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Removing and Replacing Pedals

Learn about properly removing and replacing your pedals

This task sounds really easy (but isn’t always). Removing or replacing pedals is one of the bike maintenance projects that most will attempt at one time or another. Reasons for removing or replacing pedals include traveling for an event like Rookie Triathlon (in which your pedals need to be removed), buying new clip-in pedals, and just general bike care.

Tools and supplies needed:

Pedal wrench – a normal adjustable wrench will work, but a pedal wrench will help you protect the pedal and provide more leverage for stubborn pedals.

Grease – used to re-grease the pedal threads if dry.

Set of Allen wrenches – some pedals are not compatible with pedal wrenches and require the use of a 5, 6, or 8mm Allen wrench from the inside tip of the spindle.

TIPS

The first thing to know is that the left pedal is reverse threaded. This means that the right one is “righty tighty” and “lefty loosey.” The left one is the opposite. Viewing from atop the bike, both pedals thread in the direction the bike moves forward. This design is to prevent the pedals from coming off as you pedal forward.

The second thing to know is that pedals are right and left specific. They are usually marked with a small R or L.

Leave the wheels on the bike. This stabilizes the bike for stubborn pedals.

If you ever notice that the threads are dry, add a little grease. Do this once every six months and on every set of new pedals you buy.

STEPS

The best position for taking pedals off is to stand over the bike with the crank arm that has the pedal you are taking off facing straight forward. Attach the pedal wrench so that it is facing straight back. Hold on to the reverse side crank arm with your free hand and press down on the wrench. This is the easiest way to remove pedals.

When replacing pedals, always use your fingers to start the threading process to prevent stripping the pedal threads. When tightening, make sure that both pedals are snug. They do not need to be so tight that you may have trouble removing.

Secure Your Bike and Protect it from Unwanted Riders

Properly secure your bike and make sure it stays yours

Just about everyone transports their bike from home to wherever they ride. So what do you do with your bike when you stop at a convenience store to get a drink? What if you make a quick stop on the way home to grab dinner? You should lock and secure your bike on your rack so that someone does not “borrow” your bike. After all, you worked so hard to buy! Pro tip: it never hurts to double-check that your lock is actually locked.

If you have a roof rack chances are that you have locks built into your rack. Otherwise, you can easily get them from a shop that sells your brand of rack. If you do not have locks or you have a rear rack for your car, then you can use a cable lock to secure your bike to your car.

Anytime you lock your #bike, you should run the cable through the frame of the bike and your wheels as well. Click To Tweet

Always secure your bike

Anytime you lock your bike, you should run the cable through the frame of the bike and your wheels as well. This also goes for locking your bike to a bike rack if you are commuting. This increases the likelihood that your wheels won’t disappear from your bike. These additional tips will also come in handy when you secure your bike.

Remember: anything that can come off of your bike without tools (wheels, saddlebag, seat post on mountain bikes) someone else can take off as well.

One last thing to remember is that locking your bike is a deterrent. If someone really wants it and they have a little time, they will get your bike. Lock your bike in plain sight so people can see it. Try not to leave it outside for long periods of time. Being proactive in protecting your bike will go a long way in ensuring it remains right where you left it. Make sure you secure your bike every time you’re away from it, even if it’s for a few minutes.

7 Steps to a Clean Bike

Not only does a clean bike look great, but it also performs better, lasts longer, and is easier to maintain

Perhaps you haven’t cleaned your bike all triathlon season. Maybe you just went on a long ride and it rained on you. It might be the end of your season and you’re putting your bike away for a few months. Whatever the case, it’s time to clean your bike! Follow the 7 steps below and your bike will be clean in no time. Take care of the bike that takes care of you. Remember, a clean bike is a happy bike.

Supplies

  1. An old shirt or a few rags
  2. Dish soap
  3. Small bucket
  4. Water hose
  5. Bicycle lubricant

Guideline for a clean bike

Step 1:

Set the nozzle on the hose to a light spray and spray down the entire bicycle. You do not want the pressure of the water to be too powerful. It could remove grease in areas that will be difficult for you to replace.

