park a fancier bike outside my downtown office. As long as the bike is reliable and set up to fit well, it doesn't need to be top of the line, and she can upgrade at a later date if she sticks with it. Personally, I still think old steel road bikes have retro chic appeal, but she may not see it that way!
I ended up getting her a used Giant Avail 3 Composite bike. I don’t know if she would appreciate the nostalgia of the 80’s but I sure would!!!!!

I was happy to buy her the bike, since she can use it even if she doesn’t want to continue with triathlons. But, swimming has always been her passion. She has tried lots of other sports over the years, and nothing has ever come close to her love of swimming. So when she opted out of the morning session at her swim meet for a triathlon, I decided I’ll invest in a used bike.
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Old 05-15-24, 03:57 PM
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Thanks for the follow up. I think the bike will be just fine. You can always do simple mods. like a clip-on aero bar. Clipless pedals are always a good add, check out shoes at a local bike shop, best to try on as opposed to mail order.

Try to find a local Tri club, see if anyone has a wetsuit she can try out. Either sleeveless or full. They help in the swim with buoyancy, as well as warmth if the water temps in the lake are cold. Not always needed though and they can be too warm in warmer water temps,
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Old 05-15-24, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Thanks for the follow up. I think the bike will be just fine. You can always do simple mods. like a clip-on aero bar. Clipless pedals are always a good add, check out shoes at a local bike shop, best to try on as opposed to mail order.

Try to find a local Tri club, see if anyone has a wetsuit she can try out. Either sleeveless or full. They help in the swim with buoyancy, as well as warmth if the water temps in the lake are cold. Not always needed though and they can be too warm in warmer water temps,
We have wet suits for when we go boating….I just googled if there is a difference. From what I am reading a tri suit is thinner?
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Old 05-15-24, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Shelbyhed
We have wet suits for when we go boating….I just googled if there is a difference. From what I am reading a tri suit is thinner?
From what I remember, yes. I recall shorties, that had no arms and were cut off at above the knee, or full suits for colder conditions. These were all designed for swimming, not surfing or kayaking,
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Old 05-15-24, 10:38 PM
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Couple things.

First, just me personally, but I run flat pedals and I bike just fine. I'm not saying not to clip in, but it's been proven to be more a matter of personal preference.

Sounds like she has a really good foundation for the swim. Should just be a small adjustment. Wishing her the best.

As for wetsuits, I don't know where you are, but you should be familiar that wetsuits are legal depending on water temperature. I think in most places in the US and Canada, they're pretty much legal year round, but for those of us in the southernmost regions, water temps can get warm enough they're not legal. Best to know before you go. And yes, a dedicated tri wetsuit will be thinner neoprene to allow more flexibility
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Old 05-16-24, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Shelbyhed
Other than shoes for her bike, I’m not prepared to invest too much more at this time. But I just want to learn more if she continues to enjoy the races.
You can certainly do triathlon bike segments as a novice with flat pedals and your running shoes. However if the bike already has click-in pedals, I suppose it is just as easy to the get the extra bike shoes as to get replacement pedals. It takes a little practise to get used to clicking in and out of the pedals, and most people fall once or twice when they forget how to disengage their foot from the pedal and panic, so she should practise a few times while riding on grass!

If you do opt for flat pedals, note that the left pedal has reverse thread, and screws in and out the "wrong way", which is so it won't accidentally unscrew from the bike while riding. The pedals should be marked "L" and "R".

Don't let her wear the bike shoes with the metal cleats on the bottom, on your hardwood or tile floors!

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Old 05-17-24, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker
You can certainly do triathlon bike segments as a novice with flat pedals and your running shoes. However if the bike already has click-in pedals, I suppose it is just as easy to the get the extra bike shoes as to get replacement pedals. It takes a little practise to get used to clicking in and out of the pedals, and most people fall once or twice when they forget how to disengage their foot from the pedal and panic, so she should practise a few times while riding on grass!

If you do opt for flat pedals, note that the left pedal has reverse thread, and screws in and out the "wrong way", which is so it won't accidentally unscrew from the bike while riding. The pedals should be marked "L" and "R".

Don't let her wear the bike shoes with the metal cleats on the bottom, on your hardwood or tile floors!
thank you for all the tips!

Are pedals universal? Or do I need to stay with one brand depending on the bike?
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Old 05-17-24, 09:51 AM
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Not sure what you mean by universal. If you're talking about how they install, then sort of. There are a couple standard sizes. 90% of what you find for a road bike will be correct for you. I personally use Venzo pedals on my bikes. They have a small platform, as opposed to a big, wide platform you typically see on mountain bikes. They come in at <$50 (US) on Amazon and they have an SPD attachment on the other side if you do want to clip in. So one side is flat, other side is SPD. They're a good compromise pedal if you're just learning or aren't sure how you want to go.

