Not just another Tuesday today! I've had the pleasure of chatting with the Race Director for Challenge Taiwan and Tri Asia, Michael Dhulst. He is also the Director of Sports for Thanyapura, a sports/education/lifestyle center in Phuket, Thailand. They have an amazing triathlon academy and world-class facilities and coaching in Thanyapura. Read on to get Michael's take on the future of triathlon in Asia, and his advice for athletes in choosing which races to do and which guides/coaches to follow, given the many options available today.
Looking back on this last year of racing, you could say I was pretty lucky for the most part. No punctures on the tires, no mechanical failures on the components, and no crashes. Consistent performance all around from my beauty of a bike - wish I could say the same of my legs! ;)
Now, I'm not a techie person at all. I usually get updated on all the latest bike stuff by my tri dork friends who love to post links and photos of new gadgets and gear. I must (shamefully) admit, that I never used to care about the inner workings of my bike. It was only on occasions when my position needed adjustment or some components were actually malfunctioning, that I gave my ride particular notice. But with the bigger challenges of racing in the professional category, I needed to have a better understanding of my equipment and its maintenance. And over time, I learned to be more discerning on my choice of equipment, and I learned to take better care of it.
And this past year, what made me sit up and pay attention was the fact that I didn't have any dramas with poor shifting, rear brake caliper problems, successive flats on training rides, etc.
So here's a closer look at the bike that got me smoothly through 2014:
Shimano DURA-ACE TT 11-Speed Groupset
These components are rather under-appreciated by most beginner athletes, and at times even by more experienced athletes, when the racing conditions are flat, fast, and easy. But when you race events like Challenge Philippines, rated by some pros as one of the toughest, hilliest half distance triathlon in the world; or Ironman 70.3 Cebu, with its windy bike course and rough road surface, you will be put in situations where fast and accurate shifting is not only a big advantage, but an actual necessity. The Dura-Ace series, the lightest and most precise of the Shimano groupsets, with that extra eleventh gear, definitely contributed to my performance in such technical races.
Maxxis Clincher Racing Tires: Columbiere and Courchevel
You can call it good luck, but you can also call it Columbiere and Courchevel! My Maxxis tires proved trusty throughout the year, with not a single flat in all my races. Racing primarily in the Philippines and Asia, road surfaces can vary from great to downright scary. These tires proved very versatile, with solid performances across many types of surfaces and weather conditions.