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The triathlon community was thrilled to learn that Julie Dibens–absent from competition since undergoing concurrent foot and knee surgeries following the 2011 Ironman World Championship–would take part in the upcoming Amgen Tour of California time trial on May 17. For this week’s Dispatch, I invited Dibens out for a cookie and a chat to learn how she got involved with the race, how her training is coming along and when we might hope to see her back in three-sport competitive action.
Triathlete.com: This is really exciting news! How did it all come about?
JD: There was a time trial in Ft. Collins about a month ago, so I did that and I was telling the guys at Trek how I did. They said, “We just got Katie Compton [a Trek cyclocross athlete] into the Tour of California to do the time trial. You should see if you could get in.” I said, “That would be awesome!”
Triathlete.com: Have you ever ridden a straight time trial before?
JD: I did some time trials back in the U.K., but Ft. Collins was my first one in the U.S. I contacted the race director–well, actually I got Mike to do it [Dibens’ husband]–and he said it doesn’t matter who you are, you have to start in Cat 4 as a newbie. I thought that was fair. I just wanted to do a race because I hadn’t done one in so long, so I didn’t really care where they put me.
Triathlete.com: How’d you do?
JD: It went well. I had the fastest women’s time.
Triathlete.com: Were you accused of sandbagging?
JD: Well, Cam Dye did it as well, and he came in second overall for the men. I heard that some people got a bit bothered—I guess they’re kind of sick of triathletes rocking up. But I did what I did—I asked the race director and that’s what he told me to do, so I couldn’t do anything else.
So after that, Franko [Vatterott, Dibens’ manager] got on the phone and worked his magic and managed to get me into the Tour. I don’t think it was easy but he talked to the right people. I was in L.A. when Chrissie [Wellington] did the time trial and I remember thinking then how cool it would be. I think she was just unfortunate in the year that she did it because the course didn’t suit her. This course is 19.5 miles and it’s rolling with a climb at the end, so it should be fun. And I’m just excited to test myself against some of the best girls.
Triathlete.com: Do you know much about the other competitors?
JD: I’ve heard some of the names. I mean I’ve always followed it a little but, but I literally have no idea how I’m going to do. I mean no idea. So it will be kind of fun to do something like that.
Triathlete.com: But seriously–are you ready to show those single sport cyclist girls how it’s done?
JD: [Laughing] I’m going to try! But I literally have no idea!
Triathlete.com: Absolutely no idea? Like you could potentially kick their *$$es, you could come dead last or you could land somewhere in the middle?
JD: Yeah! I mean I don’t think I’m going to kick their *$$es, and I also don’t think–I mean I think I could be competitive, but I really don’t know.
Triathlete.com: You must be pretty excited to get back to competition.
JD: It’s been so much fun just to have a goal. The last goal I had was Kona 2011, so to actually have some structure to my training is really fun. I noticed it last year when I would ride–I would just go out and do whatever workout whoever I was riding with was doing. Like if I was riding with Rinny and it got really hard I would think: Why am I doing this? There’s no goal. Why am I here hurting myself? So I think it kind of highlighted how you need to have that motivation to get a lot of the really hard work done. It was a lot of fun last year in many ways because I didn’t have structure and I could kind of do what I wanted, but I really missed having that goal and that regimented training. And I don’t want to get embarrassed, so I’m definitely changing up my training to be more specific for this. I also think it has come at a great time for me. I’ve started running and I’m up to 25 minutes now, but I think if I didn’t have that specific bike goal it would be easy for me to get carried away running. I would bump it up to 30 and 40 minutes and I’d probably try and be at an hour within a month. Now that I’ve got this bike goal it’s a great time for me to focus on the biking but phase the running back in slowly.
Triathlete.com: What is the latest with your recovery–and will we see you back on a triathlon start line soon?
JD: I hope so, but I can’t set or I don’t want to set a goal. I mean I have one in the back of my mind–I’d love to get to Vegas. All I need to do is validate, so in the back of my mind I think about whether I can get ready for Boulder 70.3. I just need to finish it, so I just need to be able to run 13.1 miles without doing any damage. I still get some swelling with my knee. It’s very much day to day and I think that’s the way it’s probably always going to be. But as I’ve learned, I can wake up in the morning and have swelling and I can ride my bike fine, I can even run fine. The doctors and all the PT’s say that as long as I don’t have pain and I can manage it, then it’s OK.
Triathlete.com: Will we perhaps see you take on more pure cycling events?
JD: Potentially. I think we’ll just see how this goes first. But I’ve thought about it for many years. The last time I was seriously injured, back in 2005 after the Athens Olympics, I sat down with the British Cycling guys and talked about it. I was willing to do it, but I wasn’t willing to give up triathlon. They related it to Paula Radcliffe. They said, “If you wanted to run and you were Paula Radcliff you wouldn’t be out swimming and cycling every day. You can’t expect to race at the very top level in a single sport while still doing the other stuff.” And I wasn’t willing to give up my dream as a triathlete. And while I still have those goals, if I can combine the two, then sure.
Triathlete.com: I have one final question for you. Could you possibly be the person to bring cycling back into a positive light, given all the bad press a number of cyclists have earned in recent years?
JD: I would love to! But the first step is just going out and not getting my *$$ kicked. Flying the flag for triathletes in the cycling world and not embarrassing myself! Then let’s take it from there.
– Julie Dibens To Compete In Tour Of California Time Trial
– One-Of-A-Kind Ride: Julie Dibens’ Trek Speed Concept
– Julie Dibens: “It’s Been A Hard Year”
– Julie Dibens’ Role In Mirinda Carfrae’s Kona Prep