I’m not sure who first decided that carting all your kit around in a box was de rigueur for triathletes, but balancing a foot-square rigid cube on top of an inch-wide circular tube, while it’s moving, is a catastrophically inefficient means of transportation.
And I take perverse pleasure in watching people’s tempers flare as their bikes slide away from beneath their grip, cracking them meatily on the shin, or hearing the lavish swearing as the box tips over scattering their kit like a cluster bomb.
These days I avoid this humiliation by keeping my kit in a contraption known as ‘a bag’, which can be slung over one’s shoulder, and which also enables me to ride my bike right up the transition entrance rather than walk, making me look experienced, manly and slightly sexy.
I discovered this solution after trying the old box routine and realising that you need to be a juggler to keep bike and box upright, and that I was making slower progress across the car park than a sloth with a club foot.
While watching people engaged in their bike/box deathmatch it does occur to me to say ‘Have you considered using a bag?’ But doing so would spoil a lot of my fun, plus there’s a likelihood I’ll get a punch in the mouth for being a smug tosser.
I’m also wary of giving anyone anything that would constitute ‘advice’ because after 10 years of doing triathlons I’ve still won sod all and I’m afraid of unleashing the terrifying power of my black hole of anti-knowledge on unsuspecting novices.
Lately though I’ve started wondering whether there isn’t a niche market for the kind of ‘wisdom’ I’ve accumulated. This came to mind as I was reading Chris McCormack’s autobiography ‘I’m Here To Win’ in which he shares his ‘(w)insights’ into how to become a better triathlete.
Reading them, I realised they were largely ‘(w)useless’ for me, because I am ‘(w)crap’. I also realise that putting myself in the same company as Chris McCormack is a bit like saying I’m a pirate because I once kept a pedalo out for too long on a boating lake. But I reckon I can come up with a bunch of top tips. Behold…
- Need a better wetsuit but can’t afford one? No problem, simply work really hard on your running. That way you’ll finish races before others and will be back in transition to collect your kit before them, where, hey presto, you’ll have your pick of discarded wetsuits
- Never ever eat blackberries which grow by a gate near the start of a time-trial course – there’s only one way they’ll have been watered
- If you spot a triathlete who has pinned their number onto their tri-suit before putting it on, never tell them that their number will rip off and flap around, because a flapping number acts as a big ‘NOVICE’ identification flag and is a handy way to spot who to avoid while out on the bike
- Does your swim cap constantly work its way up your forehead until you look like a Smurf? Prevent this from happening by frowning and then using the ribbed rim of the swim cap to screw it onto your head. This does mean you need to retain the frown for the entire duration of the swim, but personally I’ve never found that a problem as it’s my default expression while being booted in the face
- Are you intimidated by athletes who are taller and more muscular than you? Avoid this feeling by wearing your helmet even when you don’t need to, which as well as making you look taller and more dynamic also covers the fact they’re healthier with lustrous hair, unlike yours which looks like a nest of damp straw
- If family members want to know when the tri season is due to finish, rather than be pressured into giving them a specific date after which you have to start spending time with them, merely suggest they keep a close eye on the bathroom plughole where the sudden absence of congealed leg hair will reveal the answer
- Are you worried what others might be up to in their wetsuits at swim starts? Find out who is befouling themselves by taking a gaboon viper into the water with you, which can use its ability to sense vibrations and smell via its tongue. They also tend to deter others from crowding you and can be used as a flotation device
- Buy a bag