With the 2011 triathlon season fast approaching and duathlons well underway, we decided to do our own introduction to triathlon and pick out just a few great races from across the UK this year.

Triathlon has become one of the fastest growing sports in the world since its beginnings in 1974. Spurring from a group of friends consisting of swimmers, cyclists and runners who began training together and quickly realised there was an opportunity to initiate something both fun and challenging. In next to no time they were organizing multi-discipline competitions combining the three sports they enjoyed, made up of a continuous swim, cycle ride and run they had created the triathlon.

Traditionally competitors race against the clock as well as each other, but for many it’s as much about the personal achievement of crossing the line. There are multiple distances and most races cater for the full spectrum of athletes; from the seasoned pro to a novice first timer. So don’t be scared, look online at www.britishtriathlon.org for more information on triathlon, clubs and local events or enter one of our events that we’ve picked out. Signing up for a race is a great motive and will give you something to aim for, be warned though – it is addictive! The cross training element will provide a positive variation to your usual routine, keeping you engaged and motivated!

The most common race distances are:

Super sprint – 400m/10km/2.5km
Sprint distance – 750m/20km/5km
Standard distance (Olympic) – 1500m/40km/10km
Middle distance – 2.5km/80km/20k
Ironman distance – 3.8km/180km/42km

On the day, make sure you get there with plenty of time to set up your kit, learn the route, and have a chat – triathlons are a great social event! If you decide to go for the full triathlon experience and enter an open water race then you’ll probably need a wetsuit, these start at around £200 but many events offer suits to hire. If you’re a weak swimmer or the open waters don’t appeal to you then there are plenty of pool triathlons.

It doesn’t matter what bike you’ve got, be it a road bike, hybrid or mountain bike – as long as it’s in a healthy ride-able condition (you may want to service it before), but you will need a helmet! It’s best to wear something close-fitting and comfortable as you don’t want it flapping around on the bike but if you are not a fan of the figure hugging purpose-made tri suits (we have a great tri range, including Louis Garneau who are exclusive to Evans Cycles in the UK!) then wear a singlet and shorts, or pull a t-shirt on in the first transition (after the swim) with a pair of comfy running shoes. Bike shoes are a luxury but as you progress clipless pedals and shoes along with clip-on tri bars will help shave time off your bike splits.

Quintana Roo CD01 Dura Ace '11

Quintana Roo CD01 Dura Ace '11

Triathlon specific bikes have an aggressive riding position with a different handlebar set-up than traditional road bikes. Although they are more drag coefficient, handling and steering is affected meaning they’re less suitable for everyday use. Although slightly less aerodynamic, a road bike is the best option for a novice triathlete as it can comfortably and safely be used for both training & racing. The ‘Tri bike’ was first seen in the late eighties when Quintana Roo founder Dan Empfield developed the Superform, a revolutionary bike that rocked the triathlon world, helping Ray Browning set take a 30 minute lead off the bike at Ironman New Zealand. Quintana Roo’s new 2011 range is just as forward thinking today and starts at a competitive £1,500.

Remember to take a drink on your bike, and you might even want a snack for during the race depending on how far you’re going. Gels and energy bars are the best option, but remember to try them out in a prior training session! Don’t go off too hard, pace yourself and enjoy it. It will be tough, but then it wouldn’t be a challenge otherwise. So what next, further, faster, harder, longer…I told you it’s addictive!

Our pick of the bunch:

Event: Nottingham Triathlon
Date: 14 May 2011
Location: Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham
Distance: Sprint
The Race: A nice early triathlon to test yourself, with an open water swim and fast, flat course. With completely closed roads and a spectators viewing area, your friends and family can watch you enjoy a safe, traffic-free race!
Website: www.onestepbeyond.org.uk
Nearest EVANS CYCLES store: Nottingham, 20-22 Maid Marian Way, NG1 6HS. Tel: +44(0)1159 502 548

Event: The Bridge Triathlon
Date: 29th May 2011
Location: The Bridge, Dartford, Kent
Distance: Olympic
The Race: after a successful debut last year, the Bridge Triathlon has been selected as the first ITU World Championship Qualifier for Beijing 2011 but that’s not to put off novices as the race is open to anyone that would like to take part not just people trying to qualify for Beijing! A fast, flat multiple lap course make it spectator friendly, and there will also be exhibitor stands and a live PA to keep you informed of all the action!
Website: www.bridgetriathlon.co.uk
Nearest EVANS CYCLES store: Lakeside, Junction Shopping Park, West Thurrock, Essex, RM20 3HH. Tel: +44(0)1708 804988

Event: The Blenheim Triathlon
Date: 4th / 5th June 2011
Location: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock,
Distance: Super Sprint & Sprint
The Race: Held in the stunning location of Blenheim Palace, Woodstock this is one of Europe’s premier events. Racing around the private estate on closed roads, The Blenheim Triathlon is and safe and enjoyable event.
Website: www.theblenheimtriathlon.com
Nearest EVANS CYCLES store: Reading or Milton Keynes depending on where you’re coming from!

