Biking Behaviour (part 23) – The Triathlete

I could very easily use this piece for a few cheap laughs about triathletes and their habits and shortcomings on the bike. I’d like to think I’m above such lazy hatchet jobs (though the jury is out).

So, I’ll avoid passing comment on their bike handling skills, choice of clothing, and weird desire to bookend every bike ride with a swim and a run. There’ll be no mention of sleeveless cycling jerseys, Speedo’s, or riding without wearing socks. I will not, whatever the provocation from my fellow road cyclists, make fun of anyone who feels the need to call themselves an ‘ironman’.

In many ways cyclists and triathletes are very similar. Depending on who you ask, athletically speaking a triathlete equals approximately a third of a cyclist, or a cyclist equals approximately a third of a triathlete. Either way (the correct way, or the wrong way) we have things in common.

Having said that, if you were presented with a police line-up containing nine semi-serious cyclists and a single triathlete, and were asked to pick out the one who likes swimming and running, there are always tell-tale signs. Quite which cryptic crime has just taken place that requires you to identify a triathlete amongst a bunch of cyclists is another question.

A fashion crime, perhaps?

The Triathlete
The Triathlete (Image:

Ultimately the combination of St. Trinians style knee-socks and muscles on the arms and shoulders is always a dead giveaway. We cyclists may well be happy to consider ourselves among the fittest and toughest endurance athletes, but ask us to lift a heavy box or take the lid off a jar of particularly persistent mayonnaise, and you’ll find yourself in for a long wait.

There is another reason why I am avoiding tarring my triathlete friends with the comedy brush.

I ride locally from time to time with two or three of them. They usually turn up dripping with water, and I presume they pop out for a run afterwards, but I’m always back home nursing a cup of tea by that point. The thing about these two or three triathletes is they are all capable of giving me a good hiding on the bike. In terms of writing a mocking blog post, that’s a bit of a deal breaker.

I can’t very well tear into them with my rapier wit if, in return, they will simply reduce me to a gibbering wreck the next time the road heads upwards, can I?

So, in summary, I have nothing but the utmost respect for triathletes, whilst simultaneously agreeing to differ on their clothing choices. Once I’ve got myself in decent shape and am able to go pedal stroke to pedal stroke with them on my local roads, I may revise this viewpoint.

Until then…



  1. Incidentally I was training for a half iron-man a few years ago, I was at the local pool doing a long swim but can hold a decent pace, a triathlete was there, telling everyone in the vicinity about his training who was thrashing 50mtrs sprints. . His.sprint pace was only marginally quicker than my pace but he was the most inconsiderate fool I’ve ever met in a pool.. I ducked out of the triathlon after that..narrow minded maybe but it’s clouded my opinion of them as a species

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay I’m going in . . . I cannot stand tri-bikes, clothing, helmets, or the overall attitude. Wildly guessing, I bet 95% of people riding tri-bikes never have accomplished ONE triathlon! It is absolutely absurd how many people who purchase a tri-bike as their first bike; then they form big group rides of like-minded people and draft around in big herds! Like you, Ragtime, I have respect for true triathletes, but where I ride there maaaaaybe one in the whole bunch of idiots who clog the roads with their squirrely twitching non-line-holding selves, sleeveless jerseys (or skin suits), and drop-down visored helmets! Wheeeeew . . . thank you for that relief, Ragtime.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All these specific tri things (clothing, equipment, …) have a purpose. To you, they may seems funny, strange looking, ugly even, but try competing in just one tri event, sprint at least, and you will immediately see the benefits. Just my 2 cents.


      • No, of course not. But a tri specific suit in which you can swim, bike and run, will save you a whole lot of time.


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