Note from TriRig Publisher Nick Salazar - Hey everybody. For a long time now, I've written virtually the entire library of TriRig articles myself. There are one or two exceptions out there, but by and large, I've been the only voice on this site. Today that changes. I'm proud to welcome Andrew Strauss to the site. Andrew is going to tell you a little bit about himself in this article, and will be writing more of his own articles going forward. I'll have a look at everything he writes, and provide feedback before going to publication. But the entirety of Andrew's content, opinions, and overall voice belong to him. He's a great guy with a lot of experience in the world of publishing, and I'm really proud to bring him on board. Without further ado, here's Andrew!
Hi everyone. I wanted to tell you all a bit about myself so that you could get to know me a little better. Every day of my life currently involves triathlon in one way or another. I have learned so much from TriRig, and am very excited to be able to give something back.
My love affair with triathlon began about 3 years ago, in 2011. At that point in my life, I was looking for a new challenge, and triathlon seemed like an unsurmountable goal. When I heard about how long the various races were, it seemed impossible to do a half ironman, much less a full ironman. I couldn't run a single lap at the local 400m track without stopping halfway. My freestyle swim stroke was laughable (head outside the water the whole time). And the longest bike ride I was capable of completing was a few blocks for dinner. My goal was an Olympic distance race, which at that time seemed almost impossible.
At the time, I was living in a small city in China called Shijiazhuang. I say small but it has a population similar to Los Angeles. There wasn't much local triathlon activity, and it was really difficult to find training partners who were competitive in any of the three disciplines. I met a few cycling buddies, but I spent a lot of time learning from the internet and training on my own.
Before long, I was one of the stronger cyclists in that city, was swimming with my head in the water, and could run long distances without stopping. Training was, however, quite difficult. There were only a couple of pools in the city, and they were quite dirty and overflowing with people (most of whom were just horsing around). The air pollution was so bad that I had to run at 5am or 11pm in order to escape the smog. When I biked I wore an air filtration mask. I had to avoid all sorts of traffic: 3 wheeled delivery carts, old ladies on bikes without brakes, young kids on fast electric mopeds, various types of animals, cars driving backwards in the bike lane, street vendors selling food in the bike lanes, etc.
The difficulty in training was eventually one of the things that led me to move back to the states. In 2013, my wife and I moved to Boulder, CO, and haven't looked back. Boulder is an amazing place. And as far as triathlon is concerned, Boulder is the place to be. There are so many talented people and excellent resources here. I went from being one of the best cyclists in my city in China, to being left in the dust by the unbelievable athletes here, which has pushed me to work even harder.
Last year I completed a number of Sprint- and Olympic-distance events in Boulder, and was planning to complete my first half ironman this year. But when I saw that Boulder was going to be hosting its first full length Ironman this August, I couldn't resist changing my plans. I signed up for the full, and have been preparing for it feverishly ever since. This race is going to be a big challenge for me, and if any of you see me limping through the marathon, words of encouragement will be greatly appreciated.
I'm a big bike geek, and currently have 6 different bikes. My wife frequently asks me how many bikes one person needs, and my answer is always "N+1, where N is the number of bikes that I currently have." I enjoy working on bikes as well, and volunteer teaching a maintenance class that is part of Community Cycles' Earn-a-Bike program. During my free time, I am also building a lugged steel frame with a friend in Boulder.
My current weapon of choice is my 2013 Specialized Shiv Comp Rival on Flo 60 wheels. It is an amazing bike that I, for the most part, have been very pleased with. I have been slowly upgrading and modifying the bike to better suit me and my style of riding. It is about to get the "TriRig Treatment," which at present means dual Omega SV brakes and Mercury pedals, which I am very excited about.
I was disappointed with the brakes that came with the bike. They seemed very un-aero for a bike that touts its ability to cut through the wind. I also found them to be difficult to adjust and work with. The front pads have chipped the side of the fork on one side. I believe that the Omega SV will be an excellent upgrade.
For the last 2 years, my pedals have been Look KEOs. I purchased them because I knew that Look had a long history making pedals, and the KEOs seemed like a good value for a new triathlete. After using them, however, I have come to hate their single sided design. It seems that every time I go to clip in, I wind up spinning the pedal, and have to look down while I clip in to get it right. I have sworn to never purchase another pedal that doesn't allow clipping in from at least 2 sides. The Mercury pedal seems to solve this problem, and do so in an extremely light package. I had been hesitant to try the Mercury pedals because of their no-float design, but after reading more about the advantages of a no-float pedal, I will be giving them a try. I will be riding on the pedals for the next few months, and will write a long term update once I accumulate some miles on them.
Note from Publisher Nick Salazar: I told Andrew to be as honest as possible with both the pedals and the brakes - if he doesn't like them, I want my readers to know WHY. Of course, I'll help him with any technical issues, just like I do for ANY customer. But time will tell whether he ultimately wants to keep riding with Omega and Mercury on his bike, or whether he chooses to take them off. I've encouraged him to make this decision entirely on his own, as it won't affect his status as a writer here. Not in the slightest.
So that is a quick overview of me and my love of triathlon. I look forward to sharing more with you in future articles, and hope that my experience will bring a fresh perspective to TriRig. Feel free to leave me questions, comments, and words of encouragement in the comment section...I have feeling that come August I will need all the help I can get. Thanks for reading!