Event: The Dambuster Triathlon
Date: 18th June 2011
Location: Rutland Water, Leicestershire
Distance: Olympic
The Race: Now in its ninth year, the Dambuster Triathlon is well established and will be the National Age Group Championships for 2011 but you don’t have to be competing for British honors to race the Dambuster – all comers, from novice to elite are welcome! Its tried and tested course is challenging but takes in the spectacular Rutland scenery.
Website: www.pacesetterevents.com
Nearest EVANS CYCLES store: It’s right between our Nottingham and Leicester stores!

Event: Bristol Harbourside Triathlon
Date: 3rd July 2011
Location: Brunel Lock, Bristol, Somerset
Distance: Olympic
The Race: This event was piloted last year and after a roaring success is back in 2011 with an Olympic distance course. Organisers are promising a fast cycle route on closed roads, with the run course taking competitors along the the opposite side of the Avon Gorge affording great views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Website: www.bristoltrifestival.org
Nearest EVANS CYCLES store: Bristol, Lewins Mead, Bristol, Avon, BS1 2PY. Tel: +44(0)1179 277 639

Event: The London Triathlon
Date: 30th / 31st July 2011
Location: ExCeL Exhibition Centre, Royal Victoria Dock, London
Distance: Super Sprint, Sprint & Olympic distance races, as well as relay events.
The Race: The London Triathlon is the world’s largest and most iconic triathlon, sweeping through the City. With a variety of distances it’s open for all to take part, whether you’re a first timer, enthusiast, elite or even a team of 3!
Website: www.thelondontriathlon.co.uk
Nearest EVANS CYCLES store: Canary Wharf, 30 South Colonnade, London, E14 5EZ. Tel: +44(0)20 7516 0094

Event: Chateau de Chantilly (part of the Castle Triathlon Series)
Date: 28th August 2011
Location: Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, France
Distance: Super Sprint, Sprint Olympic
The Race: Falling over the bank holiday weekend, the French leg of the Castle Triathlon Series in the picturesque Chateau de Chantilly estate is a great event for the whole family. Held in the middle of summer with a variety of distances including relays and junior, and children’s races so why not load up the car and enjoy a continental break!
Website: www.castletriathlonseries.co.uk

Event: The Encap Arran Triathlon
Date: 10th / 11th September 2011
Location: The Island of Arran, Scotland
Distance: Olympic
The Race: the Arran Triathlon is a new event for 2011 and will be Scotlands largest triathlon with a field of 2000 entrants of all abilities from across the UK, and around the world. The Isle of Arran provides a superb setting for an event of this nature and is sure to be a great weekend for competitors, spectators and visitors. Their will be activities going on all weekend around the race site with an exhibitors area, catering, and a post race do for competitors. The islands extremely accessible with ferries running from Ardrossan, located some 40 minutes from Glasgow Airport and 20 minutes from Prestwick Airport. The organisers are putting on free shuttle-buses for competitors and are also running a bike transport facility from the SE of England!
Website: www.arran-tri.com
Nearest EVANS CYCLES store: Braehead – Glasgow, Unit 5, Xscape, Kings Inch Road, Renfrew, Scotland, PA4 8XQ. Tel: +44(0)141 886 4236

The scenice Island of Arran on Scotlands west coast

Event: Yorkshire Triathlon
Date: 19th September 2011
Location: Pugneys Country Park, Wakefield, Yorkshire
Distance: Super Sprint, Sprint & Olympic
The Race: Set in the beautiful Pugneys Park near Wakefield the swim is in the vast 100 acre lake used for watersports and as you mount the bike the course takes you through some superb Yorkshire countryside, culminating with an off road run back around the lake.
Website: www.myyorkshiretriathlon.co.uk
Nearest EVANS CYCLES store: With stores in Leeds City Centre (Tel: +44(0)113 246 9132 and Castleford (+44(0)1977 554 140) you’re never too far away froman Evans Cycles should you need us!