Saturday, January 28, 2017

New Species Among Us: The DANIMAL Dan Trott

At the risk of creating an avalanche of public panic, we feel it's our duty to inform you that a new species recently crossed our borders undetected. Researchers still aren't 100% sure what it is exactly, although it is generally known to be some type of ferocious water-to-land mammal...

Due to lack of full understanding, it is referred to only by its code name:


Always the curious one, I set out to learn more. After days in the wilderness tracking the Danimal in its natural habitat, I eventually located and cornered the hissing creature in a grove of trees.

Armed with only a pocket knife, here was the interrogation that followed:

and here it is... the moment I spotted the Danimal in his natural environment

What’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

I started swimming at age 8 in the Sundance summer swim league in Albuquerque, NM. This is where I got the nickname "Danimal" by the way. When I was 12 I was a head taller than any of the other kids so one of the parents on my team started calling me The Danimal. The legend has only grown since. I continued with swimming until my freshman year of college where I swam at Cal State Northridge. To tell the truth, at age 18 I probably wasn't mature enough yet to leave home and I didn't particularly enjoy my experience there for a number of reasons so I transferred back home to the University of New Mexico (Go Lobos!). One of my UNM classmates was doing a local triathlon and convinced me to join him. At this point I had quit swimming and was kind of primed for some sort of activity where I could stoke the competitive fires again and triathlon was something I always kind of wanted to try. I did the swim in a speedo, put on baggy basketball shorts and a cotton t-shirt for the rest of the race and did the bike leg on my mountain bike. I was hooked immediately. I went out, bought a road bike and some Lycra the next week and did 3 more races that summer. As I got more serious I raced and trained with the UNM triathlon team and later the Texas A&M triathlon team while I was in grad school.

What was the training schedule / volume like at the collegiate swim level? Did you enjoy it or was it a recipe for burnout?

To tell the truth, neither of my coaches in high school or college were real "pile the miles" types. We would usually swim mornings on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and every afternoon with a pretty long session on Saturdays. As I recall, I don't think I had too many days over 12,000 yards, which is not uncommon for good distance swimmers. I was definitely not burned out after I quit swimming. In fact as I alluded to before I still needed some sort of training and competitive outlet and that's how I found triathlon. I think swimming just revealed my inner exercise junkie.

What brought you to Utah, and where did you move here from?

We moved here in the fall of 2014 so that I could do a postdoctoral fellowship in the Translational Vascular Physiology Lab at the U. We actually just published a study that I'm pretty proud of, showing that exercise can reduce the inflammation that occurs around arteries with age, which is obviously good news for your readership.

We came here from Nashville where I spent some time working at Vanderbilt. Since we are originally from Albuquerque my wife and I are happy to be back to dry air and mountains after a couple stops in the south.

the Danimal at RockCliff

Whereabouts do you live, and do you train mainly solo or with others?

We are in Holladay right now. My wife and I run together with our 3 year old son riding in the stroller (sometimes more happily than others). I also swim with Gwenael Layec, a great triathlete, who I work with. He's also gotten me into cross county skiing this winter. I do some mountain biking with a couple guys from our church, City Presbyterian. I am looking for a good road riding group so if anybody out there is willing to put up with my bad jokes a couple hours into a ride, drop me a line.

If you were doing triathlons in your former state(s), what are some differences you notice between the Utah scene and the others? What are your thoughts in general after a season under your belt here?

Yeah, I've been fortunate to race in the four-corners states as well as Texas and the South. The weather is a million times better and the courses are more interesting in the West!

On the flip side, in Texas and the South you can probably race 30 weekends out of the year if you really wanted to because the weather is warm. Your wetsuit also collects a lot of dust because the swims are usually lukewarm bath water temperature. Even with a swim background my first couple high altitude, cold water swims in Utah were a shock to the system!

I found the fields to be somewhat more competitive in Texas and the South. I imagine that is partly because there are more large population bases in close proximity. I also have a theory that in Utah we lose some would-be triathletes to cycling and mountain biking because the riding here is so great. Overall, I'd say there are great people and great races all over the country.

