Five Tips to Get Your Bike Ready for Kona
Stefano Cattai has been the Technical Coordinator for the BMC-Ettix Pro Triathlon Team powered by Uplace and the BMC Racing Team since 2007. The Italian knows his stuff. Cattai started to race bikes at the age of 8 and turned professional twelve years later. His career as a professional cyclist spanned 14 years as a key domestic for some of the biggest riders of his era. Very experienced with the Ironman World Championships, Cattai gives you five tips to have your bike ready for the biggest goal of your season (or life).
1. Have your bike checked before you fly
Rule Number One when going to Kona is to have your bike checked by your dealer or mechanic. Hawaïï is an island state so everything is more expensive there and that’s even more the case prior to the Ironman World Championships. It is also better than counting on neutral service before the race which is always super busy and stressful.
Your mechanic should know what to check on your bike but you should definitely make sure you get a new chain, new brake pads and that your headset is in top condition. Also, if you use electronic shifting, ask for the latest version of the software.
While in a shop, take some time to buy a few spare parts: tires or tubulars, a chain, pads, etc. and nutrition. If your bike uses some specific parts, ask your dealer for replacement ones (dropout, screws, etc.). Note that cartridges are not allowed in planes so that you’ll have to get some on the island.
2. Pack your bike with care
Once your bike is checked, it’s essential to have it very well packed so you can travel with a free mind. There’s nothing worse than discovering a cracked frame or a broken part when unpacking your bike.
First of all, there is no right or wrong type of bike case. Rigid ones are maybe a bit safer but usually a bit smaller so require more parts to be disassembled and take a lot of space even when empty. Soft bags are usually lighter and easier to deal with once the bike is out.
In both cases, here are basic things you should absolutely do:
- Disassemble the rear derailleur and place it inside the rear triangle. A broken derailleur might not be such an issue (you can always buy a new one) but a broken or bent dropout can be more problematic
- Disassemble the cockpit. If it’s not possible, shorten the extensions as much as you can to avoid any leverage effect
- Remove the quick releases from the wheels and protect the external parts of the hubs with a specific hub protector or with thick cardboard
- Use as much protection as possible (foam tubes, bubble wrap, etc.) to protect the frame and different parts.
3. Pick the right wheels
Hawaïï is a very windy island and crosswinds will be your worst enemy during the bike leg. For safety reasons, disc wheels are forbidden but up to you then to use high or more traditional rims. If you can, I would suggest you to travel with two pairs of wheels and try them out on the course a few days before the race.
Put high rims on and go to the U-point where wind is the strongest and where speed is the highest (up to 70km/h). If you feel that your bike is moving when you’re being overtaken by a car or a truck, then it might be safer to go for traditional rims. It’s even truer for women who are usually lighter than men.
4. Put some thoughts into your nutrition set up
Hydration and nutrition are key aspects during any Ironman. The World Championships in Kona might be even more critical since it’s hot and humid there. So it’s crucial to have everything ready and tested before you fly to Hawaii. You definitely don’t want to improvise a set up there.
5. Last minute preps
On the eve of the race, before you go and place your bike in the transition area, change your bar tape. You’ll probably have sweated a lot since you arrived in Kona so your tape might be damaged. A fresh new tape will be appreciated on the day.
Finally, in the morning of the race, go to the transition area to have a last check at your bike and especially the tires. If you decide to use tubulars, make sure you pump them as late as possible before the start.