Frequently Asked Questions


What exactly is a triathlon?

A triathlon consists of Swimming, Biking, and Running in direct succession. Between each leg of the race there is a quick “transition” where you change any clothing and equipment if necessary. Traditionally, the swim portion takes place in an open water lake or in a pool. The bike is traditionally a loop on open roads. The run can be one of two loops around a set course. Transition areas are traditionally one location for both the T1 and T2 switches.

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I don’t have a decent bike. Can I still be on the team?

Absolutely! This year, we’ll have team bikes that we can lend to anyone who doesn’ t have one. And even if you do have a bike, but you’re not sure if you can race on it, don’t worry, any bike will do. Many triathletes start with a borrowed bike or old-school Huffy! As you start training, you may decide that you want to upgrade to a better bike. The only requirement for being part of the team is that the bike is in good working order, is safe, and that you wear a helmet. No matter what bike you use, you must wear a helmet on all rides and races.

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How do I find a new bike?

There are a number of options, depending on your price point, but I would like to reiterate that severe discounts are available through the Duke Triathlon Team Sponsorships. It would be worth every one’s time to hunt around all of the options listed below, BEFORE making a decision. In any event, I try to remind people that at the end of the day, endurance performance is all about the engine…but a good transmission really helps!

No matter what path you decide, purchasing a bike is a major financial decision with lasting consequences. Meaning; take the time to research options and educate yourself before purchasing a bike. On that note, guidance is below.

Research Guides:

  • Complete Tri has two great articles to help get you thinking: Give 5 Great Entry-Level Road Bikes a read, as well as Buying an Entry Level Triathlon Bike. Most of our athletes start out by buying a quality road bike, then buying a triathlon bike a few years into the sport. Bikeride.com also has a great listing with reviews and retail prices for each bike.
  • A great online forum for reviews and customer feedback can be found on www.roadbikereview.com. They offer information on the bikes, price paid, and components.
  • Local shops offer a lot of information, though sometimes the new terminology can be intimidating.
    Regardless, the ability to work with someone knowledgeable about bikes can offer a lot of support. Some local shops are: Durham Cycles (conveniently located on Ninth Street across from Duke’s East Campus), Inside Out Sports, The Bicycle Chain, Cycling Spoken Here, Performance Bicycles, Back Alley Bikes.
  • Bike Fitting Guide and helpful articles: http://www.bicycling.com, http://bicycling.about.com/od/howtoride/a/bike_sizing.htm
  • Our coaches, Margo and Paul, and the officers of Duke Triathlon/Duke Cycling are more than happy to answer further questions you may have about bike purchases.

Used Bikes:

  • The most likely location for a used bike purchase “deal” is raleigh.craigslist.org A WORD OF WARNING: if you are new to bike purchases, I would suggest consulting with an experienced rider BEFORE purchasing anything from Craigslist. I have seen people invest in a bike they thought was great, only to find out it was in need of major, hidden, repair. I would hate for anyone to invest in something they will not be able to use for at least a number of years. On the other hand, I have found some sweet bikes for crazy pricing. If you know what you want and keep a close watch, you could make out like a bandit!

New Bikes:

If you know you are dedicated to the sport, or want to upgrade to something a bit more performance oriented there are some online and local sources for consulting

  • Durham Cycles (located on Ninth Street, just across from East Campus) has replaced Inside Out Sports as our sole bike shop sponsor and offers a 15% discount on bike maintenance and merchandise for dues-paying Duke Triathlon Club member. Inside Out Sports is still located in Cary and offers a number of middle-to-high-end Triathlon specific or triathlon ready bikes. This bike manager in the shop, Mike Beaman, can provide a personal bike fit and answer any of your questions.
  • www.Parcycles.com is an on-line bike shop run by a local cyclist. We have organized a MAJOR discount option for the Duke Triathlon team. The bikes are sold with frame and parts separate. But individual purchases through the team are available at cost+10%. If you are interested in this option, I can personally assist you in setting up the order and groupo (shifters/brakes/wheels) set order.
  • Performance Bikes (www.performancebike.com) is a great local shop for cyclist to purchase an LOW PRICED ENTRY LEVEL BIKE. They offer some Triathlon Bikes, but mostly offer low cost discounts on road bikes with aerobars available for purchase. There is no formal sponsorship deal available through the team, but this shop works on low pricing and high-stock-turnover. If you check out the website and like the prices, you may be able to line up with a sale and get a great deal. I can personally vouch for the Fuji Bikes as lasting FOREVER. A Fuji Team was the first bike I ever bought and am still using it 6 years later…it just won’t die.
  • Other local shops are available for bike purchase. If you are looking for a particular brand or frame you can investigate Cycling Spoken Here (http://cyclingspokenhere.com/), or Grass Roots Bikes (http://web.mac.com/a100mark/Site_5/Welcome.html) Grass roots offers deals through the cycling team

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How long is each leg of a triathlon?

