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Hilly Courses: Road Bike or Tri Bike ?

6 Jun 2016
by Tony Orru

By Tony Orru

This is season is kind of unique for me because of the two 70.3 events I put on my race calendar.

I have just completed Chia Laguna Half 70.3 over in Sardinia (Italy). It is a very tough, technical, hilly and windy bike course with 3,485 ft (1062 Meters) of gain. Coming next is Savageman with its 6,000 ft of gain with ascents with  20% inclines and a short Wall in Westernport reaching 31%. Thus it came almost automatically the dilemma: which bike to use for the two races. 

The Chia Laguna course is along a scenic and amazing Mediterranean coast. It is an out and back of which 24 miles are twisty and hilly with short and medium long ascents and descents. The longest ascent is 1.5
miles with grades up to 15%. The descents are a sequence of switchbacks and most of the time the wind blows so strong, gusty winds, that it can knock you off the bike very easily. 

Keeping all this in mind and after consulting with Matt Cole (he suggested the Tri Bike) I decided at first to use my Road Bike…..Matt was absolutely right and so professional that he did not try to convince me of
not using the Roadie, I did convince myself very soon, after a couple of rides on my Road bike I thought the Tri Bike was the right choice, and this is why.


Tri Bike:

1) My Look 576 has a very unique geometry: the top tube is sloping and the center of gravity low, and even with its 78 degree seat post this geometry makes this machine a great climber and a fast and nimble bike for technical descents.

2) Years of cycling gave me a lot of scares but also good skills, I grew up riding the windy Sardinian roads including the race bike course (it is 45 miles from my home town) so I was confident I could handle those conditions with the Tri Bike.

3) Matt Cole set me up on the bike so well that I love riding my Look 576 over the other 3 bikes that I own, when tucked in the aero bars I am able to rest my upper body and relax the entire body.

4) The remaining bike course was made by long stretches with some 1%-2% positive and negative inclines where being aero was the key especially to fight head wind.

5) During the preparation of the race I rode with some Podium team mates and I was extremely impressed by the speed they were able to generate when in aero position vs myself struggling to keep up with my road bike.

6) Above all, the most important reason of why I decided to use the Tri Bike: the Psychological one. Ya’ll know what I am talking about. I love riding my Look 576 and I feel that bike so much that somehow I was feeling bad not riding a bike I like so much. This was maybe the only irrational reason that influenced my final decision.  

So at the end I made the right decision and I want to thank Matt Cole, the two Podium Mechanics Allan and Tim for setting up my bike so well and helped me preparing for this race.

I truly convinced the Tri Bike is the right machine for 95% of all Triathlons out there with some exceptions such us: Escape from Alcatraz, Savageman, Alp D’Huez Half….on all these races I think we are in a kind of
limbo where the choice can be debatable and maybe the Roadie is the bike I would choose.  

Tony representing Podium at a Chia Laguna Half 70.3 - on and off the course!

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