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2016-10-18 4:56 AM


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Subject: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
I have been competing in triathlons now for just over a year. I am a beginner triathlete. I have limited bike handling skills and I have fallen off the bike at races. I am perplexed by the number of triathlons that advertise themselves as " ideal for beginners" when they most certainly are not. Case in point: just last Sunday I was at a race where the RD asked the competitors how many were doing their first triathlon and a large percentage said yes. He went on to expound on just how great the course was for first-timers. Not thirty minutes later some huge ocean swells developed and the RD asked that anyone with limited ocean swimming experience to withdraw from the swim. I have also ridden many bike courses again advertised as beginner-friendly which were mostly hilly and very technical. Maybe it is just me, but if a triathlon labels itself as beginner-friendly it should have a relatively easier swim and a bike course.


2016-10-18 7:18 AM
in reply to: onefinwonder

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
I would think that any triathlon with an open water swim could present challenges beyond any RD's control as weather systems move in and out. As for biking most triathlons put out a bike course ahead of time that allows for review/preview to judge one's ability and training they have performed prior to making that decision.

As for your original question I have found most sprints/super sprints put on by local YMCA's to be beginner friendly, especially in the mid-atlantic region. I know you are in California but it would provide a place to look.
2016-10-18 7:18 AM
in reply to: onefinwonder

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
Well, I did 8 tris this year......5 sprints, 1 international and two half iron distance races. I kinda freaked at my first open water swim....and it was 500yds (in a lake). No big deal, once I settled down. I was more than a little freaked on the 600 m ocean swim, though. Those are NOT (IMO) beginner-friendly.

Oddly enough, the two most enjoyable swims I had all year......were in the HIM's.

The problem with ocean swims is (IMO), it's tough for people who don't live there to get in any practice. The last thing I wanted to do, day before a race (when I arrived) is go out beyond the breakers by myself.
2016-10-18 7:59 AM
in reply to: onefinwonder

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon

Well, it sort of depends on the athlete. A strong swimmer will not be as intimidated by a race with an ocean swim, but might find the bike or run really tough. My first tri had a pool swim, an easy two loop bike, and a one loop run. I chose that race for a few reasons, one of which was that it had a pool swim. 

If you were to look at a race without taking into account the beginner's background or ability, I'd think you would want: a) a swim that is not crowded, and with calm water, b) a bike course that is not crowded, with little or no turnarounds, and c) a run that is relatively flat with at least two aid stations. And, as a bonus, the race would have lots of fan support/music/etc.

2016-10-18 9:49 AM
in reply to: onefinwonder

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
It sounds like you really need to work on your bike handling skills. You should not be falling off your bike during a race. You are literally a danger to yourself and others. For example, I ride anywhere from 2000-5000 miles a year and have been doing tris for 4 years now. This week, my husband and I are practicing water bottle handups for my long race next weekend. It is my weakest bike handling skill, so I am working on it. Do NOT be that person who rides into other cyclists or can't ride in a straight line.

If you are concerned about an OWS, find a race that is in a pool or a small race in a very calm lake. Even then, storms can move in and make it dangerous or difficult. Sometimes, you just have to roll with things. Decide whether or not you are ready for the challenge.

Like another poster said, what is considered unacceptable for one beginner might be perfectly fine for another. No one race can be everything to everyone.
2016-10-18 10:20 AM
in reply to: onefinwonder

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon

Originally posted by onefinwonder I have also ridden many bike courses again advertised as beginner-friendly which were mostly hilly and very technical. Maybe it is just me, but if a triathlon labels itself as beginner-friendly it should have a relatively easier swim and a bike course.

Any triathlon with ocean swimming is not going to be beginner friendly. Swells and waves are not compatible with first timers.

If you have limited bike handling skills, then what seems "very technical" to you may not seem so technical to a more experienced rider.

How have you fallen off the bike? When stopping or when turning or what?



2016-10-18 1:02 PM
in reply to: #5202244


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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
Thank you for your responses. The first time I fell off the bike was after a steep descent into a sharp right turn. The second time was at a dismount line at the bottom of a steep hill where I could not unclip fast enough. Perhaps I was not clear enough but my ultimate point is a truly novice athlete may not have the wherewithal to preview the course by driving it or truly consider the contingencies of an ocean swim. Thus, even if a course is less challenging in terms of distances it may be very difficult and less suitable for a true beginner based on the course logistics.
2016-10-18 1:53 PM
in reply to: LundyLund

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
Originally posted by LundyLund

If you were to look at a race without taking into account the beginner's background or ability, I'd think you would want: a) a swim that is not crowded, and with calm water, b) a bike course that is not crowded, with little or no turnarounds, and c) a run that is relatively flat with at least two aid stations. And, as a bonus, the race would have lots of fan support/music/etc.




This. Even better if the swim is in a man-made lake/quarry since there can be little to no swells and/or it's not too deep.
2016-10-18 2:37 PM
in reply to: onefinwonder

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon

Originally posted by onefinwonder Thank you for your responses. The first time I fell off the bike was after a steep descent into a sharp right turn. The second time was at a dismount line at the bottom of a steep hill where I could not unclip fast enough. Perhaps I was not clear enough but my ultimate point is a truly novice athlete may not have the wherewithal to preview the course by driving it or truly consider the contingencies of an ocean swim. Thus, even if a course is less challenging in terms of distances it may be very difficult and less suitable for a true beginner based on the course logistics.

