The ghosts of triathlon equipment past – Triathlete

Triathletes are known as early adopters. Tell us that $5,000 gear will save us 12 seconds during an Ironman and that we’re selling off our kids’ college funds and getting out Apple Pay.

But sometimes that leads to decisions we’d rather forget – or, at least, photos we could live without! Here’s a collective “I’m glad it’s over” takes a look back at some tri kit pieces we’re glad to have in the past.

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Long tail aero helmets

(Photo: Nils Nilsen)

Long tail aero helmets seem like they were almost invented to give internet memes ammunition. Can anyone forget it Hawaii five-0 episode of triathletes robbing a bank…in long tail aero helmets? Sure, they test well in a wind tunnel, on a dummy that isn’t moving, when the wind is perfectly head-on and there’s no need to eat, drink or steer. But on a real human riding in crosswinds and constantly moving his head, those long-tailed helmets were a giant wind sail and a message to the world that triathletes aren’t always practical people.

Extra long cranks

The bike stage seems to be where bank accounts and bad decisions meet. This next trend I’d love to forget is one my hip flexors will always remember. Extra long crank arms might make sense on a road bike, but add a 175, 177.5, or dare I say even a 180mm crank arm to your aero position and you don’t get the extra torque you were hoping for; you get a closed hip flexor and running cramps. My body and my buns are much happier now.

Super aerobars

Back in the days of glued tubular tires (oh, the horror!), another major trend was to go low, really low—like Lil-Jon-low in our aero position on the bike. After two decades of racing with sore shoulders, stiff lower back and an immobile upper body, we finally learned that being in a slightly more upright aero position is not only more comfortable and better for our performance, but in a in many cases the durability makes it even more aerodynamic. Win-win.

Compression socks as casual wear

If you were walking around a city that hosted a triathlon in 2010, playing Spot the Triathlete was as easy as reaching for the neon compression socks we wore as a security blanket. Training? Put on compression socks! Have you just completed the training? Put on compression socks! Traveling? Put on compression socks! Going out for a nice dinner? Put on EXTRA compression socks!

Speedo Race Kits with Chamois

(Photo: Lois Schwartz)

Let’s start with this: you can pull my swimsuit out of my cool dead buns, but we jumped over the fashion faux pas line three times when we started putting padded chamois in our budgie smugglers. We’ve since learned that exposed (and sunburned) skin is actually less aerodynamic than a modern long-sleeved race kit.

Thank goodness our unfortunate ridiculousness is behind us and we can rest easy knowing we look great in our domed full face mask helmets. Oh, wait…

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