Step 2:

Tear the shirt into a few pieces and place in the bucket with a cap full of dish soap. Fill the bucket halfway with water and mix the water and soap around with the rags. Take one rag from the bucket and scrub the entire bike. Get the tires, frame, spokes, rims, hubs, drivetrain, and any other part of the bike that seems dirty. Check out this bicycle cleaning kit, it can make it easier to get to some of those hard to reach spots.

Step 3:

Take the water hose again and spray your bike off one more time. This should remove the remaining grime that has been loosened up by the scrubbing.

Step 4:

Take one of the remaining rags and dry the bicycle off. You can allow it to drip dry for a few minutes to make this easier.

Step 5:

Now that your bicycle is clean and dry, it is time to re-lube the drivetrain and other moving parts. Take your bike lube and cover the entire chain. Drip a few drops on the cassette of the bicycle. Now drip a few drops on each side of your wheels were your skewers go through the hub. Finally, drip a few drops on the brake calipers where the center bolt passes through and connects to the frame. This blog post provides more specifics on cleaning a drivetrain.

Step 6:

Now put your helmet on and take your bike for a little spin. Make sure you shift into every possible gear on your bike to spread out the lube. If you do not want to ride, just lift your rear wheel off the ground and shift the bicycle into every gear that way.

Step 7:

Last but not least, wipe the chain and drivetrain down one more time with a clean, dry rag to remove excess lube.

Happy cleaning!

Understanding Brake Issues

Become knowledgeable about brake issues with this advice

Having brake issues? If so, you might be able to identify the problem yourself. There are three main reasons brake levers typically malfunction:

  • Your brake pads are not close enough to the rims
  • The system is not tight or fully “engaged”
  • Your levers are damaged or dirty

Always check that your brake pads are close enough to your wheel rims. Before you reposition them, check that the pads are not too worn down. Replace the pads if needed.

If the pads are okay, then turn the cable adjustment knob counterclockwise until the desired pad-to-rim distance is achieved (1/8th of an inch is standard). The cable adjustment knob is located either where your brake cable enters your lever or on the brake caliper.

Most modern braking systems have a quick-release mechanism that allows you to loosen the cable system without affecting your brakes effectiveness. This is the “slack” in the system needed to open the brake arms wide enough to get your wheel out. Some quick-releases are located on brake assemblies. Others are located on brake levers or elsewhere along the cable route. If you find too much “slack” in your braking system, check these quick-release mechanisms first to make sure they are engaged properly.

You may need to clean or repair the brake levers if your brake quick-releases are connected properly but the levers function poorly.

If you’re still having brake issues contact James Balentine of City Limit Cycles. You can schedule an appointment and he’ll make repairs at your home or office!

3 Riding Quotes That’ll Get You Back in the Saddle

Riding quotes to reignite your flame

The weather. Work got busier. Kids are sick. Your bike needs a tune-up. Recovering from injury. Whatever the reason, you haven’t been riding lately. These 3 riding quotes will get you back in the saddle in no time (unless you’re injured, get better first). Go for a quick ride on one of these three routes or get your friends together for a group ride. Just get the wind blowing in your face again. You’ll appreciate it!

“If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.” Lance Armstrong

“Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.” Charles M. Schulz

“She who succeeds in gaining mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.” Susan B. Anthony

Why You Should Wear Sunglasses When Riding Your Bike

Wearing sunglasses when riding isn’t just for looking cool

In addition to looking hip, wearing sunglasses regularly can have several benefits. This applies to running, hanging at the beach, driving a car, and especially riding your bike. If you have some sweet specs that make you look cool, all the better! We recommend the UA Igniter II Sunglasses by Under Armour. In honor of National #SunglassesDay, we take a look at why wearing shades on your bike ride will protect you and make you safer. Click To Tweet

Protection

  • Dust and debris – You will encounter visible and non-visible projectiles whether you’re riding the trails or commuting to work. Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from flying debris might be the most important reason. Flying debris doesn’t care if you’re riding solo or with a group. Cars kick up rocks, bugs are everywhere, even other cyclists can kick up debris on the side of the road. Dust is everywhere. It’s often stirred up by cars, other riders, or Mother Nature. Glasses won’t protect you from all the dust, but it’ll surely help. If you wear shades when riding then you know you have to clean them after every ride.
  • UV exposure – Repeated exposure to UVA and UVB radiation from the sun will have negative consequences on your vision. Protecting your eyes is critical to the short-term, and in this case, the long-term health of your eyes. Make sure your lenses are polarized and have a coating that absorbs the sun’s rays. Lenses also need to be a neutral color, not crazy tints and extreme colors. Your goal is to protect your eyes while replicating what your eyes see naturally.