Well you're not that inexperienced then.  I've had problems dismounting at the line what with tired legs and all.  And I once fell over because I was climbing a steep, switch-backed road and took the inside line which was stupid steep.  I couldn't unclip in time after reaching 0 mph. :-)

I agree with your points about logistics, complexity, and "true beginners".  Ocean swim?  Not for "true beginners", nor are some of the complex urban courses.  I've seen "try a tri" sprint distance triathlons with calm lake swims, the bike as loop course on closed country roads, and the run on a pave trail.  That's beginner friendly.

2016-10-18 3:19 PM
in reply to: onefinwonder

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
I would recommend a pool swim for first timers if possible.

As for the bike. Most races are going to include some hills in the race unless it is in an area without hills.

A flat run course would be good for first timers.

I raced for seven years and usually try to ride the bike course a couple of weeks ahead of race if possible. This gives me an idea on how to hit the hills and handle the turns. If this is not possible, you may check the race reviews on this website. It may be possible that someone did a race review on the race you are signing up for. A lot of good information in the race reviews.

Don't worry about falling off the bike at dismount. Happens to the best of us. I usually slip out of my shoes or unclip a few hundred feet from stop.

Good luck on your next race.
2016-10-18 5:30 PM
in reply to: onefinwonder


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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon

There are "indoor triathlon" series, which in my opinion are the best for pure rookie triathletes, especially for the ones where the swim is an extremely daunting proposition.

 

Here are 2 separate series that are both well run - if you're lucky you'll have one in your area

http://indoortriathlonusa.com/

http://www.indoortri.com/

 

They have pool swims that are usually underweighted relative to the bike/run so even if you're a horrendous swimmer you won't affect your final result too much, bike is on a trainer so no bike handling problems, and the run is in an enclosed area. 

 

They're different than typical tris, in that usually its fixed time per swim/bike/run legs, so everyone finishes at the same time (they do multiple waves.)

 

Give it a go - even if you're completely green on the swim or bike, it's still a lot of fun. 



2016-10-18 6:18 PM
in reply to: yazmaster

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
I agree. I did a women's sprint, advertised as a great race for newbies. I was looking forward to the flat run. It may have been "flat" if looking at overall rise, but there were very short, but very steep inclines. Lots of women just gave up and were walking and it felt like they weren't going to pick it up again. I was OK, but did feel that the organizers were either dishonest or had not walked/run through the course themselves.

and I agree about OWS. I stick with lake swims.
2016-10-20 12:31 PM
in reply to: onefinwonder

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon

Originally posted by onefinwonder Thank you for your responses. The first time I fell off the bike was after a steep descent into a sharp right turn. The second time was at a dismount line at the bottom of a steep hill where I could not unclip fast enough. Perhaps I was not clear enough but my ultimate point is a truly novice athlete may not have the wherewithal to preview the course by driving it or truly consider the contingencies of an ocean swim. Thus, even if a course is less challenging in terms of distances it may be very difficult and less suitable for a true beginner based on the course logistics.

"Beginners" are the ones who show up at the race with an old mountain bike, beach cruiser, or 10 speed and tennis shoes...   They may still fall over, especially once they "graduate" from "beginner" status and start using fancy gear like clipless pedals.  (I know...I have...)

For me, an ideal "beginner triathlon" has enough room for inexperienced athletes to still be comfortable swimming, biking, and running and a Race Director who can limit the number of people in any "beginner wave" or even the AG waves to encourage beginners to participate.  An added touch is for the RD or local club to provide some on-site clinic/coaching for first timers to have a race strategy that makes them want to come back for a second, third, or 10th race. 

2016-10-21 12:19 PM
in reply to: #5202298

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
Local college here puts on a small tri. There were like 15 people signed up. It was pretty beginner friendly. Swim was a pool swim.
2016-10-22 8:14 AM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
Disagree about ocean swimming being unsuitable for beginners. My first several tris were ocean swims. In some cases, a calm, warm ocean is easier than a cold, choppy lake. There is a popular series in Singapore (Metasport Sprint Series) with very beginner friendly ocean swims. The aquathlon event in particular is usually held in a sheltered cove (Sentosa) and essentially is like a saltwater pool swim--up a wide "lane", around a buoy, back, repeat. I have done pool practices that were rougher! Start waves are kept small, run and bike are flat with a lot of safety support, and while conditions do vary at the tri, which is in more exposed water, most years the swim would still be well within the comfort level of beginners who can handle the distance in a busy lap pool. Several friends who were true beginners and less confident swimmers have done those events with no problems.

OTOH I have also done pretty rough ocean swims where I was not very comfortable with the conditions, and I'm a strong swimmer with plenty of OWS experience. In some races the ocean has been absolutely flat one year and nasty the next, and vice versa. It depends on the location, timing, and weather/surf conditions. It pays to have some degree of familiarity with the conditions, and talk with others who have raced previously before contemplating signing up for a race with an ocean swim, especially as a beginner.


Edited by Hot Runner 2016-10-22 8:16 AM
2016-10-25 9:28 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Ideal Beginner Triathlon
Originally posted by McFuzz

"Beginners" are the ones who show up at the race with an old mountain bike, beach cruiser, or 10 speed and tennis shoes...   They may still fall over, especially once they "graduate" from "beginner" status and start using fancy gear like clipless pedals.  (I know...I have...)...




Back in October 2013, 2 months after I acquired my MTB, I joined a relay Sprint Tri Race - and I was very eager to volunteer for the bike segment. I learned the hard way that an MTB is no match for a Road Bike especially if the RB rider was experienced and the MTB rider was a two-month noob, Me.

Edited by Nightbird95 2016-10-25 9:29 PM


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