Lessons from Triathlon – Get to Know Your Bike Mechanic!

by Katie Aguilar

My first triathlon was In 2010. At first, it was a change from marathons, but somehow the magic caught me. I was ready to sign up for my first Ironman and committed to Team in Trainings first Ironteam before I actually raced Augusta. That was around eight years ago.

At 70.3 Augusta 8 years ago!

Eight years. It’s not long but then again….it is.

I’ve experienced a lot.

Good and bad.

I’ve met a lot of people and been given a lot of tips.

I’ve also been asked a lot of questions. Rarely am I short on opinion when it comes to triathlon, but I’ve also learned to temper my thoughts and opinions because if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that the answer really depends on the athlete.

My friend and current marketing manager at Podium and All3 has encouraged me to write…telling me I have a story to tell that people can relate to and/or learn from. I like to write and asked if I could contribute. And so, with an ease friends share, we start with an occasional blog.

One thing I learned is to not be afraid to ask questions. This is a broad topic. Huge.

As I thought to get about it there are so many specific areas in which this can help you as an athlete and broaden your experience. This is a theme I will revisit with specific points.Today, however, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your bike mechanic.

Seriously. I never asked questions when I started riding. I just went with what they did…I didn’t ask how or why. One day a bike mechanic told me that I should be asking those questions and I should ask a lot. He also told me to ask for stuff discarded from my bike back when I change equipment (FYI….most shops should just have it all waiting for you, or ask if you want it back. It is, after all, your stuff).

And so I asked. I didn’t know how to get my rear wheel out of my bike frame, so I asked him to show me.

I didn’t know how to fine tune my Di2 shifters, and he showed me.

I didn’t know how to take apart my bike to fly with it, so I asked. And he showed me.

There’s value in their knowledge. Something short may take just a few minutes and the mechanic gladly offered it for free. Other things, like showing me how to take my bike apart took more than an hour so I paid him for his time. And appreciated his help. I used what he taught me and it was worth it.

Don’t be like a 2-year-old asking who spends all her time asking why but show a vested and honest interest in what is going on with your bike. You’ve spent a lot of money on it. You spend a lot of time with it. You need to be able to take some basic care of it, and understand what’s happening with it. You don’t want to be stranded due to a basic thing like knowing how to change a tube on your bike or adjust a brake.

One thing about chatting with your bike mechanic as they look at your bike is you hear that sing-song voice of someone doing what they love. Think about it…they are fortunate enough to take what likely started as a hobby (curiosity and tinkering out of necessity) and make it a profession.  As much as triathletes love to talk about numbers, watts, runs, rides, etc, ask your mechanic about their latest project. I’d bet it’s pretty amazing, and you’ll learn a thing or two.