I’ve had this conversation three times in the last few months, who is the most friendliest out of Triathlete’s and Cyclists? Over the last few months I’ve also been discussing with friends the accessibility of cycling and triathlon; basically trying to decide which one has the least barriers to encourage participation.
I’m going to jump right in and say Triathlon is the most friendly sport out of the two, mostly because I find the sport so much less intimidating than I do cycling. I find cycling to be so intimidating, that’s right, me finds it intimidating. But let’s be clear and straight up, that when I mean Cycling and Triathlon I do mean racing; I’m not referring to the social side of it.
Triathlon is a sport that although you need a car load of stuff to do it, the likely hood is that you’ve got most of the stuff and you might just need to buy your entry fee. Or you can borrow a bike from a friend or a neighbor or even a work mate. What’s cool about triathlon is there appears to be all sorts of people having a go; tall people, short people, fat people, not-so-fat people, former fat people, former smokers and life changers.
The reasons why Triathlon it isn’t accessible:
- Um well it is, you can by a day license with Triathlon Australia every single time you compete
- Alright, fine, entry fee’s aren’t that cheap… between $50.00 to $1000.00 but that’s $50.00 for a sprint (little one) with the roads closed and $1000.00 for an Ironman, we’re talking full road closures for the entire event
- But still you don’t have to buy a full licence… not ever
Cycling on the other hand is a bit different, you’ve got to have the right bike to start racing and I don’t mean bling bikes, I mean you’ve got to have a drop bar road bike. Which I totally understand for racing purposes as it would be too dangerous to ride with so many different bikes. So sure, most people start out doing Grand Fondo’s and Sportiff’s before they take the next step up to cycle racing.
But it’s not just the bike that’s a hurdle, when you go to race in certain states of Australia you’ve got to either wear club kit or you’ve got to wear plain kit with minimal advertising, now I was thinking about this the other day and sure I get it and understand why, but… imagine rocking up for the lower levels, for say Women’s C and D grade where the number are low and not even knowing about the rule.
Say this next part in one breath, really fast, it might take a few goes, but you can do it.
Not only are you scared shitless about doing your first race but you’re now also intimidated because you don’t have the right kit and you wore your GreenEdge kit because you want to support them and had no idea because the rule isn’t written anywhere especially not on the advertising for the race or the club website or the facebook page and it’s not even easy to find on the Cycling Australia Website…
The rule exists, trust me, I’m the person who reads the product disclosure on credit card statements.
I also know that clubs who put on the races are discrete about it and will let it go the first few times, which is great, but do you know how much it costs to race your bike?
There is a reason why it isn’t accessible:
- Elite Race License $339.87 (depends on the club, some are a bit cheaper or more expensive)
- Masters $259.20 (over 30 for women and over 35 for men)
- 3 Ride Temporary Membership $44.00 (only one per person – if you want to continue you have to pay for a full license and they will take the $44.00 of the license fee)
- Racing Day Membership $33.00 (but I can’t find out if you can only have one or if you can keep buying them – we can agree this isn’t cost-effective)
- Add the cost of the club kit on there which will say $180.00 for this example and you’re starting to think how can I afford the $20.00 entry…
I don’t think Cycling Australia even has a link on their website called, “Your first race… things you should know.” I looked. I didn’t look hard, but to me it should be easy to find and easy to read and well… easy. I also looked on Cycling WA’s page and they’re essentially the same, the rules about the clothing is abundantly clear but essentially there isn’t anything there helping you get to your first race apart from a bunch of links to click and email address.
Let’s be honest, how many times have you shy’d away from sending an email cause you were too afraid to ask? Or you didn’t know how to word it? Or you send an email and you never get a reply.
So I went over to Triathlon Australia’s website to have a look to see if they have anything to help you get started for your first Triathlon.
Under the Get Involved Tab, you can choose What is Triathlon? The Triathlon Pathway, Triathlon Clubs. There are a total of 10 options including the ones I mentioned and guess what? A training program for your first triathlon, it doesn’t get easier than that, but how do you train for you first criterium?
A few minor changes please…
- That rule about kit shouldn’t apply to the two lowest grades for each gender and it should be written clearly on the Cycling Australia and into it’s charter or rule book or whatever it’s thing is.
- There should be details on the Cycling Australia webpage about what you should know or have heading into your first race. How many people know that you shouldn’t be carrying a saddle bag or lights when you do a criterium?
- There should be a meeting place for newbies heading into their first crit with an experienced rider who can answer questions about how long the race goes for and what happens when the bell rings.
- Remember what it was like to show up to a new job or the first day of school or the first day of uni? At least there you probably had an induction and got shown around, unless you know someone there’s no way you’re getting a guided tour of the crit circuit.
- Prepare for a triathlon and someone is probably advertising a free session with a pro where they will show you around the course and tell you where all the exits are, I did my first transition tour with Chris Macca McCormack how cool is that!
- Because someone who likes to be informed will come along and read the entire website, find that they don’t have the right stuff, not be aware that the club has discretion and they won’t race.
I love cycling, totally love it, think it’s the best thing in the world but I can see the issues that women AND men would face heading into their first race; mostly because I’ve experienced all those things above.
Communication is the foundation of any successful organisation and to inform one’s current and future members, will empower them to be at the start line. I believe in the constant improvement of myself, which is part of the reason why I also believe that an organisation should constantly be improving, progressing and evolving. Too often we stand aside and avoid change because someone says no to the bright spark that just rocked up, why not harness the spark’s idea’s and find a way to make it happen; they’re obviously keen and believe. Truth is, other people will succeed where you will not, they will know something different and have experienced different things which will make them more successful than you.
Did I spell Triathlete’s wrong on the first paragraph or does spell check not know they exist?