Built specifically for the
hilly course at the Ford Ironman 70.3 St. Croix, age group
Tom Demerly's 2008 Cervelo P3C with SRAM Red in full race
As bike courses in triathlon become
more technical there are more opportunities for improvement
with the specific equipment and the right set-up for a given
A perfect example is the bike course
of the Ford Ironman 70.3 St. Croix Triathlon.
St. Croix is one of the most difficult
courses on the international Ford Ironman 70.3 circuit with
a mix of tough hills, frequent cornering, unstable weather
and constant headwinds and rough pavement along with road
hazards like wild animals. St. Croix is best known for one
climb: The Beast. The Beast rises 600 feet in about seven
city blocks with an average gradient of 14 percent and a short
section labeled on the road at 27 percent. While the excitement
of the St. Croix bike course centers on The Beast the entire
course is challenging and surrounded by exotic beauty.
People go to St. Croix because
it is so beautiful- and so challenging. Like no other 70.3
Race, the Ford Ironman 70.3 St. Croix race is a graduation
exercise to world class triathlon. With the difficult, technical
course completing St. Croix is a major accomplishment for
triathletes of all levels.
Red 10-speed carbon fiber bar end shifters.
B. SRAM Red carbon
fiber brake levers.
C. Blackwell Research Wrist
Relief carbon fiber aero extensions, custom
D. Pro Missile carbon fiber
base bars, 42 cm wide.
E. Pro Thor Hushovd stem,
120mm, 10 degree rise.
F. Selle San Marco Zoncolan
Triathlon titanium rail saddle.
G. Zero Gravity NG-Ti brake
H. Zipp Sub-9 tubular disk
I. SRAM Red 11-26
J. SRAM Red rear derailleur
with ceramic bearing pulleys.
K. SRAM Red 110mm B.C.D.
compact crankset, 175mm with 50/34 chainrings.
RXS Carbon Pedals
M. SRAM Black Box ceramic
bearing bottom bracket.
N. Zipp 808 tubular 80mm
deep front wheel.
O. Continental Sprinter Gatorskin
700 X 22mm tubular (sew-up) tires.
P. Cateye Strada Wireless
Q. New 3T Funda Pro carbon
fiber aerodynamic fork.
R. SRAM Red front derailleur.
Bike set-up plays a significant
role on a course as technical as St. Croix. Here is a close
look at the bike and course specific set-up used by age grouper
Tom Demerly of Bikesport at the 2008 Ford Ironman 70.3 St.
Croix Triathlon on May 4th.
Gearing plays a critical role on
climbs like The Beast and the rest of the heavily rolling
course at St. Croix. The official Ford Ironman 70.3 St. Croix
website athlete’s guide recommends a 39/26 minimum low
gear for “accomplished” cyclists to use on The
Beast. Demerly is 46 and has been racing triathlons 25 years
and is a multi-time USCF/USA Cycling State Champion on the
road and in time trials.
“I’m a competent road
cyclist if not a particularly strong one, but I am a bit heavy
for being a good climber at 155 pounds.” As a result
Demerly specified a 34/26 low gear for the 2008 Cervelo P3C
he used at St. Croix. The bike was built with the SRAM Red
component kit, the only component group available with a 10
speed, 11-26 cogset. The SRAM Red OG 1090 cogset is machined
out of a single forged steel billet heat treated to make it
harder and stiffer. This unusual, semi-one piece construction
makes the top cogs of the unified cogset stiffer and the alignment
of the cogs more precise making shifting much quieter, smoother
and more repeatable especially in the larger cogs for climbing
where some cogsets have degraded shift performance.
Specific gearing for "The
Beast" with a 34/26 low end gear.
“Every component kit shifts
well across the 11, 12 and 13 tooth cogs. It’s in the
low gear range on the big cogs where you usually have shifting
problems. SRAM Red has consistent shifting across a very wide
range of gearing. It’s unique in that respect. It shifts
better in the easy gears across the largest cogs than anything
I’ve ridden.” This feature of SRAM Red makes it
ideal for nailing difficult shifts while climbing.
The one piece SRAM Red 11-26 10
speed cogset was combined with the new SRAM Red 110 millimeter
bolt pattern, compact SRAM Red crankset turning a 50 tooth
large chainring and a 34 tooth small ring. This drivetrain
provides a wide range of gearing with a 50/11 top gear and
very low 34/26 low gear perfect for ascending The Beast.
The new Pro Missile base
bar with Wrist Relief extensions.
A bike intended for a hilly course
needs to be reasonably light but not at the cost of strength,
stiffness and mechanical function. The final weight on Demerly's
P3C with race wheels was "About 15 pounds". A key
concern on any technical bike course is rider comfort. These
agendas are contrasted against the need for aerodynamic rider
position. The cockpit has to be light, provide precise, stable
handling on twisting, wet roads and bad pavement and support
an aerodynamic riding posture. This P3C’s cockpit is
the Shimano distributed Pro Missile Flat one piece, carbon
fiber time trial bar combined with Blackwell Research’s
Wrist Relief carbon fiber extensions.
“We had a difficult time
sizing the cockpit and in the end, at St. Croix, it wasn’t
at its best. The extensions remained a bit long. The mechanics
cut the extensions down no less than four times to reach a
short enough length and get the bends in the right place.
We’ve only recently got it right after trimming both
the front and rear of the extensions and remounting the shifters.
Now it is the best aero cockpit I’ve ever held.”
The Blackwell Research Wrist
Relief Extension cut to match forearm length.
The saddle is a new Selle San Marco
Zoncolan Triathlon. Named for an Italian Ski Station with
a brutish climb over 10 kilometers long at an average gradient
of 17% this saddle is a rare breed of lightweight, climbing
specific equipment adapted specifically for triathlon use.
Most Triathlon saddles are laden with extra padding driving
their weight up. The Selle San Marco Zoncolan only has extra
padding where needed. The result is a light, tolerable saddle
with trim good looks.
The Selle San Marco Zoncolan
Stopping power and braking response
on winding, rolling courses, especially in bad weather, is
a must. The bike yields on a pair of excellent Zero Gravity
NG-Ti binders with carbon specific pads to reel in the Zipp
808 front wheel and Zipp Sub 9 rear disk.
“We tried a few brake calipers
with the new SRAM Red carbon fiber aero brake levers and the
Zero Gravity calipers worked best. I’m not a confident
descender so I really wanted a combination that felt like
it was easy to slow and stop the bike- even on wet roads.”
Zero Gravity NG-Ti Brake
Calipers with Carbon Fiber specific pads.
While it is the athlete and not
the bike that makes the ride Demerly’s P3C performed
perfectly at St. Croix and the set-up confirmed itself as
optimal on a very tricky course.
Demerly went light on his set-up
for nutrition, hydration and spares for the hilly 70.3 course
in St. Croix. "I didn't bother with spares at St. Croix
since I was using the Continental Gatorskin tires."
The Gatorskins are heavy but negate
the need for carrying a spare tire and CO2 inflator so the
net result is they save weight. Relying primarily on aid stations
on the course Demerly used only a single lightweight, carbon
fiber bottle cage. "Any Ford Ironman 70.3 bike course
is well-catered. You can get everything you need during the
race on the course so there isn't much point in lugging it
all up a huge climb." Demerly took a bottle exchange
at each of the four aid stations on the course.
The Beast at mile 21 on Ford Ironman 70.3 St. Croix bike
“I didn’t have
a great day but my bike ran perfectly and I ran well off the
bike. It was a good exploratory trip to St. Croix and this
is the set-up I’d use again. This is my second season
on the P3C. It’s the racer’s bike.”