Photo: 2-hour fixie ride, 10:00 am, 45 degrees, Linn County, Iowa
Weekly activity log:
Swim: 5,100 yds (ytd 69,800 yds.)
Bike: 127 miles (ytd 1,189 mi.)
Run: 0 miles (ytd 393 mi.)
Professionally, I work in marketing. Over the years, I've been directly involved in helping to raise billions of dollars for a very successful, global organization. Privately, I dabble in endurance sports, where over those same years, I've achieved a modicum of success.
Combine the two and I'm in an interesting spot. I see the marketing tactics of the various manufacturers in our sport and understand their methods. Some have honest ambitions and sincere intentions while others are simply looking for my/your money. They promise faster, stronger, fitter and healthier, knowing that our greed for bragging rights wins out over common sense. If a magazine or website advertises it, we must need it. If your buddy, or worse yet, your competition, races with it, you'd better do the same. While very few of us are out-n-out cheaters, most of us are always on the lookout for ways to cheat hard work.
Don't be a sucker. Don't fall for slick marketing, empty promises, over-hyped hype.
Do you know why Dave Scott was fast? Because he worked harder than the rest of us. Tim DeBoom, same deal. Macca, him too. Chrissie, duh. They'd kick your tail riding any bike, in any shoe, downing any drink. They want it worse than you and are willing to pay the price for it… and that price isn't 'retail.'
Before you go begging your spouse for the next whatzit you saw on the roof rack at the club, ask yourself, "Is it really going to make me a better athlete?" Odds are, the answer is no. Don't believe me? Go to eBay or craigslist and search for bikes, frames, wheelsets, wetsuits, etc. You'll find plenty of "only used one season" from people who fall for the sales pitch year after year… after year.
Equipment won't put you on the podium, hard work will… really, REALLY hard work.
I've been around some of the world's best athletes. I've trained next to them. I've shared their lap lane, their draft line, their time at the track. They sacrifice, they show up early and stay late. I've never been willing to drop everything to be that good. They are willing and able. But one thing I've noticed… they rarely if ever talk about equipment - they're too busy working harder than the rest of us. They ride what they ride. They know a good bike is a good bike, a good shoe is a good shoe, goggles are goggles and a great work ethic is what counts. I once asked an Olympian friend what running shoe she wore. Her reply, "whatever's on sale at the outlet mall," and then she ran me into the ground.
But wait, you say, what about that quote from the superstar that you saw in the glossy magazine? Someone like me wrote it for them. Don't fall for that schtick. If you want to be faster, stronger, fitter, healthier, save your money and work harder than the person next to you.
Think you need a new bike? Convinced it will add 1, 2, 5 mph to your average speed? It may "feel" fast when you bring it home, but compare your times from this year to last and they're eerily the same. Instead, take the bike you own now and actually ride it more, work harder and train smarter, suffer with the big boys in your locale and see serious results. The best part, you'll start burying all those people who spent their off-seasons shopping for "faster" instead of truly paying for it.
Next time you're at the cash register, ask yourself, "what's it really going to get me?" If the only real answer is credit card debt, think twice. Sweat is free and pays huge dividends.