Friday, January 27, 2017

Why not Tri it?

This new triathlon endeavor I’m undertaking may seem a little out of the blue to some. So, I decided to write a few thoughts down to give people an idea of where I’m coming from and perhaps in later posts, where I hope to go with all this.

I’ve spent the past 13 years devoting a good chunk of my life to cycling and gaining some unbelievable memories, life experiences, and friends in the process. But I was absolutely certain that 2016 should be my last year as a professional cyclist despite showing some good fitness and form at a few races throughout the season.

Why quit cycling? Well, travel for one. I didn’t like being on the road more than I was home from Jan. – Sept. I would come back from a 2 or 3 week trip and my kiddo would be noticeably bigger and have new ‘tricks’ to show me. That sucked. I want to be there as life happens, not as a transient who is there in spurts. But as much of a reason as the travel, was the waning fire for the sport. Road cycling is entirely too hard to be just 85% committed. I found myself feeling less than elated after wins or good performances. And I found myself less inclined to be there when it counted in riskier situations. My teammates definitely deserve better than that. My cycling ‘home’ for the past 5 years – formerly Optum, now Rally Cycling Team – prides itself on our one-for-all mentality and our ability to sacrifice individual ambitions for the success of one. I still say ‘our’ because I still feel like I’m a part of that family. It’s a great feeling when you work together with your teammates for a goal and then achieve it. Conversely, it’s an awful feeling when you let your teammates down when it matters. I found myself in that position far too often for my liking.

However, I still enjoy endurance sports and I love new challenges so I didn’t want to completely toss in the towel. Sometime in early 2016, I decided that I’d give triathlon a try after my cycling career concluded. I’ve always joked that I’m a triathlete posing as a cyclist, due to my inability to accelerate but knack for going hard for hours. Now, I guess we’ll see how accurate that joke is! I ran competitively from age 10 to age 23. Then, I devoted the next 14 years to cycling. Now, I just have to swim hard for 10 years or so and I should be ripping at this sport! Nah, I’m all good. I’m the same height, weight, and shoe size as Phelps so that should count for something, right? I love the challenge that swimming has posed these past 4 months. It’s been a lot of fun for me to work on the nuances and track progress. And I’ve had a lot of guidance along the way (thanks Dave, Jeff, Doug & Tate!). I’m excited and nervous for my first mass start swim coming up in just over a month. Besides a couple hundred meters splashing around in the Gulf of Mexico last fall, it will be my first open water swim, too – yikes!

So, if you want to see some potentially interesting splits in a result sheet, my debut triathlon is slated for Mar. 5 at the Desert Triathlon in La Quinta, CA. I hope to do well overall, but there are far too many unknowns for me to call myself “confident” of a good result at this point.

And again, I’d like to thank my sponsors are supporting me on a leap of faith and who have virtually eliminated my startup costs. Diamondback, Hed., Castelli, ISM, and Zoot – I hope to do you proud! (or at least not embarrass us)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

News Flash!

This just in: Zirbel is going to be a Tri-Geek in 2017!

Yep, it’s for realz. I’m going for it. How hard could it be? I can bike, I used to run purty good, and I’ve never once drowned while swimming. And amazingly enough, there are some companies who think I might be alright at this new endeavor - though I’ve never actually competed in a triathlon:

- Diamondback is going to be putting me on the fastest triathlon bikes in da world. Yippee!

- Of course I will be using Hed wheels like I have done for the majority of my cycling career (I feel like I’m a part of the family)

- Castelli will be providing superior clothing for performance and comfort

- I will be on ISM Saddles so I know my nether regions will be taken care of

- And Zoot is providing wetsuits and accessories so I don’t sink and can look the part

Thank you to my sponsors who are taking a leap of faith with me on this new adventure. It should be an exciting ride! And as a show of good faith...I have reluctantly started a Facebook page and will actually be posting to it and my Instagram account. Sorry Phil Booth (Social Media guy with Rally Cycling who tried valiantly to get me to start using social media the past few years)! I'm actually excited to write a little bit. It seems to help me process events more effectively. And I have a lot of changes this year to process!

Thanks for reading.