Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thank you USA Triathlon!

I joined USAT last year because I saved $1 over the course of last year. I paid $39 for the annual fee because I had planned to do 4 triathlons, and a day pass for the cost of $10 per day is required to race in a sanctioned triathlon. It also gave the me freedom to "impulse" enter additional races, which I ended up not doing. I follow USAT on Facebook, and noticed that they had a contest to win a bike rack from Rola to the USAT member (# required on the entry) for the best/worst bike road trip story.

Here is my entry:
I would love to win a Rola bike rack for my car, a Mazda6 hatchback. These photos are of my mountain bike, but every Wed this past summer, I would have to do the same thing to my road bike when I would drive from Novi, MI to Brighton, MI, to train with Triathletes In Action for the group swim, ride, and run workouts (we do all three on Weds). I need to remove both the front and rear wheels of my bike to get it to fit in the "hatch". There is not a safe route to ride to the workouts, and it would still leave me with the issue of having my bike secure while I swim or run. It adds to my transition time on the group workouts, as most of the other athletes either have bike racks or vehicles large enough to stow their bikes entirely assembled. I get dirty having to fuss with the chain, and also (when mountain biking especially) get the interior of my "hatch" quite dirty from having to carry it inside. I really need a reliable rack system for my car, and I have had trouble finding something to work with it! I would love to win a Rola rack to help keep me cleaner and keep my teammates from having to wait for me to get my bike situated before we can start our run!
I also included the following pictures (of my mountain bike, not road bike)

Can you imagine my amazement when I actually won! I was very surprised, but then I started to wonder how many USAT members are there that have such issues with bike transportation. Triathlons are a pretty expensive sport, and if you are going to do at least 4 a year to make it worthwhile to be a member, you probably have your bike transportation issues down. I do have friends who have had problems getting lots of bikes to out of town races, so perhaps the other winner(s) were in that category, which was sort of the idea of the contest anyway. I was notified back in Dec that I had won, and my new rack came this past week. Yeah! It came in a huge cardboard shipping box from Cequent Performance Products that contained a much smaller box (pictured at top).

It said it assembled in 10 minutes, and even though I can tell you how to assemble the brake system for just about any Ford van, I was a bit worried when none of the parts were labeled, nor was there a list of tools required. A quick call to tech support (which was just down the road from me in Plymouth, MI) confirmed my assumption as far as the top vs the bottom supports, and it went together very easily, and installed to the car just about as easily.

It isn't a perfect fit, the hatchback caused me to need to swap the side straps for the top straps for the sake of the photo, but I plan to get some longer webbing to extend the top straps before spring. I was just very happy that it cleared my spoiler, which had been the holdup with other brands of racks (Yakima doesn't make one that fits, nor Thule, and the Saris one that said it would fit was questionable once I saw a photo). I can't wait for the snow to melt and the weather to warm up so I can get myself (and my bike) out for a ride!


PS: My weekend run went much better this past weekend. It was MUCH colder, and we had snow on the ground. At least this time I checked the weather, and was ready for it. I was actually a bit warm running with the wind, but chilly into it. Valerie and I did an easy 10 in the neighborhood. We didn't want to take our chances driving to Kensington and having the path not cleared yet when we knew that the major streets where we lived were OK. We ended up doing a lot of back and forth on the same roads to avoid running in slippery snow that was very similar to running in sand. It wasn't deep, but just enough to absorb a lot of force and work the calves and ankles extra. We only did 2-3 miles in snow, and the rest was clear/wet slush.

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