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Ironman UK - bike choice

Hi All,
Just a quick question. I've got my entry for Ironman UK in early and preparing for next season now.

I haven't done any Ironman events before (next season will actually be my first in triathlon after coming over from cycling). Had a look at the profile for the bike leg and it looks relatively hilly - undulating.

If any of you have completed this race, do you know if it's worth using a TT bike with so much undulation or whether a road bike would be best? I'm aiming for a sub 11 hour time.




  • It depends... have you got both ?

    Have you ridden a TT bike before ?

    suib 11 is pretty quick - what other races have you raced ? what bike did you use ?

    What split time are you hoping for ?

    there are many deciding factors... i know people that have done IMUK and some of them used a road bike and some a TT. If it was me I'd go TT but having never done an IM Im probably not the right person to ask.

    What are you most comfortable on , safest on and fastest on ? decide that then there is your answer
  • Rich I have not done the event but the course is pretty local to me and I know it well and was on the main climb this year as a spectator.

    I guess it comes down to how strong you are on the bike. I wouldn't describe the course as undulating but rather a series of longish drags when the gradient goes up with the three climbs up Sheephouse Lane to negotiate. As a cyclist I would not describe Sheephouse Lane as being too difficult if you have a wide block, it is pretty steady and crowded on the second and third laps. The secret is pacing your effort up it.

    Where I think time gains can be really made and what seperates good from average bike riders on this course are two areas. Firstly the ability to hold an aero position on shallow uphill gradients for a few kilometers and keeping the power on and a gear moving and secondly the ability to descend at speed off the top of the main climb. The start of the course is a long drag up to the main circuit, and the back of the main circuit though the easiest section can be a bit of work if there is a strong wind which normally comes off the Irish Sea from the SW with not much land mass in between. This year the weather was perfect and not really typical. If you can do both of these things on a TT bike then I would definatly go that way every time, it may be a case of being on the drops up the main climb but this is not that long a section of the course.

    If you struggle in keeping an aero position for long periods and are not confident of descending as fast as the road will allow driving a gear then go with a road bike. The road bike will not be quicker but you should make up 10 or 15 minutes or so on the run by being in better shape.

    Hope this helps a little, like I say I have not done the race but do understand the roads up here and as such what a steep gradient or average wind is to me and will not be the same for everybody. It will be interesting if people who have raced agree with me or not.
  • I did this race last year as my first IM distance race.
    I chose the TT bike and found it ok to be honest. A few people went past me on the main hill section on sheephouse lane on road bikes but then on the decent the other side I got straight past them and on the flatter sections.
    Coming from a cycling background for you I would say TT.

    Good luck with the training - it is a brilliant achievement when you finish and one ill remember for a long time, until the next IM anyway
  • GGBGGB Posts: 482
    As said above its down to you what tou are most comfotable on - I did IMUK in 2010 and did it on TT bike - its not that hilly and what you gain on the flatish sections IMO far out weighs what you might loose on the uphill. At the time I only had a cheap roadbike so my TT was easier for the hills anyway.
  • Thanks for the help guys - gives me something to think about.

    I don't currently have a TT bike, but have a reasonable carbon Trek madone road bike. Wondered whether it was worth getting hold of a TT bike early next year to get some practice in.

    Was hoping they were some significant hills on the bike course as I'm more of a climber, most of my advantage comes on the hills.

    Without these a TT might be quite useful as I'll need all the help I can get with speed on the flat/ descents.
  • JimbaJimba Posts: 15
    [quote="LancsRider"] The road bike will not be quicker but you should make up 10 or 15 minutes or so on the run by being in better shape.


    Not sure of the validity of this statement (but what do I know!!!)


    Seems to suggest the opposite (albeit on a 10k run)
  • I agree.

    It's deffo easier and better to run off a TT bike than a road bike.

    After dragging my son round the Cownan middle I can assure you I was semi crippled after using my road bike. Yes I know there are many variables not least getting a proper bike fit ( essential IMHO).

    It's all down to geometry.

    I'm definitely quicker over all distances on my TT bike even with training wheels - more so than my carbon road bike with 50mm carbon tubs.

    They are built specifically for that reason - to go fast.

  • I know what you are saying guys. The line I was kind of taking is if you are going to have limited experience on a TT set up, and over a long period 6 hours or so are going to be working hard in maintaining a position simply because you have not had the time to become fully acustomentd to this, then is it still faster?

    Watching riders come into T2 walking the last few miles alongside the race on the IronmanUK course last year the front of the pack came in pretty aero in the last few kilometers. Further down the field I did see quite a few individuals half crouched over thier bull bars looking pretty beat up by the course. The point I am making have these individuals made the right bike choice?