Safety

  • Clearer view – The correct lenses will help clear your view when cycling. Cyclists have a large amount of information to process when riding. You’re watching for vehicles, intersections, signaling turns, avoiding potholes, tracking other cyclists and runners, the list goes on. Any time you can eliminate distractions you free up the ability to pay attention and process more information. Proper lenses will also help reduce the sun’s glare. Glare could shine in your eyes from street signs, windows on buildings, or the hood’s of cars. Proper fitting sunglasses will also reduce the amount of wind that hits your eyes. Wind alone can cause dryness and irritation when riding.

Next time you’re on the road, grab a pair of sunglasses for your ride. Even a cheap pair will provide protection until you can get a pair that you’ll love. Taking care of your eyes now will pay dividends down the road.

 

Rookie Triathlete: Part 9: My First Triathlon

I did it, I completed my first triathlon

blog about completing my first triathlon

William and Barny. Photo – Ed Sparks

Back in January, I committed to my first triathlon, 2018 Rookie Triathlon. What began as a small idea quickly turned into a side bet complete with trash talk and a race-day following that formally introduced triathlon to newbies. I was fortunate to have one of the best triathletes in the world (Paul “Barny” Matthews) as my coach. I spoke with countless triathletes, both Rookies and IRONMAN finishers. Basically, everything they said could happen did happen at some point. Based on my training and my mock Rookie Tri in February, I figured finishing in 75 minutes would be respectable. Remember, I finished my mock triathlon in 1:34:43. I completed my first triathlon in 1:06:55.

When I set out to do something I’m all in. But I know for a fact I wouldn’t have been as successful and felt as good during my first triathlon if it weren’t for Barny. His training plan made me #feelthebarn before race day so I knew what to expect on race day.

Race day – Sunday, May 6, 2018

My alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. Why so early? My wife and good friend were volunteering that morning and needed to be there to help with parking. The night before I went through the entire race and packed my bag. Stickers were placed on my bike and helmet. Everything was quadruple checked. Hydration was mixed and placed in the fridge. I wanted race morning to be smooth.

Well that didn’t go as planned. Part of getting up a bit earlier was to ensure my bodily functions worked the way I wanted them to work in my own home. That didn’t happen. Porta-potties here I come. I checked my bag one more time because why not?! We took off on time and headed to Decker Lake. We get about halfway through and sonofa… I left both bottles of hydration in the fridge. So many scenarios go through my head. I popped off 35 at the next exit and booked it back to the house. NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY. We arrived around 5:30. Still early, but there were folks already parking! I parked and wanted to get my bike racked. I’d have plenty of time to get my bag and set up transition.

killing time in transition at my first triathlon

Passing time in transition. Photo – Ed Sparks

Killing time

Transition is set. Now I’m looking around thinking “Now what?” as I plot ways to kill time. I see friends and chat with them about my blog. Are you nervous they ask? Hell yeah I am. I spot my friend Rod Newlin before he took off to manage the bike course. We chatted for a bit and I wished him a happy belated birthday. He told me I’d be fine and shouldn’t be nervous. Easy for you to say Rod! But in reality, his words were helpful.

I found Raul Najera of RunFarUSA (timing company) and chatted with him a bit. Still killing time. He needed some help moving mats and re-wiring his timers. I quickly offered my assistance and asked if this gesture would help shave some minutes off my overall time. Apparently, that’s not the case. During this time I ran into my coach who gave me a sweet Ameican flag robe and boxing gloves. Something to ease the tension and create some laughs. I must’ve made three or four trips to the porta-potty. Man, I missed my own bathroom.

final preparation at my first triathlon

Trying to relax before the Rookie Tri. Photo – Ed Sparks

The race

My wife and friend join me after their volunteer duties are complete (thanks for volunteering!). I chat with some more folks. Find my arch-nemisis and his crew and laugh my ass off. His morning was more horrible than mine was. The race begins and we watch the Open wave cut through the smooth water. They make it look so easy. Barny exited the water and I cheered for him. He eventually won his second Rookie Tri in a row. A week after finishing 13th overall in the IRONMAN North American Championships. It’s almost game-time.