The distances vary quite a bit, depending on your goals. The collegiate National Championship race is Olympic distance,
which means a 0.93-mile (1.5 km) swim, 24.8-mile (40 km) bike and 6.2 mile (10 km) run. Most of our races, though, are Sprint distance,
which is approximately half of the Olympic distance. There are also longer races available, such as Half-Ironman distance races (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) or Full Ironman Distance Race (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run)

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Does the team travel?

Luckily, we have a high concentration of local races in the area. Local race series include (Finish Strong Series www.fsseries.com) and Setup Events (www.setupevents.com) races. Also, we are part of the new Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Triathlon Conference. This means we are able to race in local USA Triathlon designated Collegiate Races. For more information, please visit www.usatriathlon.com OR the mid-atlantic region website, http://www.usat-ma.org/

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Tell me a little about the people on the team.

The team comes from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some of us swam, biked or ran at some earlier time in our lives whether it be in middle school, high school, or in college. Few of us have had experience in all of the three sports, but have found a love for the sport of triathlons. The team is approximately evenly divided between men and women. There is also a wide range of ages on the club, from freshman and graduate students to campus professors and Duke Staff.

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Who is allowed to join?

All members of the Duke University community are welcome – that includes Faculty, Staff, Undergraduate Students, and Graduate Students.

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What other equipment do I need?

For swimming, you need a pair of goggles and a suit. For running, you just need a decent pair of running shoes. You can find all this equipment at local sports shops, such as Duke Triathlon Club sponsor, Inside Out Sports. Also, being part of the team, you are welcome to purchase a triathlon-specific uniform. For more information on what to wear in a race, read Complete Tri’s article Triathlon Clothing: What to Wear in a Triathlon. Their Ultimate Triathlon Race Day Checklist is also useful for making sure you do not forget anything on race day (i.e. race belt, cycling shades, etc.).

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I can’t really swim. Can I still be on the team?

Yes, at the beginning of the year, we offer a number of swim practices to help people with their swim technique and fitness. We focus on drills to practice and offer guidance on what it means to swim in open water. There is always a wide range of swimming abilities on the team, so no matter what your skill level is, we can help you on your way to being a triathlete!

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I’m pretty good at two of the sports, but I struggle in the third. Is that ok?

Yes, that’s what we’re here for! Being part of the club, we will teach you the basics of swimming, biking, and running and help you with any of the events you show particular weakness in. Everyone has at least one weakness in the sport of triathlon. We are here to help you improve in all three, even if you already have a strong background in one of the events, improvement is always possible.

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When are practices?

Practice times may change on a yearly schedule: see the Practice Schedule for an up-to-date record.  During the academic year, we try to offer 3 to 4 formal team practices per week. We aim for one Brick workout a week, which involves a bike ride followed immediately by a short run. Also, there is a weekly track workout at the Wallace Wade Track. In general, weekday practices will be in the evenings after class, and weekend practices (such as bike rides and runs) will be in the morning on weekends.

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How much of a time commitment is it?

In short, however much you want to dedicate! The standing team policy is that your number-one priority is to focus on your academic work. Triathlons can be a wonderful stress outlet and lifelong fitness. The amount of time you spend with the team depend on your schedule and available time. Naturally, we encourage you to come to as many practices as possible (company always helps), but really it is all about what you want to do within the sport!

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What is the Duke Triathlon “Team” Versus “Club?”

The Duke Triathlon Team is a subset of the Duke Triathlon Club. Though all members are welcome to group workouts and packet information, the Duke Triathlon Team receives weekly workouts schedules for people to follow. The Team is NOT only meant for “the fast” people. Instead, we like to think of the team as a way for students to not have to worry about planning their own training plan. Instead, our head coaches will be supplying workouts to progress the team’s fitness for a mid April Race. This corresponds with a local “A” race for the team and Collegiate Nationals.

Both groups are welcome to take advantage of the club sponsorship discounts and race entry fee reductions.

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What are the requirements to join the Club?

In order to be a member, we have a club membership due of $350/year. We accept payment anytime, but encourage members to follow the annual payment deadlines for establishing a roster. This money is used to subsidize race entry fees and travel expenses so it is actually an incredible value!

Does the team hang out together outside of practice?

Definitely. We periodically have team parties and social functions, perfect for team bonding. After the team April race, we hold a function at a local restaurant/pub to celebrate. In generally, we want to emphasize team cohesion and camaraderie. Triathlon has a history of being an individual sport, but everyone knows that we have more fun together as a team.

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How do I get help if I need it?

Subscribe to the triathlon mailing list to get all the team announcements. Check out the other links on the website. Finally, if you have any additional questions, please email the officers at duketriofficers@googlegroups.com

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