    There is a good reason you will hardly see a road bike at Kona, its the quality of the field. In a similar way if I was to give a £5000 TT bike to a 15hr first time age grouper then I suspect they would s**t themselves on it going around the Bolton course and waste massive amounts of nervous energy in doing so. There has to be a line where experience on the bike comes into play to make the decision to go TT worth it. Given the finishing time target of Rich is would think going TT is the best option for him, but he did not say if he owned a TT bike or if he had a lot of TT experience from his cycling background so I was trying to cover all bases to be honest.
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    All of the above; did the Outlaw 2010 on my newly built up Cervelo P2C, down on the bars most of it but on some descents played safe. Last 10k because I cocked my nutrition up was on the hoods for several K as my vision was blurring. This year had a proper bike fit, no probs going aero and hammered down those same descents because I was so confident with the bike and set up. Road bikes did pull back on me on climbs but on flats and particularly descents I had the definite edge.

    Be one with the bike.
  • QuitterQuitter Posts: 160
    LancsRider wrote:
    <Snip of lots of interesting stuff>
    Slight derail but a detailed reply as always....chapeau
  • Very interesting post from a selfish point!.

    I too have put my name down for IMUK 2012 (first IM distance) and have just purchased my first TT bike. I was querying the same thing, TT or road, but decided to bite the bullet and get a new bike. What I will say to’ richwestover’ is if you are going to get a TT bike get one sooner rather than later. They are completely different to ride and a bit ‘squeaky bum’ at first!

    Hopefully the confidence riding it will soon come!

    I also live fairly close to the course and the hills aren’t too daunting, only the top of the climb on Sheep House.
  • rkbrkb Posts: 1
    As a first timer last year on probably the worst road bike in the feild I would point out that the advantages of a road bike for the down hills are completly negated as so many people go down the hill and corner in general so slowly! At the bottom of the hill there is a no overtaking rule so you cant use your advantage on a road bike (and may not be safe to).

    Because of the length of the coarse I was sat for most of the climb so would suggest going for the TT. But - may be worth getting a bigger sproket set for the race.
  • As a first timer also for ironman uk 2013 I will be on a TT bike, I live on the loop course and ride it often. I probally gain 10-15 min advantage per loop on the TT over the road bike. A danish friend who won his age group last year at IMUK 2012 said get out on the TT as often as you gain and ride the training miles TT, also couldnt stress enough on spinning classes as much as your little legs could take.
  • hussler.hussler. Posts: 390
    I did IM UK in 2010 as my first IM on the TT, it's perfectly ok for a TT. Also point to note was that i rode the whole course with a snapped steerer that was only held on by the large spacer and how tight the stem was! I didn't realise it had snapped until I stripped it down after the race, clean crack right around the steerer apart from about 10mm..... Thought the steering was a little vague during the race!

    And to go sub 11 at your first IM, at UK too...... Unless your fast you should maybe have a rethink of that goal. Not saying its impossible.... I'm doing it again next year and hope to go sub 10:30, but that marathon bites you in the ar*e if your pacing isn't anything but spot on during the swim and bike.

    Sheep house lane is the main climb and its not that bad but come the third time up it, especially if you've been pushing hard the other two laps, it almost feels like you climbing Everest on a bike..... If you can get over to ride the course.
  • JannerJanner Posts: 4
    What about for IM Wales? I doubt il get to do anymore than drive around the course and maybe ride it once, so won't be able to compare it. Anyone got any insider knowledge?
  • It's fecking hilly. Ride hills and nothing else

    Ride the route on the long course weekend.

    Consider a 11-28
    Are you on a double ?

    Gearing think gearing
  • Just saw this post pop up at the side of 220 and thought I'd let you know how I got on in the end.

    I achieved my sub 11 hour goal, finishing in 10:37:02 and did indeed ride a TT bike in the end, a custom spec Cannondale slice which is an awesome ride.

    This put me 7th in my age group (25-29) and 58th overall.

    After I got the TT bike in March, I rode all of my training miles and races on it up to IMUK. It took a lot of getting used to the bike using the muscles differently, but in the end it's so much easier to run off a TT bike. Once I'd spent time with it, it's considerably quicker than the road bike so I'd definitely recommend the TT bike for pretty much any course.

    My bike leg was actually much too conservative in the race but I was at least in reasonable shape for the run, which was HARD! Particularly with it being so hot. Those hills really bite, but my marathon time came in at 3:29 which wasn't so bad.

    Unfortunately I missed out on a Kona slot by a few minutes so I'm already signed up for IMUK 2013 to go back and get it. Having got my first tri season under my belt the new goal is doing sub 9hrs 45 back up in Bolton.

    There's a few details over at www.richardwestover.com

    Thanks again for your help

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