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Newbie bike shoe suggestions and saddle?
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Hi everyone! I have a couple questions about gear options, sorry for the long post.

I have joined a tri club and will be doing my first couple races this summer. In early January I bought my first road bike as a present to myself, and I have been riding it with sneakers and flat pedals so far. A LBS is offering new members of the tri club bike fits for half off, so instead of waiting until later this spring to buy clipless pedals/shoes, I am pulling the trigger now. I have speedplay pedals on order, and I visited them yesterday to pick out shoes with the plan to schedule the fit when the pedals come in. They were very helpful, but I am worried about getting regular road shoes versus tri shoes. They didn't have a large selection for tri shoes (only one or two pairs), and we settled on a pair of Specialized ember shoes with two velcro straps and the Boa ratchet system. I mentioned I was concerned about whether to leave the shoes on the bike during transition and slip my feet in after the mount line, or put the shoes on and run in them to the mount line. They didn't have a solid answer on which way to do it, so I feel uncertain. I can't tell if the shoes we picked out would be easy to slip into on the bike or not. I am also hesitant to order online without trying shoes on, since I don't know what I'm doing. But if that might be a better route in your opinion, let me know. Also, the other option is to shop around and try out different shops around the area for their tri shoe selection.

I am also having saddle issues, which I have been trying to research. The stock saddle with the bike has been awful, with numbing/bruising issues in the soft tissue area. So I've been looking at saddles with larger relief channels or possibly even the ISM saddles. I plan on putting clip on aerobars on my bike later in the season as I get more comfortable, so I want a saddle that can accommodate the more aggressive positioning. The LBS set me up on a Specialized power expert saddle after measuring my sit bones with a 30 day trial period: https://www.specialized.com/.../power-expert/105546 But on the ride home, it still felt pretty uncomfortable. I'm not sure if this might be due to leftover bruising from the old saddle, so I'm taking a few days off the bike and then going for a long ride this weekend. Again, the LBS was friendly but they are a Specialized retailer and I felt pushed to go for certain items. I asked their opinion about Cobb saddles (I used their online saddle selector), and their only response was how weird their saddles look. I live in a large city with an active tri club/community (this shop is a partner of the club), and I felt concerned about the lack of confidence in their advice. Do you all have any suggestions?
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Re: Newbie bike shoe suggestions and saddle? [TreeAthlete] [ In reply to ]
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Welcome! Exciting times. Congrats on everything so far - you are on your way.

Regarding the shoes, the trick is to get bike shoes that you can get on easily while your feet are wet, your head is spinning, you are out of breath, and you are in a massive hurry. 100% Velcro is a good idea - I like it better than the ratchets that twist. Fingers get fat and clumsy during a race. Also important is the finger loop at the heel so you can reach down and pull the shoe over your heel. I had road cleats forever (velcro) that didn't have the loop and it was a pain in the ass and I was always smashing the heel down, costing me precious time.

Regarding when to put them on, in all my years of racing I have never done a flying mount (where you leap onto the bike while it is in motion and your shoes are already clipped in). I always run in from the swim, get to my bike, put on my bike shoes (even if I'm running a long way through transition), put on my glasses, put on my helmet, unrack my bike and run like hell to the mount line, stop, swing my leg over, clip in the swing leg, and take off. My T1 time isn't bad, usually top 15% of racers. I woudn't even consider running barefoot and carrying my shoes to the mount line. The mount line is chaos. I don't know if you are a strong swimmer, but if you end up with the fast folks at the mount line you could get bulldozed by the folks doing a flying mount. Stopping to put shoes on at the mount line would be more chaotic and stressful.

Hope that helps....

Hillary Trout
San Luis Obispo, CA

Born a swimmer, borrowed a bike, laced up some runners, and the rest just fell into place for a solid MOP life.
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Re: Newbie bike shoe suggestions and saddle? [TreeAthlete] [ In reply to ]
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I guess I'll add this about LBS... You aren't alone with your concern about LBS and tri-knowledge. Do lots of homework online and go in and ask for what you want. I have the same experience in my town. Lots of great triathletes, not a lot of great local LBS options to support triathlon. Even the two shops that purport to be tri-friendly aren't excellent. And I'm needing to take my TT bike in for work and I'm sooooo nervous they'll f' it up.

