Changing anything is a big deal. And I think we can all agree: for a triathlete, changing bikes is one of the biggest deals there is. This year, my capacity for change feels massive. I’ve committed myself to racing fearless, challenging myself, questioning my perceived abilities and conquering any last bit of chickenheartedness that still exists in my soul—all while having the best time.
Given all that, it felt right to make a bike change. I felt like my new bike had to be as aspirational as I am feeling this year. So I want to talk about the new lady in my life: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, my new bike, aka the Notorious RBG.
Let me start by saying the decision-making process in selecting a new bike can feel immense. There are more choices, brands, and price points in tri bikes than ever, so deciding what’s right can be like finding a needle in a haystack. For me the choice was obvious, and not just because I am part of Team SFQ. My reasons for making the switch to Dimond have more to do with my experience as a medical device rep, my interaction with the Dimond team, and my size. (For reference, I’m super short, can’t hit five feet on my tip-toes, and I still can’t ride the big rides at most amusement parks.)
As a medical device consultant for nearly my entire career, I’ve learned a rather unique way of looking at technology. For me, this process always starts by seeking to identify a market leader. So let’s define market leader…I know you may be thinking this lady is nuts, one look at the Kona bike count and the argument falls apart, right!? Stick with me. The person with the highest share is not always the market leader. Market leadership can also be defined as a company that dominates by affecting the landscape of the market.
In 2013, when the first Dimond bikes were released to the public, you never saw a beam bike at an event. (OK, maybe some cool kids with a Zipp 2001 here and there.) Certainly, the design was not mainstream.
Now, fast forward to 2017, and several companies are rushing to make their seat stays and seat tubes disappear. Hmmmmmmm…
Where I come from, if a company can influence a market to the degree that there is forced change in the competitive landscape to meet a new demand, they would not only be defined as the market leader, they would be considered “disruptive technology” — a term introduced to me by the CEO of the company I work for.
A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and eventually disrupts an existing market, displacing established firms and products. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)
For me it is easy to see the innovation that Dimond has introduced into the tri bike market has so significantly influenced the marketplace it arguably makes them the market leader, forever changing the look of the tri bike.
Building and Fitting Ruth Bader Ginsburg
I am a firm believer in having a team. If you are planning a bike switch, I suggest you build your team as well, because you’re going to need them. From the beginning my team consisted of Calla Whipp from Dimond, Mike and Zach from Green Mountain Cyclery, who were doing the build and fit, and my coach Craig Scheckler.
We started out by taking measurements of my current bike and of me, and we sent those measurements to Calla, who provided us with a size chart to determine the stack, reach and saddle height values to make sure Zach would be able to fit my short booty on the new bike.
Then Mike and I worked to discuss what components we would be able to transfer vs. what we needed new or from Dimond. If you are planning to move components from your old bike to the new one, I’d advise you discuss compatibility with the manufacturer and be prepared for some unanticipated changes. In my case, we transferred my beloved e-tap but we needed new brakes, a new bottom bracket, and a new crank—plus new wheels, since my old bike had 650s and RBG is on 700s.
When the bike finally came, we needed several fit sessions and that’s when customer service is so important. While Zach was putting RBG together, he had a question about a modification to the seat post to better fit my super short legs. He sent a message to the general info email and TJ Tollakson called him right back. When does the CEO of a company call to answer a simple question!?
At times during the bike fit process, I felt a bit like Goldilocks. My seat was too high, my cleats were too low, my left leg was weird, and all around me pieces of my new bike were being cut off to accommodate my short stature. I have a word of advice for you shorties out there. When they start to hack off several feet of the brand new carbon you just paid for from your seat post, it’s best not to watch. Go out, get some coffee, and come back in about an hour after they’ve cleaned up. I definitely felt a piece of my soul go when Zack took a grinder to my seat post and cut off more than I’d like to admit. I had to get outta there—actually he asked me to leave because I was making a squeaking noise with each cut.
There is a saying in medicine: “The enemy of good is better.” When it comes to fitting a new tri bike, I think this saying holds true as well. You can spend an eternity trying to make it perfect on the first visit, but it’s better to get it to a place that feels good and then take it home and spin it out for a few days to see what you like and don’t like. Each bike has its own character and you need to get to know your new friend before you can make her perfect. Be mindful of the tweaks you want to make and don’t be afraid of being a PIA and going back to have the fit firmed up. Eventually, you’ll feel like a stealth bomber on that thing.
All told it took us about a week to finally have her road-ready, and I know the more in-saddle experience I have, the more tweaks we will make along the way. But I could not be more pleased so far.
The entire experience of triathlon is aspirational. We aspire to go faster, or farther, or just to finish. I know I am not the only one that is frequently overcome with emotion at the finish line.
If it is possible to love a thing, then my bike is that thing. Not in the way I love my daughters, Gigi and Lulu, or my husband David, but in the way it makes me feel, in the freedom it has given me. I rarely have time to do my make-up anymore, or color my hair. If I’m not in work clothes, then I’m in workout clothes. But I can tell you I have never felt more beautiful than I have since triathlon came into my life. Being part of the Smash-Dimond team now has wrapped me in a constant flow of inspiration from these women and having RBG as part of this journey has ignited something in me that leaves me feeling, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
Check out Josie’s awesome video of “One of life’s most exciting moments!” (Her words, not ours!)