Now, one thing I meant when I made that statement, is it's true I don't clip in. But also at your daughter's age, she may yet still grow. Cycling shoes can be pretty expensive for good quality ones. So you can buy cheap knock offs for the time being, invest in quality ones that she may only get a year or two from or just run flat pedals for a few years until she both knows this is something she wants to do and she's done growing.

As for me, even though I don't clip in, I do have specific shoes I bought just for cycling. The ones I'm using right now are actually an indoor soccer shoe by Puma. Reasonably stiff sole, a little bit of a plastic cleat that will grip the pedal well and I don't clip-clop like a horse if I go into a store or around my house wearing them.

And for a little background as to why I chose to go truly clipless, two reasons. First, I ride a small frame as well. I did give clipless a try for 3-4 months. I ran into problems with climbing steep hills in which I was mashing out of the saddle but the toe of my shoe would hit the front tire which would instantly stall me and I would fall over before I ever had a chance to unclip. That's one. The other is I had a significant ankle injury some years ago and the doctor did a remarkable job putting my ankle back together. It works extremely well, given the damage, but he made it clear any significant repeat injury and repair would likely involve the use of screws and plates, which would forever limit the movement. I have nightmares about a crash in which I go one direction but the bike, with my ankle attached, goes the other. Probably would never happen. Probably. But it will for sure never happen if my foot isn't attached to the bike.
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Old 05-17-24, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker
There has been a lot of recent interest in interval training - preparing for longer runs with multiple short sprints back to back and with only brief recovery between. Supposedly that builds up endurance faster than running below maximal effort for longer stretches. You'll have to google it - I don't claim expertise.
Thank you! I will look this up
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Old 05-17-24, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by VegasJen
Couple things.

First, just me personally, but I run flat pedals and I bike just fine. I'm not saying not to clip in, but it's been proven to be more a matter of personal preference.

Sounds like she has a really good foundation for the swim. Should just be a small adjustment. Wishing her the best.

As for wetsuits, I don't know where you are, but you should be familiar that wetsuits are legal depending on water temperature. I think in most places in the US and Canada, they're pretty much legal year round, but for those of us in the southernmost regions, water temps can get warm enough they're not legal. Best to know before you go. And yes, a dedicated tri wetsuit will be thinner neoprene to allow more flexibility
We are in Canada.

Only one of the races she registered in will be in a lake. The rest in our area are using a pool. We have to travel a lot with swimming already, so I’m not looking to travel for other races.
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Old 05-17-24, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Shelbyhed
thank you for all the tips!

Are pedals universal? Or do I need to stay with one brand depending on the bike?
I'm kind of out of the loop but I think the most common is Shimano SPD style. You'll need to check the pedal to see if it says that.

There's also a slight terminology issue. Years ago racing pedals had a style called "toe clips" with a cage the front of the shoe slid into and sometime an additional attaching part under the sole. The newer kind you click onto, are therefore confusingly called "clipless" but I hope that name will die out.

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Old 05-17-24, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker
I'm kind of out of the loop but I think the most common is Shimano SPD style. You'll need to check the pedal to see if it says that.

There's also a slight terminology issue. Years ago racing pedals had a style called "toe clips" with a cage the front of the shoe slid into and sometime an additional attaching part under the sole. The newer kind you click onto, are therefore confusingly called "clipless" but I hope that name will die out.
I do as well. I think cycling has some of the dumbest terminology, and cyclists seem stubborn to change and update. I refuse to participate in the "clipless" semantic nonsense. I also really dislike the "saddle" term, which seems pretty stupid since you don't mount your "saddle" on a "saddle post", which then goes into a "saddle tube".
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Old 05-17-24, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by VegasJen
I do as well. I think cycling has some of the dumbest terminology, and cyclists seem stubborn to change and update. I refuse to participate in the "clipless" semantic nonsense. I also really dislike the "saddle" term, which seems pretty stupid since you don't mount your "saddle" on a "saddle post", which then goes into a "saddle tube".
so…clipless is still a pedal that the shoe attaches to?
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Old 05-17-24, 01:50 PM
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What a lot of the competitive athletes do with their clipless shoes, is leave them mounted on the pedal in the transition area. When they come off the swim, they change into whatever bike clothing is needed, then run in socks or barefoot with the bike to the point where they can mount the mount the bike, then slip their feet into the shoes and tighten up while pedaling slowly. Then off they go on the bike leg. This does save some time, but if only competing for fun, I would just sit and put the shoes on in the transition area. Having the SPD type shoe makes it easier to run to the bike start.
Steve B. is offline  

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