Handlebar Advice Urgently Requested!
OK, so I’m now six weeks out from my first half Iron-man race. It’s time to get all those little doubts and niggles about things like bike setup sorted out. My big worry is what handlebar setup to go for on this 58-mile, relatively flat course, and I hope YOU can give me some advice.
Generally I prefer undulating / climbing courses to this kind of flatness - I’m nearly 6 ft tall, and around 11st (154 lbs), so not too bulky, but not too much in the way of muscle to power my way through a headwind either. My options are:
- A full-on TT set-up. Profile Airwing base-bars, T2+ clip-on aero-bars, bar-end shifters. This would be the text-book setup for this flat course. The problem I have is that it’s fine for sprint, or Olympic distance triathlons (~12 miles and 25 miles respectively), but I have a bit of a dodgy neck (some whiplash history) that really starts to get uncomfortable after about 90 minutes in the full-on It’s Mr Triathlete To You position. So I end up riding on the ‘hoods’ position on the base bars (about 1 1/2″ lower than real hoods) which means I don’t shift gear as easily, and end up with my cadence running between 80 and 120, instead of the 95-110 that I’d otherwise maintain. I have just added riser spacers to lift the elbow pads by ~1/2″, which may improve things a little.
- A Half-way set-up. Normal drops with integrated shifters & brake levers, with the T2+ aero-bars on top. This is pretty good, except now it’s fiddly to change gear when I’m down on the aero bars! I guess there’s no pleasing some people.
- A standard road-bike setup. Just the regular drops, and no aero-bars at all. This is undoubtedly the most comfortable, and I can keep the cadence locked right in the zone on rides of up to six hours. For my race in six weeks time, I’m aiming for a little over half that. The problem is that it’s not the most aeordynamically efficient position to ride in. I worry about this not for the speed, but for the energy consumption. Put it this way, riding on the aero bars is around 8% more efficient. That’s a lot! Also, I have a huge inferiority complex - what will the roughy-toughy triathletes doing the Cleveland Steelman think of me looking like a Big Girl’s Blouse of a Roadie?
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Thanks for helping!