thelivo wrote:You say you dont fancy another one but i bet you'll be training for ironman and peeing in your shorts before you know it
skint wrote:In the past twelve months I've subjected the Cotic Roadrat and its saucy Essence Bicycles bespoke build to a road race, a mountain bike race, a lengthy and not entirely direct commute, and a café bunch ride, and reviewed them all here on Vorb.
The fact that it's survived all these challenges, plus another few thousand kms of everyday riding is testament to how versatile this bike is. That it managed to do all this with no dramas whatsoever, and do them at a faster than expected pace, suggests that when Cotic were developing the Roadrat, they pretty much nailed it.
So armed with this confidence I set out to put it through the latest challenge a couple of weeks ago – my first proper triathlon.
I'm not much of a fan of running (cycling is just so much more efficient), and apart from a very brief corporate triathlon years ago haven't swum in anything resembling a race in years, so it was always going to be a big ask. But a free entry, a fair degree of peer pressure and a Cotic eyeballing me every time I went into the shed, led me to give it a crack.
The pre-race transition area was fascinating. There's just so much stuff – flash wetsuits (I'd recycled a spring suit I used to go surfing in when I was a teenager, though a bit tighter these days), rubber bands holding shoes clipped into top shelf carbon tri bikes, and crazy elastic laces in running shoes to save those precious seconds in transition.
Training-wise I'd had visions of getting up at dawn and running to the beach, swimming valiantly though the surf, then running home. But the grim reality was that other than the cycling leg, the training never really eventuated. A couple of runs reinforced why I'm such a fan of cycling, and there was always something more pressing than going swimming.
The beach start wasn't so bad – it was warm, and I'd recovered from the small pre-swim thing I'd had. The swim itself though was a very different story. Something about diving into cold water and needing to go fast brought back all those high-school swimming sports nightmares. The first half went by in a churn of whitewater, feet in face, filling goggles and struggled breath. The second half of the swim took about ten times as long, and was about as much fun as drowning, which I seriously contemplated doing, just to make the horror stop. I had to dig deep (or HTFU as a workmate might say) and chant that the bike leg was my strongest and it would save me from total failure.
The transition was pretty smooth, and I even managed to remember that the helmet had to go on first. I wasn't the last out of the water, and made it in before the lead woman, so some dignity was salvaged.
The ride started badly – out of transition and straight up a hill, but a section of compacted gravel played right into the Cotic's hand, and we passed a couple of riders gingerly picking their way across on their race bikes.
Once I'd managed to get the pulse down to a sub-chest explosion level things got better, and we started making ground. While the hilly course didn't necessarily suit the 9-speed setup of the Cotic it wasn't doing too badly. I'd read somewhere that cadence was the triathlete's friend, so just sat there thinking about keeping the gears low and the revs and speed high. I almost managed to enjoy the ride, and coming back through the tighter corners into the transition the stable handling of the Cotic enabled me to snatch a few more places before the dismount line.
Again, transition was trouble free, even without the flash gear. Rack bike, shoes on, helmet off, go.
Just into the run something went wrong. At a guess I'd say it was a lack of motivation, but by way of excuse I'll say it was ingested seawater mixing with the up-down motion of running. It wasn't much fun there for a bit, but a short walk and a focus on breathing snatched survival from the jaws of defeat. By the time I made the first drink station I was feeling better, and then I remembered that running is even more dependent on rhythm than this skinny white boy dancing, so settled down a bit, eventually making it to the final straight.
From somewhere I managed to pull a sprint, taking it by a nose from some guy I’d never met, yet hugged afterwards in a mixture of consolation that I'd undeservedly beaten him, absolute relief that it was over, and a desperate attempt to keep the seawater and breakfast down.
I have no idea what my time or place was, and nor, frankly, do I want to know. Somewhere in the whole pre-race positive visualization (thank you Lance Armstrong training book!) phase I downgraded my expectations from a mid-pack finish to mere survival. On this count I succeeded. Just.
As yet I'm quite convinced I'll not be straying into the sport of triathlon ever again. Duathlon perhaps, but the swim was damn-near a killer. The flipside is a skyrocketing respect for those that complete a tri and manage a second. And to those beautiful freaks that take the sport all the way to the Olympics (Bevan Docherty won the pro race the next day): you're mad. Hard as nails, but mad nonetheless.
Here I must confess that the Cotic Roadrat possibly isn't the best triathlon bike on the market, and you'd probably be best to buy something else if that was your aim. But the embedded vision of the joys I've had riding it got me through that horrific swim. When the chips were down and I was struggling up the beach coughing up seawater and fumbling with a wetsuit zip, the Cotic was quite possibly the best tri bike ever created.