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Penny Comins: Road to Kona #2
Posted by: Penny Comins
Posted on: Tuesday 13th May 2014


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After Ironman 16 attempts, Penny Comins is on her way to Kona in October 2014.

We introduced Penny in her first blog, and in this latest update she looks back on some early mistakes she made when starting out on her Ironman journer almost ten years ago. Now a little wiser, she's also - as triathletes typically do (!) - 'blinged' up her wheels in the process, and talks here about the joys of 'training heavy, racing light'.


The Road to Kona

Marginal gains was a concept Dave Brailsford brought to the media when launching Team Sky. It is now a common answer to why you have brought the latest wheels, turned down a muffin or decided to dodge the pub and go to sleep. Everyone is trying their own marginal gains.

Wheels are a great place to make huge gains. I train with a heavy set of winter wheels and 25mm tires. I race on ENVE 46mm full carbon wheels with Grand Prix TT tires. The difference when changing from training wheels and tires to race wheels and smooth, narrow, tires is phenomenal; a 400g weight change.

This is a centrifugal weight saving of 1.2kg and a significant resistance reduction. Put that over 180km and I have saved minutes just in a wheel and tire change. I can also get up to speed faster, stay there longer and be fresher for the run. Training heavier and then swapping my wheels out is a great lift that I look forward when hitting the taper too.

I have come along way with my kit since I completed my first Ironman in New Zealand in 2005. I had my Trek 1000 stead. I joked it was like the all-in-one shampoo conditioner on the market; it was my training bike, my race bike and my TT bike. I slapped on aero bars and was off. No bike fit or thought to aerodynamic positioning.

In race week I was offered a set of wheels from a guy in my training group who wasn’t competing. They were spiffing and looked fast. I shyly accepted and then big-noted around the neighbourhood with them on. Placebo effect in full force, I rode the bumpy course in just over seven hours. My neck was rigid as a brick when I got off from poor positioning. Later I found out that the cassette on the speedy wheels was a 10-speed and I only had nine gears on my Trek. No wonder it was jumping a bit!

Nine years on and 15 more attempts, I have tried a range of wheels for different courses with CycleOps Power hubs being my favourite. The feedback is what I need to keep a level head when my speed is decreasing in to the wind I don’t notice, or keep me on track when I am in cruise mode. It also tells my coach, Rob Dallimore, if I am tired or need pushing more.

Penny with here favourite PowerTap wheels

The fab thing about CycleOps wheels are the repair service. When it needs an upgrade or something technical you can book them in and they are super fast in returning your wheel; leaving you little time without the data. Dan Scott from Paligap took my training wheel in to give it a techno overhaul when I was visiting groovy Rocket and Rascals cycle-café in Plymouth over the weekend.

And yes, it is a 10 speed hub for my 10-speed bike!

Lesson learned over the years are always best from mistakes made...

Penny Comins


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