Thursday, April 5, 2018

Promoting the "Triathlon" Ride Category (and Clearing Up Some Misconceptions)

by Paul Huey-Burns

Last year, PPTC introduced a new ride category - “Triathlon.” Our intent was to open our rides to cyclists who participate in triathlons and who might be looking for new routes and new riding partners. This also has the potential to increase the range of cyclists interested in joining our Club, expanding our membership. We had some success with the new classification last year and we’re hopeful that we’ll gain additional momentum this year. We’ll have “triathlete-specific” rides and include the “Triathlon” category in some multi-class rides. (I encourage all ride leaders for multi-class rides to consider including the “Triathlon” category in their listings.) For the multi-class rides, the triathletes should depart separately from the other classifications and generally ride as a separate group, although, of course, there likely will be some overlap as faster cyclists on road bikes overtake less fast cyclists on tri-bikes.

To address what I consider to be a misperception: There is nothing inherently unsafe about riding in proximity to a cyclist riding a tri-bike, even if that cyclist is in “aero” position. (And you triathletes out there know that most races are not “draft-legal,” so you shouldn’t be riding that close to other cyclists anyway.) As we all have experienced, there are some road cyclists who engage in proper “ride etiquette” (holding their lines through turns, maintaining comfortable distances from cyclists who might not be comfortable riding in a tight pack, signaling their intentions, pointing out road hazards) and some who do not. Similarly, there are some triathletes who engage in proper ride etiquette and some who do not. I have ridden extensively with road cyclists and triathletes and observe a range of behavior with both groups. (Although I do think that most triathletes are at least as safety conscious as road cyclists. No-one wants to miss their race(s) because they’ve crashed their bike.) Of course, all cyclists should be careful and practice “safe cycling.”

I truly enjoy cycling with both my road and my triathlon riding partners. Road cyclists and triathletes have much more in common than they have differences.  Members of both groups tend to be committed to our sport and to work hard to get better (and to enjoy an occasional post-ride libation). As we move into the spring and summer, I hope that we can develop this program, for the betterment of the Club. Please email me if you have any questions about the Triathlon classification.


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