As we’re waiting in line, Paras (my arch-nemisis) and I start quickly re-thinking what we’ve gotten ourselves into. But we’re both competitors. When nobody was looking and we didn’t have access to our phone, we quickly slapped hands, wished each other the best of luck, and agreed we couldn’t wait for the post-race booze. It’s time to swim.

The swim

entering the water at my first triathlon

Entering Decker Lake. Photo – Ed Sparks

We were in line to be the last two of the Rookie male 30-39 to enter the water. Perfect. The next group would start a little after us and not as many would catch me. Wrong. We were the first to start with the 40-49 because Paras forgot his swim cap and his color matched theirs. Great. I enter the water in exactly what I’ll wear on the bike and run, minus shoes, plus goggles and nose plug. The first 50m are fantastic. Yes, this is all coming together as planned! Then someone hits my leg and it throws me off. Damn. Get it back together William. Get my stroke back and my leg is hit again, then my back. It’s clear folks are passing me.

My heart starts racing. My form goes to shit. I start kicking more. Welp, this isn’t good. Just keep moving forward. I breaststroke for a bit to get my breath back and return to my form. But the damage is done. My heart rate is high and my breathing is off. Just keep moving forward. I tried everything I could to get back under control, even swimming on my back a couple times. Nothing worked. I was already exhausted. I focused on making it to the next buoy. Then the next buoy. I’m in the home stretch and I can’t wait to feel solid earth beneath my feet. I finish the swim in a disappointing 9:52. Nearly three minutes more than my mock Rookie Tri swim. My first thought once I learned that Paras was ahead of me: makeup time on the bike.

The bike

Transition went smooth. I used the run to transition to gather myself and catch my breath. Arrived at my bike and everything is ready to go. I step on my towel to dry my feet while I put on my sunglasses and helmet. Slip on the shoes I’ll run in and head towards bike out. I cross the line and hop on, ready to chase down Paras. I quickly grab some nuun because I know I’m about to push myself like never before on a bike. Riding the course beforehand was a tremendous boost. Familiarity is huge. I was passing folks and feeling good. Everything was working out better than I anticipated. At every hill I’m looking for Paras. Nowhere. Shit.

starting the bike at my first triathlon

Playing catch up. Photo – Ed Sparks

But I’m in a groove now. Smoking the downhills and pounding the uphills. I’m getting after it. I finally see Paras on the frontage road and get this insane jolt of energy. He started more than two minutes ahead of me. I’m going all out now (which got me later). I don’t catch him until we turn right into the home stretch. Turn the corner, pass him, blow a kiss, and keep going. I need to make up time. Paras had more in the tank than I thought. We went back and forth on Decker Lake Rd. and eventually made it to transition at the same time. We had folks Facetiming people who couldn’t be there and streaming our race on Facebook live. I finished the bike in 37:44. That’s 24 minutes faster than my mock Rookie Tri bike. The Wrecker at Decker was living up to the hype.

The run

Transition went smooth again. Pre-planning helped. Took one last swig of nuun, dropped my bike off, and grabbed my SPIbelt. I leave transition right behind Paras. It’s on. I know he’s a top-notch runner, but folks on-course told me he incurred a couple penalties. He is faster, but I still have a chance. The course was changed because of flash flooding, so my day-before run didn’t help much. I’m feeling good, folks are cheering, volunteers are awesome. I see Paras start to disappear, but I don’t worry about that. I focus on passing one person at a time, keeping my pace.

crossing the finish line at my first triathlon

Crossing the Rookie Tri finish line. Photo – Ed Sparks

The new course weaved in and out for two miles. Every chance I got I poured water on my head. I turn the last leg and Barny is there cheering as loud as he can. Paras has penalties! You still have a chance! I catch my last boost of energy and head for the finish of my first triathlon. I’m asking my body to push itself beyond what’s it ever done. The finish is getting closer. I can hear Logan. Paras is at the edge of the finish chute and gives me a high five as I enter. He was three minutes ahead of me. I crossed the line of my first triathlon in 1:06:55. Eight minutes ahead of my 75-minute prediction. That’s a 28-minute improvement from my mock Rookie Tri in February.

