"A good tri bike can weigh about 18 lbs. with 18-plus gears, whereas a Bikeshare bike weighs about 40 lbs. with only three gears."
If you don't know what a triathlon is, it's (typically) an event encompassing a long swim, a long bike ride, and a long run. In other words, a real workout. The Nations First Triathlon in Washington, D.C., involved 1.5 km in the water, 40 km on two wheels, and 10 km on foot.
It's hard enough with proper equipment—and Jefferson Smith, who describes himself as a risk management professional from northern Virginia, knocked out the cycling portion on a bike from Capital Bikeshare, Washington's bike share program.
GOOD: How many triathlons have you finished?
JEFFERSON SMITH: Let's see... one. (Counting the one last weekend).
GOOD: Are you a regular Capital Bikeshare user?
SMITH: Not really, more of an occasional user.
GOOD: For readers who aren't triathletes, would you mind explaining why using a Bikeshare bike in a triathlon is pretty unusual?
SMITH: The heavier the bike, the more energy it takes to move. Elite triathletes try to go as fast as possible and win races. So lightweight, high performance gear meets their competitive needs. A good tri bike can weigh about 18 lbs. with 18-plus gears, whereas a Bikeshare bike weighs about 40 lbs. with only three gears.
GOOD: And so why in the world would you do it?
SMITH: To me, winning was less important. My goal was to get the best workout possible, have fun, and support two great organizations (the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Capital Bikeshare).
I am more of a swimmer. I haven't had a bike since I got my driver's license. I meant to get one for this race, but I guess I ran out of time. Then, I figured that the Bikeshare bike would provide a better workout and challenge me, so why not? It seemed like it would be fun.
GOOD: Was there a point at which you regretted it?
SMITH: I don't know which was more awkward, riding it or walking it around through the transition station. I didn't regret using it, but during the race, I swore to never do it again. I did get an emotional lift from all the smiles and comments that I got along the way though, and cheered a few folks up with my bell.
GOOD: Head-to-head, in a triathlon, do you think you could take Paul Ryan?
SMITH: In the water? Yes. In a bike race? Possibly, but only if we were both on Bikeshare bikes (I'm probably more experienced than he is with those). In a foot race? Not a chance. End result? Unlikely.
Photos courtesy of Jefferson Smith.