That said, a lot of homework will get you a long way. For me, I did the trisports.com sample saddle and tried a few options. I'm pretty happy with the Cobb I ended up on. I've had so many saddles over the years, it just depends on how I'm riding. What I have today would NOT work if I was doing a full ironman, but it works for my OLY distance and mid-distance races.

I've certainly pleaded with the ST main forum for expertise and gotten some great advice. Just be aware that the ST main forum is a curious microcosm with a vast variety of opinion and degrees of engagement and self-filtering. I've learned that it takes some thick skin to engage in the main forum.

Hillary Trout
San Luis Obispo, CA

Born a swimmer, borrowed a bike, laced up some runners, and the rest just fell into place for a solid MOP life.
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Re: Newbie bike shoe suggestions and saddle? [SLOgoing] [ In reply to ]
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Thank you for your help! So there are road shoes with the loops out there? Or if the shoes have the loop, they are basically a tri shoe? I am fine with putting the shoes on at my bike spot, and then running in them to the mount line, my only concern was that I read that is not good for your cleats. Or is that only really an issue if you are doing a bunch of races? Does cleat type matter in that respect? Something I read said if you run on your speedplay cleats you could possibly get mud/rocks stuck in them, preventing you from clipping in. But, as a newbie, these may be the worst case scenarios I'm worrying about! Stupid question: Is there any advantage to having road shoes in training and tri shoes for racing?

Maybe I will shop around more with the other LBS in the area, especially concerning the saddle. I bought my bike from another shop in town based on research I did beforehand, and basically went in knowing exactly what I wanted. I have been trying my best to buy stuff in store to support local business, but if I they don't have what I'm looking for, I guess I can't feel bad about that. Which Cobb saddle are you using, if you don't mind me asking? I may try the trisports.com test saddle program.
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Re: Newbie bike shoe suggestions and saddle? [TreeAthlete] [ In reply to ]
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I'm pretty sure the loop makes it a tri shoe. I have the Specialized Trivent and it is a men's shoe, but it matches my bike and it fits AND it was on clearance so win-win. I actually hacked my old shoes (Sidi) and sewed on my own loops. That shoe was a MTB shoe so it was easier to run in. But, they bit the dust after 10+ years.

I haven't tried speedplay, but I haven't had problems with grit in my cleats. I even ran through super muddy grass and was worried that I wouldn't be able to clip in, but it worked fine.

Over time, I've ended up with several different shoes. I wear the shoes that fit the mood, honestly. Lately, I've been doing all my training and racing in my Trivents and its been fine. However, I did a Gran Fando in the rain in my Trivents and I regretted that because my pretty white shoes got dirty and aren't as white as they used to be. Nothing changed functionally, but it cramped my style.

Regarding saddles, I have a pretty aggressive drop on my tri-bike that puts me really far forward on the saddle - I'm on the very tip of the nose. On my road bike (which has clamp on aero bars) I'm <3cm drop. On my TT I'm on the Cobb 55. I tried the Randee, but didn't care for it. The Max was okay for me, but the 55 was the most comfortable. However, neither of those work for me on my road and I have 3 saddles I swap around depending on how far and how fast I'm going. So much of it depends on how far forward or back you sit on the saddle and how much your hips are rotated for a flat or round back.

Hillary Trout
San Luis Obispo, CA

Born a swimmer, borrowed a bike, laced up some runners, and the rest just fell into place for a solid MOP life.
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Re: Newbie bike shoe suggestions and saddle? [SLOgoing] [ In reply to ]
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Okay, I am going to shop around a bit more for shoes then. Once I settle on a pair I'll get the fit with the bike shop and have them mount the cleats, etc. I'm also hoping the fit will help me figure out where I sit on the saddle. I'm not sure if sit too far forward but I find myself trying to move back to sit comfortably in the relief channel. So maybe they just need to move the seat forward for me. I'll give the Specialized power saddle a few more rides to make a decision and if that doesn't work out, I'll try the trisports exchange program.
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Re: Newbie bike shoe suggestions and saddle? [TreeAthlete] [ In reply to ]
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Good luck!

Regarding fit... My LBS let me down... but SlowTwitch had tons of advice.... my story here:


http://forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/Slowtwitch_Forums_C1/Triathlon_Forum_F1/Got_fit%3B_YES_diggin_it..._NEW_FIT!!_P6085817/

Hillary Trout
San Luis Obispo, CA

Born a swimmer, borrowed a bike, laced up some runners, and the rest just fell into place for a solid MOP life.
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