Once you are into triathlon, you very soon discover that there is a lot to learn and and explore (3 of my favorite verbs already:) on a wide variety of aspects.
This is a great quality of the sport. I guess it is what hooked me, as well as many other people, to triathlon since so much of what I learn is also applicable to a better lifestyle.
How to bake a healthy banana bread, how to quickly strip off with no tease, the multiple applications of cable ties, how to fix a leaky tap with a punctured tube …and that was for 2015 only!
Each year, the off and on season, bring opportunities to test new things. I’m a Jedî of the Yodathereisnotry school so I Do think fast ….after having thought slowly.
After assessment, I would typically quickly change and go for a new training method, race preparation, or diet but when it comes to new kit and technical gear…well I am slow.
I have some previous experience with motorsport and windsurfing, and what I now like the most in endurance sport is the non-mechanical aspect. Which is why I never totally relax on the bike during a race. I guess I can say I’m suffering of some form of OCD and I’ll be more specific about this later in this post.
Here is the list of new kit and gear I sweated in and on this past season. New running shoes (On Cloud, Zoot Alii,..), new second-hand wetsuit (new size for a better fit), new trisuit (no more frontzip chaffing), new saddle (ISM attack allows more movement than ISM Racing), new cycling shoes (Bont to replace Nike), new helmet (Spesh propero to replace one that crashed in airport-handling), new colors for the outer cables, new pedals (same but new and blue), new bar tape (blue), new stem (25 degree to go lower), new wheels (you could not believe how untrue they were:), new chain rings (for more bite).
Before I reveal the winner of my best gear of 2015, let’s mention the 2 others on the podium:
The Zoot TT short has a specific chamois for the aero position and it works great. This is what I wore the most in training, fine tuning my position on the trainer.
Also on the podium: 25 mm tyres. I was impressed, less by the comfort than the improved grip, especially on the front tyre. It was a world of difference when descending from the Alpe d’Huez.
Now the winner is, hands down, the chain catcher K-edge pro road. Since I set it up last June I simply never had any chain drop
Truth be told it is a relief as it has been a very sensitive issue for me in racing. To the point that I developped an OCD, an Obsessive Chainrings Disorder.
For some reason, it appears to happen only in racing, nearly at all races in fact, my chain drop PB was at Ironman Wales 2014 maybe due to also almost losing the bottom bracket.
I developed the habit to recce a bike course with as the main purpose to identify where and how often I shall need to operate the front derailleur shifter.
I decided to go for a chain catcher right after my first race in 2015. My objective was to ride the bike leg under 1 hour which would put me in the top contenders. I did 1h01min including a full stop at the bottom of a hill because of a chain drop!
Since then I enjoyed a chain drop-free end of the season, and that means no more mechanical excuses, no more grease on the new bar tape or tri suit, and no more disgusting taste of the energy bar.
Now bring on 2016. More optimisation (one of my keyword) to come, new gear and kit to put to the test of real life and we will review some in future posts, but the K-edge chain catcher will definitely remain on my bike for the full season.
PS: On a technical note, there are plenty of brands and models of chain catcher. I chose the K-edge pro model because it is very easy to set up and can be fine tuned
with the second screw independently of the front derailleur which is always a pain to (re)attach.