Monday, March 30, 2009

12 weeks, $3649+ and your first triathlon, the Men's Journal plan

When I wrote my Century buyer's guide it was meant as satire. Over the weekend I downed some beers while reading a similiar, but very serious article in Men's Journal by Megan Michelson with an eery sense of deja vu to it. In the Men's Journal plan, you'll only spend $3649 plus tax and $125 in entry fees to get ready for your first triathlon in 12 weeks time. The program had no stipulation on fitness beforehand, and since it was talking about a first triathlon ever, we'll assume it's aimed at any men reading Men's Journal from the most fit to the most portly.

The recommended San Diego triathlon course is a blistering .62 mile swim, 19 mile bike ride, and 6 mile run on a mostly flat course. Nothing terrible right? Never getting in to water before you could probably dog paddle the swim, do the bike ride, and then walk the run portion if you really felt the need to do a triathlon. It might be embarrassing, but you'd struggle through it, if you really felt the need to embarass yourself that is.

So if it's such a short race, why $3649 in equipment to do it? Men's Journal wants you leading the pack and they recommend:

1. Blueseventy Reaction wetsuit - $299
2. Speedo Airseal XR Mirrored goggles - $25
3. Cervelo P2 Carbon - $2700
4. Giro Ionos Helmet - $230
5. Timex Ironman Race trainer - $220
6. Newton Motion AW shoes - $175
7. San Diego International Triathlon race entry fee - $125

The expert advice:

"When shopping for your first tri, think light (road bike, not mountain bike), aerodynamic (spandex, not cotton), and comfortable (padded bike shorts, not running shorts)."

John, avid Men's Journal reader, aspiring to do his first triathlon in an aerodynamic tanktop

My head started spinning... There are light mountain bikes out there, an expert should know the reasons for getting a certain bike. Is a 17 pound mountain bike ok then? And spandex, not cotton because we want to be aerodynamic? What about if John wears a wife-beater tanktop and some tighty-whiteys, that's aerodynamic? Not to mention hot! And comfortable? Triathlons and comfort just don't go together, especially not on a brand new Cervelo P2.

Shopping for and buying a brand new Cervelo P2 just weeks out from your first triathlon is like taking a Formula One car to an autocross when the fastest thing you've ever put your foot into is a Chevy Cavalier. You are going to put it in to a wall and even if you don't it won't take a rocket scientist to see through your transparency. You can just as well hang a huge sign on yourself that says get within six feet of me and you are going down. While triathletes often take a lot of crap for their handling skills, shopping for a Cervelo P2 in less than 12 weeks before a first triathlon is going to fulfill the prophecy and just make JTT mad. Not to mention if you aren't as ripped or as fast as Chrissie Wellington (pictured above), then you're just going to look like a really slow dork on a really fast bike.

The $230 Giro Ionos Helmet might seem awful excessive for a first triathlon, especially when equally as safe and high-quality helmets from Giro and Bell sell at Performance for less than a hundred bucks. But going with the thought of riding a brand new Cervelo P2 at race time, maybe $230 is justifiable insurance when the helmet is probably going to get used. However, I do question the lack of recommendation for the $179.99 Louis Garneu dimpled Supperleggera aero helmet? The expert advice was to think aero, and 21 vents on a traditionally shaped helmet doesn't say aero to me nearly as much as a dimpled time-trial helmet. Besides it will be needed to match the dimpled Zipp wheels you'll be buying once the triatlon bug is caught.

Perhaps most interesting was the training plan. By week 3, John (pictured above) should be able to swim 1000 yards without stopping, easily run 3 miles, and be able to bike at a brisk pace for an hour, all while weight training twice a week.

By week 9-11, John (pictured below) should be able to bike 25 miles in 90 min, averaging 16.7mph on his brand new Cervelo P2. I for one can't wait to see John's success!

John, avid Men's Journal reader, aspiring to do his first triathlon in an aerodynamic tanktop


Unknown said...

Gah. Even I might vomit in my mouth reading those suggestions..

Actually, on par with this level of idiocy are the reviews in the annual Bicycling Magazine buyers guide.

It't so bad and yet, they manage the bad-ness year over year.

I may have to challenge Men's Health to some form of Tri-tard smack down.

Bike Lemming said...

I couldn't even make it through the buyer's guide in Bicycling, what crap!

Men's Journal though, not Men's Health, although they are close to the same.

Nick said...

Bicycling magazine has been an advert rag for years. Not worth a free subscription.

Did they have any articles on how to jump two road categories in two weeks?

Bike Lemming said...

Ha ha, probably Nick... I actually only read Bicycling for my blog ideas. :)

Anonymous said...

I hope for John's sake the plan includes a section on recovery. He's gonna be hurtin' for certain.

Anonymous said...

Woah ... are they serious? I did my first tri on a hybrid bike that I borrowed from my mom. (Go easy; I was 12.) I did my second tri on the cheapest road bike my dad and I could find. With toe straps. I kicked ass.

There's almost nothing stupider than a one-timer with the best gear out there.

Bike Lemming said...

Word sista mellowvello...

jeff said...

Just 2 questions; 1-That is .62 miles for the swim, right? Cuz if it's 62 miles, I'm out! And 2-Can I draft behind John?

Bike Lemming said...

Jeff, a mega triathlete like John would never allow drafting as you may get close enough to steal one of the bottles mounted behind his seat.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, hate to bust your bubble, but drafting is not allowed in triathlon.