Last night was the kickoff of the newbie program for the Chicago Tri Club. With the melting snow, perhaps there is some hope that tri season is around the corner. And clinic #1 was a meet-n-greet (free pizza and beer) at Get a Grip Cycles on Irving Park. The club actually has an entire--impressive--calendar of newbie activities. Including a training schedule/group leading up to the race that I chose as my first last year. There are open water swim clinics, wetsuit try-ons, intro to bike maintenance/gearing, threshold testing, pool clinics, run form analysis. Basically, the program leaders are trying to emphasize that your membership gets you far more in return than you pay to join. So far, I'd say that is accurate. In my couple of events with the group, I can't believe the amount of discounts, sponsors, and expert advice you have access to.
This first clinic last night was a very basic explanation of what services the store offers and what a bike fit is. By the way, the staff at Get a Grip explained themselves well, seemed genuinely helpful, and was approachable. Well done. They took us through the process of getting on the measurement bike which can be adjusted by pedal, seat, handlebars, etc. to get precise measurements for how to ride your best. There are cameras, a power meter, an off-bike flexibility test involved. They're known for giving some of the best bike service in Chicago and I can see why.
I also got a chance to admire all the high-end bikes. But for all the $10,000 Cervelos in the room, they were refreshingly down to earth about hybrids, getting started in clipless pedals and not intimidating at all. It's the kind of attitude I really like to see towards novices (as I've written about here before). I think the more helpful and enthusiastic that veterans can be about newcomers, the more likely you are to have people come back a second, third, or forever time.
Lately, as I've been struggling to decide what my short term triathlon goals are before--eventually--an Ironman, I've been having to find the mojo to do some short term races that, for me personally, may not be the "thing" that is keeping me motivated to stay in the sport. Versus, say, just running and riding for fun. Why race? The answer should be because it's fun and you like to push yourself.
Listening to a few REALLY new triathletes last night was fun. Their questions were my questions last year at this time. Coming from that place, it's interesting to know now why I was getting the sometimes confusing information I was getting. It all makes sense in hindsight. It's an overwhelming sport, at first, they got that absolutely right during the discussion. But I think one of the things I love about triathlon and triathletes was also on display last night. No hesitation. Most people would at least stop and have a long pause before undertaking some of what we do. (Not that triathletes don't do plenty of thinking later.) But triathletes feel free to pepper a veteran with questions. We ask each other deeply personal questions. We share deeply personal information. Then again, we tend to throw ourselves at our events with than kind of abandon, too.
Afterall, this is a sport where we do something called a "brick" because riding a bike 50 miles isn't enough...we want to get in a run afterwards. Triathletes, generally, aren't timid.