Age group triathletes* must be the sports marketers’ equivalent of a wet dream: average sportspeople all trying to buy speed across three different sports.
Typically speed comes in the way of being either lighter or more streamlined, and typically speed is not cheap.
The initial cost for setting yourself up with the minimum amount of kit to be able to compete in a triathlon is something along these lines:
Bike Shoes $100
Running trainers $100
Tri suit $50
Expensive, but not exactly cost prohibitive. But once you start talking about buying equipment that is designed to make you faster, that’s when the real money enters the equation.
To give you an idea of just how much money I am talking about, I found this chart which tells you how much of a difference certain pieces of kit make over a 40 km cycling time trial, or TT for short.
Essentially for the purpose of this post, all you need to look is the equipment, the cost, and the cost per second saved. Those seconds don’t come cheap. And that’s just for the cycling part of the race.
But people can and will spend that kind of money, in spite of the fact that the majority of them (myself included) will never get anywhere near the top 20% of their age group, never mind winning anything. And if my experience is anything to go by, this is why:
1. I don’t want to lose to someone purely because they spent more money than me. It’s like a lycra based arms race
2. If you spend hours training each week, all of a sudden some extra dollars for additional speed doesn’t seem like such a bad trade off
3. The more expensive it is, the cooler it looks. Always.
Since starting triathlon, packages from Wiggle (like Amazon, but with loads more bike stuff) arrive in the reception at work with alarming frequency. So frequent, my account has been upgraded to platinum.
But it’s not only that I spend money on tri gear, I also spend time planning what future money I want to spend on tri gear. A case in point being the current bike I wish I had, the BMC TM01, which is the very same bike that Cadel Evans rode in the Tour de France.
I already have a time trial bike. I bought it less than 6 months ago and it has only been raced twice since. I am also (almost) entirely happy with my current bike. But that doesn’t stop me spending imaginary money on bikes.
And if it wasn’t triathlon, it would be something else. For me it used to be house and techno nights, high top trainers and collectable toys. Some of my mates spend all their money on music equipment, production software or clothes. Horses for courses and all that.
Compared to what I might spend my money on, it could certainly be a lot worse. At least this way I am spending money on a habit that contributes to my fitness and keeps me excited about getting up at ridiculous o’clock in the morning to go for a bike ride / run / swim.
So until I find my next fixation, I am likely to carry on doing my bit to ensure that the sports equipment market remains buoyant in these uncertain economic times.
*Anybody who is not a professional athlete. Professional athletes don’t need to buy their kit; they are so fast that people give it to them for free. I wish I was that fast. I am not.