I’m a triathlete

I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon and immediately fell to the ground. Exhausted. No medical was needed, just had to gather myself for a minute. I didn’t beat Paras, but I became a triathlete. The post-race trash talk wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. We were both that tired. We took photos, hung out with friends, our coaches joined the fun, we drank a few beers, and enjoyed the energetic finish line festival.

post-race photo at my first triathlon

The squads post-race. Photo – Ed Sparks

The entire experience was something I’ll never forget. My wife supported me through yet another endurance event and training cycle. Megan is a beautiful soul for putting up with my shenanigans and ability to consume great quantities of her amazing cooking. I appreciate Barny and all of his efforts. He’s a huge reason for my improvement. That is undeniable. I strongly encourage contacting him if you’re looking for a coach for your first triathlon or your first IRONMAN. I’m grateful my employer, High Five Events, allowed me to compete and not have to work the event. My co-workers provided a never-ending stream of insight and support.

What’s next?

I’m not sure what the future holds. I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon and said never again. But the more I think about it the more I realize I can still improve. I can get better at the swim. So I won’t say never now. I will say I’m a better runner because of swimming and cycling. My body feels better. I’m getting stronger. This cross-training thing is legit. I will keep swimming in the pool. I’ve begun riding my bike to work. My legs have more energy when I run. I really like what this journey has done for me.

If you’ve made it this far, then thank you. Thanks for reading and for your in-person and online support. If completing a triathlon is on your radar I highly suggest Rookie Triathlon. The entire event is well-organized (I’m biased), but I also approached my first triathlon as a Rookie triathlete, not the High Five Events Communications Manager. Most of my nerves were self-induced. Rookie Triathlon is perfect for that first-timer. There was plenty of room in transition, parking went smoothly, the water entrance was well-managed, and the finish line festival was one huge after party! If you’re like me and like planning ahead, 2019 Rookie Triathlon will take place on Cinco de Mayo. Don’t forget, I’m still a Rookie.

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Huge finish line festival capped off 15th annual Rookie Tri celebration

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Final preparations for the 15th Annual Rookie Tri!

On Sunday, May 6th, nearly 800 Rookies and Veterans participated in the 15th Annual Rookie Tri at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park in Austin, Texas. Temperatures were ideal for those competing in their first ever triathlon or the first triathlon of their season. Rookies, those who participated in their first or second triathlon, consisted of half the field.

“The volunteers were super helpful and really calmed my nerves on all of the “little things” that I needed to know (swim caps, transition zones, other rules),” said Paras Shah, who completed the 15th annual Rookie Tri (his first) in 1:03:29. “The crowd was very energetic and supportive and it was fun coming down the last mile and really hearing people genuinely excited for all of us first timers finishing a tri!”

Professional triathlete Paul “Barny” Williams repeated as overall champ with the time of 43:53 at the 15th annual Rookie Tri. Second and third place went to former pro Jamie Cleveland and Jack Cartwright. They crossed the finish line in 45:11 and 45:18 respectively. The women’s podium was topped by professional triathlete Natasha Van Der Merwe who had a winning time of 49:06. Second place finisher Haley Koop (50:50) and third place finisher Doreen Redenius (53:45) rounded out the women’s field.

Rookie Tri, Sunday, May 6, 2018

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Hangin’ ten on the 11.2-mile bike ride.

The Rookie Tri has three different divisions: Rookie (first or second triathlon), Veteran (completed more than two triathlons), and Open. Rookies and Veterans start the swim in their division based on their age group. Two participants enter the water every few seconds. The Open Division allows participants to begin regardless of age, with a mass swim start. Rookie Tri introduced two new categories for 2018: Athena and Clydesdale. The inclusion of the categories, which had 79 total participants, created more energy and competition on race day.

