Hybrids, Duathlons and Defying Stereotypes

Alex, a young mum, recently walked through the doors of Academy Bikeworks with her faithful Ridgeback step-through hybrid, asking us to give it a service ahead of an event that she was soon going to be competing in - her very first duathlon!

A duathlon is a sandwich event, in so much that it starts with a run, followed by a cycling leg (normally a circuit), and finally finishes with another run. The final run on tired legs can be very taxing!

Alex was understandably nervous but excited about the event, but was concerned about how well she would do given that her bike wasn’t exactly designed with competitive events in mind! In fact, Alex joked about how the bike should have a little shopping basket on the front, and was considering fitting a child seat to the rear for her little one. “I bet I’m the only one that is riding a hybrid!“ she said in store.

It’s true, her bike was designed around practicality, not performance. But, it didn’t mean the event was an impossible target, and not one to be deterred, Alex was happy to proceed with the service and her plan to race.

Getting Alex and Her Bike Race Ready

Lots of people presume getting a bike race ready is all about the drivetrain, but the truth is it’s important that every aspect of the bike is ‘race ready’.

The drivetrain was in a good condition, but we predominantly focused on the brakes of Alex’s bike, as the rear was very stiff to operate. A new brake cable inner and outer soon cured that issue. We also fitted a new inner tube and some new rim tape for the front wheel.

Alex collected her bike and was pleased with the work we had done, and mentioned again her excitement and apprehension about the upcoming event. Alex was preparing for a duathlon being held in Worcester, organised by Pulse Events, who organise a number of running and duathlon events in the Midlands.

The weekend when the event was held saw wet and windy weather. A number of our customers had entered duathlons in the regions, and we were thinking of them all when the unseasonably warm weather turned, and not in the favour of any athletes!

Alex set off for her race, in a hi-vis pink waterproof jacket and trainers, on her old faithful steed - complete with it’s pannier rack and mudguards!

Follow up on Facebook

A few days later, we had a lovely message on Facebook from Alex.

“I did the whole thing in just under 2 hours,” she wrote, “and the 24k cycle only took 1:10, whereas I was fully expecting it to take 1:30.”

It was a great message to read, because not only had Alex braved the awful weather, she had overcome any worries she had about her first competitive event and any concerns she had about the suitability of her bike, and not only managed to finish the event but did far better than she was expecting!

“Thanks again - I literally couldn’t have done the event without you!”

Final Word

It’s often said that women feel nervous about getting in to cycling, as it’s a predominantly male dominated sport. Women often report feeling inferior or patronised when engaging with bike shops, bike brands or cycling events. And this is at every level of the sport it seems, from the rider just learning to ride right through to professional athletes and every woman in between.

I’ve often been told how refreshing it is to see a woman working in a bike shop, how that can instantly make another female rider feel comfortable about talking about their cycling needs, experiences and about asking any questions they may have.

What I love about Alex’s story is that while she had some concerns about her ability and her bike, she persevered nonetheless, and achieved her goal! It’s clear that she thoroughly enjoyed the event, and was adamant that while she might not have the ‘right bike’ for the type of event she had entered she was going to go ahead and do it anyway.

It’s nice, for a change, to focus on a woman overcoming and defying stereotypes about gender, about bikes, about sport, and having a great experience!

Not everyone has the inclination to compete, or to set themselves a big endurance challenge. But lots of riders, both male and female, set themselves little goals based on the sport they love. Our message is two fold, first, to come to us and not be afraid of asking your questions. We are here to help and we are happy to do whatever we can to help you achieve any goals that you set for yourself.

And secondly, don’t be afraid to try, because your experiences may be more positive than you anticipate and may just serve as an inspiration to others.

If you’ve set yourself a goal, or if you’re planning a ride which will be an achievement for you, get in touch and let us know!

Hannah Smith