In his memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami focuses on the physical and mental transformation he underwent when transitioning from a smoking, drinking jazz bar owner to an ultramarathon runner. Beginning at age 33, he gradually went…
On March 31, 2011, I completed the LeadmanTri Epic 125 Las Vegas in a time of 6 hours 39 minutes. In Part I of this race analysis, I’ll go over my motivations for doing and my highlights from the race.
If you don’t know, the LeadmanTri Epic 125 is a triathlon consisting of a 2.5 km swim, 109.5 km bike, and 13 km run. I had first heard about the race from Slowtwitch in 2011. At that time, however, the race distance was 250k, and I was in no shape or condition to even attempt to finish that distance, let alone compete. I quickly locked that thought away somewhere at the back of my mind without thinking that I’d come back to revisit the possibility of doing that race.
As it turned out, I saw Jordan Rapp’s video and Dan Empfield’s write-up about the race this year and it really piqued my interest. Ultimately, it was the shortened distance, the flurry of discussion on the Slowtwitch forum, and the accompanying race discounts that led to me registering for the event 3 weeks before March 31, 2011.
My motivations for doing the race are as follows:
It was cheap. The registration fee was $225, which is cheaper than any WTC 70.3, plus I had a 50 percent discount coupon. This meant that I only had to fork out $112.50 to participate in an event that was longer than a 70.3.
The swim course took place in Lake Mead. I have never been to Lake Mead, but have heard of it, and when I read that the water in Lake Mead is super clear, I seriously considered signing up for the race. I am really particular about the visibility and water quality of the swim portion in a triathlon, especially after my experience swimming in Utah Lake during the 2006 Provo Triathlon and 2008 Utah Half. Any time there’s a clean and clear open-water swim, I’ll jump at a chance to race even if the bike and run course are super hard.
The scenic bike and run course. I had heard about how scenic the bike and run course is from the Slowtwitch forum and saw the video that Rapp posted, and was convinced that I ought to see it for myself.
2012 is the second year that they are organizing the event. I’m a huge fan of supporting start-ups and brand-new events-I did the inaugural Ironman St. George in 2010, the inaugural Provo Triathlon in 2006, and the inaugural Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Race in 2011. I feel that there’s something special about being a part of an event that’s taking place for the first time. It’s risky but exciting. And at these relatively newer events, they’re going all out to make the event a success, and I really appreciate that.
I wanted to get the bike and run miles in for Wildflower in May.
The race was on a Saturday. What can I say, I’m Holyman, and I try to keep the Sabbath holy.
My longest bike ride prior to registering was only 40 miles and I knew that it was crucial for me to focus on the bike, so besides my usual schedule of swimming 2000-2500 yards with my Masters workouts three times a week and running 8-11 miles twice a week, I scheduled a long ride on Saturdays, with the longest ride at 2 weeks before the race-along Skyline Boulevard from San Jose to Aquatic Park in San Francisco. That ride was painful because of the wind and the rain, and it really tested my determination-it took me about 6 hours 30 minutes to bike the 70+ miles from San Jose to Aquatic Park, but I was ready to toss in the towel at about 4 hours. Nonetheless, I completed that ride and added it to my quiver of arrows for Leadman.
Due to work commitments, I was only able to drive out to Henderson, NV on March 30 to pick up my race packet and attend the athlete briefing. Registration and packet pickup occurred without a hitch, and I had a really satisfying pre-race dinner at Ross J’s Aloha Grill.
If you’ve been following the LeadmanTri Epic series, you’ve probably had a chance to read a few race reports. If not, you can read some of the pros’ race reports, like Jordan Rapp, Thomas Gerlach, and Hillary Biscay, and the age-groupers’ race reports, like Chris Eaves and Anthony Ripamonti. Chris also has a bunch of links to other race reports by age-groupers and pros.
Given the number of available race reports, I’m not going to report on my race per se; rather, I’ll highlight the things that stood out to me.
The water was as clean and clear as I’d imagined it to be. Actually, it was clearer than I had imagined, as I haven’t swam in any clear freshwater lakes before. It was so clear that I could see the very bottom of the lake when it was 10-15 feet deep.
I had my own personal neoprene changing mat. Even though most transition areas have astroturf or felt carpets, Life Time Fitness took it a step further and supplied each competitor with their own neoprene changing mat.
Parking was right next to the transition area. I could drive to the transition area, find a parking spot, and walk my bike 300 feet to the transition area. No more racking bikes the day before, no need for security, and no need to wait for shuttles.
The bike course was EPIC. I have to chime in on this one, even though everyone has expressed an opinion about it. Yes, the bike course was tough, because of the terrain and the wind, but it certainly added to the epic element of the race. There were a lot of spots where I had to break out of aero because I wasn’t confident of handling my bike in the aerobars, and there were a few spots where I thought I would crash because the gusts were so strong. I definitely flirted with the line between dangerous and challenging during the bike ride.
The bike aid stations were only stocked with water and Heed. I had only packed a Nutella and banana sandwich with me for the ride and had hoped to pick up some Hammer gel during the bike, but was told at every bike aid station that they did not have gel. So, I essentially subsisted on whatever calories I had in my sandwich, Heed, and a Gu that a fellow competitor had tossed to me. Thank goodness for that huge plate of loco moco at Ross J’s.
I loved that the run course was uphill. It’s kinder to your knees and quads, which is especially helpful to those who suffer from knee or IT band issues.