The wetsuit legal 300-meter swim took place in a 72 degree Decker Lake. The 11.2-mile bike course featured rolling hills. The two-mile run course ran through the park. Participants received custom 2018 shirts and water bottles, swim cap, beer, a post-race meal, and the signature swag toss. Professional timing and photography, as well as a great volunteer crew and hundreds of supportive spectators, made this triathlon memorable for rookies and veterans alike. The Rookie Triathlon participants can see their times here. They can also relive race day by checking out photos from the event on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

15th Annual Rookie Tri Introduces Hundreds to Triathlon

Yes, the Oskar Blues was ice-cold!

Rookie Tri would like to thank all of the volunteers for coming out and making today’s event memorable for all triathletes. Their willingness to get up extra early to cheer on and support every participant truly made a difference in their experience. Rookie Triathlon would also like to thank sponsors City Limit Cycles, RunLab Austin, Oskar Blues Brewery, nuun hydration, Clif Bar, Ben Phillips-Engel and Volkers Austin, and SPIbelt.

All photo credits – Ed Sparks

4 Ways to Reduce Your Rookie Tri Stress

Use these tips from a pro to handle pre-race stress

Rookie or Veteran, Rookie Triathlon stress, nerves, anxiety, jitters, whatever you want to call it, it’s real. Perhaps the butterflies kicked in when race week arrived. Maybe a co-worker asked about your confidence on Hump Day and your stomach turned upside down. You could be like William, who’s training for his first triathlon. Reality set in when he arrived at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop for Rookie Tri packet pickup. William met Paul “Barny” Matthews, his coach, for some advice and tips. These tips to reduce stress can be used by anyone. So if you know someone worried about final preparations for this Sunday, share this video with them!

Implement these additional tips to take your Rookie Tri pre-race preparation one step further.

How to Make Your Rookie Tri Swim Start a Breeze

Everything you need to know about the swim start

2018 Rookie Triathlon swim start details.

2018 Rookie Tri starts at 8:00 a.m. with the Open wave.

As you all know, swimming is the first discipline of a triathlon. The Rookie Tri swim start is arranged to be more manageable and less stressful for first- or second-time triathletes. Race morning is as relaxed as you make it. One way to keep it relaxed is to know your wave, your age group, and when you’ll enter the water. Before we dive in, you also need to know when transition opens and closes.

Rookie Triathlon transition opens at 6:00 a.m. at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park in northeast Austin (parking opens at 5:45 a.m. and carpooling is encouraged). If you’re the type who worries about time, traffic, and parking, then arriving earlier than normal will benefit you tremendously. Make sure you know transition rules, body marking, and how to wear your timing chip. Keep in mind that transition closes at 7:30 a.m. It’s time to head to Decker Lake for the Rookie Tri swim start!

Swim start

Rookie Tri Open wave swim start is at 8:00 a.m.

Pass the time before your swim start and cheer on the pros in the Open Wave.

The Rookie Tri utilizes a time trial swim start (except for the Open wave). Depending on course density and the flow of the event, at least one person at a time will enter the water (at approximately two-second intervals). Participants will start with their assigned wave (eg. Rookie, Men 40 & over), but the order within each wave is unimportant. The time for each person will start when they cross the swim start timing mat at the water’s edge.

The Open wave will begin at 8:00 a.m. They will be followed by Veteran Men, Veteran Women, Aquabike and Relays, Rookie Men, and Rookie Women. It is imperative you have everything you need for the swim when you transition closes at 7:30 a.m. Each wave will start approximately four minutes after the one before it. Each wave will also have their own swim cap color. To see the entire schedule and approximate times, check out the Rookie Tri Event Schedule.

The waiting game

The first Rookie wave begins around 8:40 a.m. The final Rookie wave will take off around 9:08 a.m. As a first-timer, you’re probably wondering, what do I do until my wave begins? We’ve got a few ideas for you.

  • find a quiet place to relax, gather yourself, and briefly escape from the moment, this could help calm race-day nerves

    Relax with family and friends before your swim start

    Relax with friends and family before your swim start!

  • talk to some friends and family to pass the time, especially if your tri club/group is out in full force
  • step to the side of the action for some last-minute stretching, this is another way to reduce race-day jitters
  • watch the Open wave and cheer on the other triathletes, remember, they all started right where you are