Time Trial or Road Bike?

Rob Cummins Ironman Bike

In this episode of The Kona Edge we are joined once again by Eulali Gouws and chat about the differences between road bikes and time trial bikes.

We also find out what keeps her motivated on the long, 180km Ironman bicycle rides.

(Read the transcription of our chat here)

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Podcast Transcription:


BRAD BROWN:  Welcome back onto this edition of The Kona Edge, I’m Brad Brown, it’s great to have you with us and we head back to Johannesburg in South Africa to catch up with our next guest. Eulali Gouws, welcome back onto the podcast.


EULALI GOUWS:  Thanks Brad, nice to be back.


BRAD BROWN:  Eulali, last time we spoke about your swim and you said one of the ways you reward yourself with the swim is saying you have to finish this and then you get to do the stuff you love, which is biking and running. Which one do you love more, the bike or the run?


EULALI GOUWS:  I must say the run. I think because I’m so good at it! I love riding my bike as well. There’s nothing better than that feeling of the wind in your hair or through your helmet.


BRAD BROWN:  You said to me in our first chat that you decided to do a cycle race in Joburg which is known as the 947, it’s the second biggest time cycling event in the world. Did it come pretty easy to you? You sounded like you just picked up a bike and went hey, this is pretty cool, I dig this?


EULALI GOUWS:  Yes, Brad, I picked up a bike the month before the cycle race. The cycle race is always in November, the October I got a bike and decided I’m riding 90km and it came so easily. People were surprised by the time I did it in and it was just, I just loved it from the start. I must be honest, my bike handling skills were not the best but you quickly learn in 90km how to open an energy bar with one hand if you’re really hungry! It just came so naturally and from there I can be honest with you, I actually did my first Ironman on a road bike and not a time trial bike because the sport is expensive, you don’t always know if you’re going to love it and want to do another Ironman. My first ever Ironman I did on a road bike.


BRAD BROWN:  I’m so glad you brought that up because that’s a question that gets asked so often, in various forums. I get that via email, people saying, “Do I need a tri bike?” You see it in Facebook groups, you see it on forums, you’ve done it on both now. You’ve done it on a road bike, you’ve done it on a time trial bike, the TT bike obviously makes a big difference, you talk about free speed, it definitely makes a big difference. Are you glad that you did that, you went the road bike? How big a difference does it actually make? Do you think you should have done the TT bike first time around?


EULALI GOUWS:  No, you know what? It really depends on the course. There’s actually some Ironman courses out there where they advise you to use a road bike instead of a time trial bike. The PE course is quite flat and you can pick up some nice speed, so the time trial bike is ideal for that. I only thing I found with the road bike, there’s so much pressure on your shoulders and your arms get quite tired whereas the TT bike you can rest on your elbows and get more aerodynamic. I’m actually glad I did it on my road bike the first time because I really, I signed up for Ironman, I coached myself and I didn’t know if I’m going to like it. I thought, I just want to see if I’m good at this distance and how does it feel and if I hate it, then I don’t want to be stuck with this TT bike that I’m never going to use again.


BRAD BROWN:  Talk to me about wrapping your head around 180km first time around? Self-coached, so it’s a long way. For someone who is listening to this who is just starting out in the sport and maybe they’ve done an sprint, an Olympic, 180km is far.


EULALI GOUWS:  No, it’s ridiculous. I didn’t even train to ride 180km and I must be honest, on race day my parents were tracking me and I was going okay for the first 90km because I was used to that and then if you know Ironman PE, it’s a two lapper, so starting on my second lap of 90km I was still going fine for the 45km out, but on the 45km back my time dropped significantly. After the race finished, my parents actually asked me, “Did you have a flat tyre, what happened?” I said, “No, I just got tired.” It’s an Ironman; I got tired, it’s normal! Because 180km, it’s really far if you’re not used to it. I think now that I’ve done four Ironman’s in total, my body is more used to it, but it’s really something, it’s muscle memory, your body has to get used to the 180km otherwise it’s so difficult. So many of the guys that train with me have come to me and said, “We don’t know how you do it because we want to do an Ironman, but 180km is just so far.”


BRAD BROWN:  That last third Eulali is also, as much as it’s physical and you’ve got to be fit to be able to do it, it’s very much a mental thing to keep pushing when you’re tired. Once you hit 120km, 130km, 140km, how do you deal with the mental side of it in the latter part of each of the disciplines, particularly the bike and the run?


EULALI GOUWS:  I’m lucky, I’m very good at motivating myself, so to focus my mind on the bike, I look at my watch and focus on my nutrition. Every half an hour, take some nutrition in and then when I get to that dark space around 140-150km, I tell myself, you know what? You’re almost there, it’s just a marathon to go, which is also actually not quite that motivating! If I think back at my Kona race, I started looking around me and just thinking where you are and what you’re doing and the thing in Hawaii is it’s so beautiful. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful scenery out on that bike course and you just remind yourself, you know what? You’ve come this far, you can do another 30km, it’s just 30km. In my mind I always tell myself, that’s shorter than the 5150, it’s not even a 5150 left, so you can do this, you can do this.


BRAD BROWN:  Favorite workout on the bike, what do you enjoy doing?


EULALI GOUWS:  I must say I love bike sets on my indoor trainer. I’ve got a coach who is quite creative, so I’ve got one of these fancy Wahoo KICKRs and he works out these incredible difficult sets for us to do on a bike. I just love sitting on the bike and doing some of them. They involve, they keep your mind busy. He’ll put in some one minute sprints, some 30 second sprints, then some hill climbs, three minutes at your FTP, mixing it up and that’s some of my favorite sets. Going out on a Saturday, riding 160-170km is not always my favorite thing.


BRAD BROWN:  Eulali it’s been great catching up once again, I look forward to talking a little bit about your run next time out and what makes it so strong, but we’ll save that for next week. Thanks for your time today.


EULALI GOUWS:  Thank you Brad, nice chatting to you.

About Us

Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).

Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.

He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.


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