In summary, it’s a race that I would highly recommend. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it’s doable. The intensity feels like an Ironman race-even though it only took me 6+ hours to finish the race, it felt harder and longer than the 14+ hours I took to finish Ironman St. George, especially the last 15 miles of the bike. Bahram Akradi, Daniel Brienza, and Race Director Keith Hughes did an amazing job of creating an event and series that has the potential to challenge and even disrupt WTC’s position.
In Part II, I analyze the economics and strategy of the LeadmanTri Epic series and how it can be a disruptive innovation to the WTC.
Can Prizes Spur Innovation?
“…incentive prizes can spur innovation in cost-effective ways…Another feature of well-designed incentive prizes is that they can attract enough investment and invention to create entirely new industries.”
For a great history of the innovation prize and where it stands today, read the entire guest blog by Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran here on Freakonomics.
For more on this book about the new rules of innovation, check out this audio interview with Vaitheeswaran on The Economist.
A question worth pondering — definitely click through and read the full Freakonomics post.
Are the Japanese still winning when it comes to bicycle innovation? More thoughts on this to follow.
Is this the beginning of a manufacturing shift from China to India?
How Cervelo combined business model and product innovation to develop the R5ca, as featured in an article in Composites World, a trade publication.
A few days ago, I wrote a post about Colnago’s C59 Disc and Volagi’s Liscio and ended my post asking how bicycle, wheel, and component manufacturers would respond to the C59 Disc and the Liscio.
Well, my question was answered when Bike Radar published an article by Matt Pacocha on TRP’s Hywire Road Disc Brake System. Based on the limited amount of information that is available online, the Hywire is a road disc brake system which integrates with the original Dura Ace and the new Ultegra Di2. Bike Radar’s article provides more specific information about the Hywire, so I won’t go into any details, but it appears that component manufacturers like Avid, Formula, and TRP are leading the charge towards disc brake-equipped road bikes, along with bicycle manufacturing companies like Volagi, Colnago,and Stevens.
The latter is a German company which has seen a lot of success on its cyclocross bikes and it first featured disc brakes on a cyclocross bike in 2010. Hence, it seemed like a natural progression for the company to introduce a road bike with disc brakes.
Nonetheless, I don’t think that the major bicycle manufacturers like Trek and Specialized are going to offer disc brake-equipped road bikes in 2012 or 2013, as the UCI currently does not allow disc brakes in its road races. However, I will not be surprised to see more smaller bicycle manufacturing companies introduce disc brake-equipped road bikes as the number of ultra endurance and gran fondo riders increase. And if the technology rises to meet the UCI’s standards, I think that it will only be a matter of time before we see disc brakes in some of the major road cycling races.
Ever wondered about the origins of some iconic brand names? Click on the images above to find out how these companies got their names.
I want to begin my post by first talking about the Colnago C59.
The Colnago C59 was first unveiled in March 2010. Not only was it light (frame weight is approximately 1000g), it was also stiff where it mattered. The C59 could perform double-duty for the sprints, as well as for the climbs. Hence, my interest was piqued when Bike Radar broke the news that Colnago had launched their first disc brake-equipped road bike called the C59 Disc.
While the C59 Disc has received a lot of attention from the press, many have forgotten that a small fledgling company called Volagi, based in Cotati, California, had already spec-ed disc brakes on a high-end performance carbon bike, the Liscio. I first heard about the Liscio from Volagi’s much-publicized trial with Specialized Bicycles, but I was more intrigued by the disc brakes (and the LongBow Flex stays) on the Liscio. While disc brakes have been around the cycling world for a while now (see this article written by James Huang and Matt Pacocha), it was only in September 2010, that the Liscio, the first “high performance carbon road bike with disk brakes”, made its debut.
Volagi had a significant first-mover advantage when it released the Liscio. While all the other major bike companies were keeping their cards close to their chest, Volagi took the risks of designing, manufacturing, and selling a product that had not been mass-produced before, and prayed that their product would catch on. In doing so, they acquired significant know-how relating to the design and manufacture of disc brake-equipped road bikes. Designing and manufacturing a disc brake-equipped road bike isn’t as simple as “slapping on disc brakes”, there is a lot of testing and calibration of the frame and components to ensure that you don’t perform an endo when pulling on the brakes. In addition, you don’t want to haul an otherwise 16 lb carbon bike with 2 lbs of disc brake components. In the process, they also collaborated with Avid and Tektro.
While I haven’t ridden the Liscio or the C59 Disc, I wonder if the C59 Disc offers a better ride and braking experience than the Liscio, given the significant resources that Colnago has at its disposal. Granted, the Liscio is aimed at the ultra endurance cyclist, while the C59 Disc is aimed at the…well, I don’t know who Colnago’s target customer is, but the C59 line is Colnago’s flagship line, and I would expect some competitive dynamics, especially if Colnago markets the C59 Disc towards the ultra endurance cyclists and prices it competitively.
Now that Colnago has responded to Volagi with their C59 Disc, what is Volagi going to do? I certainly don’t expect them to sue Colnago for patent infringement (sorry, I couldn’t resist), but I’d like to know how they will respond as the C59 Disc certainly represents a credible threat to their position in the market segment for disc brake-equipped road bikes. I’m also interested in learning how the other bike manufacturers, like Trek and Specialized, wheel manufacturers, and component manufacturers are going to respond.
This may just be the genesis of an entirely new product category.
Note: As of today, I’ve also learned that Volagi is planning to debut the TRP Parabox (hydraulic disc brakes) and Di2 on their Liscio at Interbike in 2012.