by Vojta Lím
Nowadays, everybody is into carbon fibre, aero components with minimum air drag and other super high-tech equipment, which should cut off those decisive seconds from your race time . Group of guys from Plavsko decided to take quite different approach and organized a triathlon "Retro Style".
Plavsko is a picturesque village in southern Bohemia with a total of 472 inhabitants. This was already 15th edition of the race, 14 of which were normal competitions with no special rules. During the last couple of years, racers at this triathlon started to get all fancy by wearing swim caps, swim goggles and some even dared to use triathlon suits. Organizers wanted to put a stop to such manners and thus announced retro race this time.
It was my 3rd year at this race. I love it. Its hilly, thru very nice landscape and ends up in the pub. Also, it is one of the few races in the season, where I can actually compete for the first position. What else can you ask for? The task for this year seemed simple. Show up with a bike, which is old and has just one gear. I took my single speed bike from the 80s (in the gallery at the bottom) in naive hope that this would be old enough and other racers will have similar stuff. Little that I know, how dedicated are these Plavsko guys. My bike was around 30 years newer and much fancier than anything else in the improvised transition area. It was immediately labelled as inadequate and I fell in despair that I had spent one year of serious preparation in vain. Luckily, the locals were flexible enough to offer me a unique piece of bike, which originally served as a spare unit if any of the others wouldn't make it to the finish line. It was 16 kilo of solid metal from USSR - Ukraine (back then you could buy for 260 Kcs). Front tyre looked like it received some pretty rough treatment over the years, however, I was very happy to be able to race.
I didn't spend too much time checking rideability of the bike, I rested it against parked truck and headed towards the lake for the first part of the race. Organizers felt that explanation of race details would just decrease adventure aspect of the race so we jumped straight to the water and off we go. As usual, I was lazily swimming in a drag of someone else just to secure good position for the bike stage. 500m was fast gone and I found myself racing this 60 years old Ukrainian beast. I became little concerned that the bike would lose some of the vital components and I would end up face-planting local roads. Very soon I realized, that rear basket was not originally meant to hold water bottle, so I was forced to stick the bottle in my "speedos" (see the gallery, if you're brave enough:).
During the race I developed very specific technique, which helped me to get the most performance out of the vehicle. It felt a bit like "when you rob a bank and have to escape in no time." I would always spin the pedals up to 3000 rounds per minute, right to the point I was about to lose both of my limbs and then I would go straight to the most aero position to maintain that 26km/h speed for as long as humanly possible. I was staying in the leading group of four guys, thinking about the best place for my planned escape. This happened around 10 km before the end of the bike section. I put all my energy into those rusty cranks, bike luckily kept in one piece and soon my opponents were nowhere to be seen.
After 30 km on the bike and the fastest transition in the history of triathlon, (I literally just threw the bike away and went straight to the run, dropping my helmet few metres after), I worked my way to usual running race pace and made sure nobody was close enough to start thinking about chasing me. My finish time was around 5 minutes slower than my road-bike time from the last year, which made me contemplate about carbon fibre and related materials for a few minutes.
Bottom line, if you don't have the $$$ for 6 kilo road bike, go to the nearest wastebusters, find the most aerodynamic Ukrainian bike and I see you next year in Plavsko.
Have you ever tried similar stuff??? (leave your thoughts in the comments, cheers).