For many people, these past couple of years have likely been some of the hardest they’ve faced. And triathletes are no exception. We, too, have had a rough go of things. Plus, our identities are (too) often tied to our finish times, and we haven’t had many finish lines to cross, leaving a sort of existential question: If a triathlete trains and there are no finisher medals to confirm it, do they even make a sound? Fortunately, the pandemic has also provided many of us with some benefits that we might not even yet understand will help us in the future whenever this is eventually over. Let’s call them low-key pandemic tri-perks.
The motto of all triathletes everywhere is: “Why be excellent at one sport when you can be mediocre at three?” And when pools closed around the world, many triathletes filled that time with a new thing to be mediocre at: strength training. Gone are the days of triathletes walking around looking so thin that people think we’re stuck together with glue and pipe cleaners.
Besides the once-a-year Kona coverage and a few Ironman Live Facebook shows, we didn’t have much triathlon to follow on TV before. And while all triathlon is good triathlon, one can only spend so many hours watching Jan Frodeno solo a “race” before it gets boring. Challenge Daytona, the Collins Cup, and Super League proved that triathlon can be shown in different ways to razzle-dazzle new (and old) viewers and bring our great sport to the masses.
Making a bike purchase in 2021 has been like trying to capture a unicorn, but a huge number of the new bikes that did manage to get sold were gravel bikes. With so few races, triathletes sat up out of their aero positions and embraced adventure like never before. Chewing on some Vitamin G is good for the mind and soul, it builds bike strength, and is a much more fun way to spend hours than in the aero bars. Gravel is now here to stay, so get on board.
Yo, Yo, Yo, YouTube
When I first started uploading videos to YouTube, I was the only person putting out regular tri content. While there have been pros who tried out their vlogging skills since then, it wasn’t until the pandemic that we saw an explosion of triathlon YouTube channels. Now we get to peek into the lives of Lionel Sanders, Tim & Rinny, Eric and Paula’s “That Triathlon Life,” and Sam “Yo Yo Yo” Long. We get to see what their lives are like, and they get to speak directly to fans. It’s hard to imagine going back to a time of nothing but polished Instagram posts.
Frankly it was about time the world realized what we’ve known for years: Athletic loungewear should be an acceptable form of business attire. We can all rejoice in the fact that you can now show up to your next Zoom meeting in spandex and no one will even check their internet connection. But if you’re still wearing your helmet, that might raise some questions.