Tri it in winter
It’s still only January and my 2012 triathlon season is underway, but not the kind of race most expect.
This will be my 3rd season competing in Winter Triathlon and I’ve had the great opportunity to compete in the ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships each of those years.
I’ll be competing in the 2012 Winter Triathlon National Championships are in Butte, Montana Sunday January 29th http://www.usatriathlon.org/news/articles/2012/1/012512-winter-tri-preview.aspx
Winter tri is no where near as known as its summer counterpart but equally as challenging and fun. I consider it a good opportunity for more people to get involved with multisport, especially those who live in colder climates or those who come from ski backgrounds instead of swimming background.
So back to my point about not a lot being known about winter tri, here are some of the most common questions I am asked about the sport answered.
Do you run in snowshoes?
No. Winter tri races are generally held on groomed snow or plowed snowy roads. In fact, according to ITU rules snowshoes are not allowed. Most competitors run in a trail shoe or a racing flat with Yak Traks on. If conditions are icy a track spike or spiked trail shoe (like Salomon’s Spikecross) is a great option.
Do you have to use studded bike tires?
Generally not. Most of the bike courses are on snow so studs don’t really provide any more traction just extra weight. If the course is icy they would be awesome to have, but generally a wide well-spaced knobby tired works best.
Do you need a fat tire bike?
As in a bike with 3.8 tires. No, winter triathlon has been around longer than fat tire bikes and competitors have been doing fine using a more standard mountain bikes. That’s not to say they’re not good bikes and are most certainly an advantage in some conditions, primarily very soft snow.
Last year there was one fat tire bike at the ITU World Championships, which probably has to do more with the accessibility of them rather than a competitors choice to use one or not.
I will be putting some knobby tires on my Specialized S-Works 29er for the race, the bike I race XTERRA and mountain bike races on in the summer.
Take a skate ski lesson
The ski leg is the equivenlent of the swim leg in a summer triathlon. It requires the most technique and efficency is key.
If you don’t know much about ski wax have a professional do the job
Ski wax is a big part of Nordic racing and can literally win races. That’s why an inch block of wax cost well into 3 figures.
Run in snow
The uneven and soft surface of snow can throw speedy runners off their form. Practice running in the stuff before you compete
Run low tire pressure
I run about 10 psi in my tires for winter tri, less than half of what I do in the summer, to give me the best traction. It’s pretty difficult to flat in winter tri, but trust me it can be done.