We have you in our results as doing 4 local Olympics in 2016: Rockcliff (5th overall), DinoTri (5th overall) , Echo (15th overall), and Jordanelle (4th overall). What was your favorite thing about each of those races individually, and your favorite race overall?

Yeah, it was a pretty solid season. I also had an illustrious 165th place overall finish at the Xterra Pan Am championships in Ogden, that is where I learned that I am a subpar mountain biker. To answer your question though, the venue for Rockcliff and Jordanelle is a perfect setting for a triathlon. The swim, bike course and the off road run are awesome. For Jordanelle I had some friends from Texas visiting Nathan Poland and Alicia Allen, we camped out at Rockcliff the night before and they managed to win the men's and women's overall, respectively, so that was a fun day (if I hadn't invited them I'd be on the podium, ha!). DinoTri has a fantastic swim and bike course with some serious climbing and a great Tshirt (my son loves the dinosaur). Overall, my favorite was probably Echo for the combination of great course and competitive field.

the Danimal at DinoTri

You’re a threat to be first out of the water at any race you enter. I’ve heard guys like pro Andy Potts say they love this position, but I’m too slow of a swimmer to know… what’s it like to be “the hunTED” vs. “the hunTER” during a race?

Oh yeah! It is a total rush coming out the water first and leading the bike. Unfortunately my dreams of being Andy Potts come crashing down every race sooner or later, some times spectacularly! One of these days I hope to hold 'em all off until the end and win one.

You’re no slouch on the bike and run either. How has the progression from swimmer to triathlete been?

Well, I am a big boy so cycling and running are a little more challenging than in the water where I don't have gravity to contend with. The best thing about cycling and running is being able to exercise with scenery other than the black line on the bottom of the pool. Probably the biggest factor in my improvement in cycling and running was the opportunity to train with my grad school buddies Pat Dougherty and Nate Poland, the Texas A&M Triathlon Team and the Brazos Valley Cyclists. College Station, TX is a surprisingly great triathlon town.

What are your race plans for 2017?

I'm signed up for Icebreaker since that looks like it usually has a great field. I had my eye on St. George 70.3 but it turns out our second child is due the same day! With the new baby, racing this summer may be a bit more hit or miss but I hope to do Echo and Jordanelle and the Xterra Pan Am race.

Anything else you want to share?

Thanks so much for having me, I really like what you are doing with the site. I especially enjoyed your interview with the old school Utah race directors. I have always loved off-the-radar local races. Maybe I'll make a "Make Local Races Great Again" hat for myself this season ;).

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Don't Pee in the Pool!" Interview with Trinity Schimbeck

Get to know Trinity Schimbeck, a St. George high school student who doubles as one of the fastest teenage triathletes in the country.

Thanks for the time, Trinity!


How’d you get into this crazy sport at such a young age?

I started off on a club swim team and loved it. My Dad had participated in a triathlon before I ever started into the sport and he thought I would enjoy it so he had me enter into a local race here in St. George. I ended up winning my age group and fell in love with the sport. I even had a little competition with my Dad after that to see if I could beat him in a race. That challenge really motivated me to train harder during my first couple of years in triathlon.

Living in St. George, how did you connect with BAM, and how has the BAM FAM helped with your progression?

I heard about BAM through a local bike shop and another BAM athlete (Tucker Hathaway). Living in St. George is a little more difficult when it comes to being coached, but Wes and all the other BAM coaches handle it like pros. Last summer I was able to train at the BAM facilities for 3 weeks and it was really nice to be around other athletes with similar goals and to have some teammates.

unnamed (1).jpg

What have been your 3 favorite moments so far in your triathlon career?

Kokopelli Triathlon 2013 - This was the first race I ever took overall female in. I was really excited and prepared before the race and after I was so happy to see my hard work had payed off.

Youth Elite Nationals 2016 - Taking 16th at Nationals and seeing my improvement from the year before!

Being Ranked #1 in my age group for non-draft legal racing this past year was another highlight of my season that I was totally not expecting!

2016-05-21 09.57.53.jpg

In terms of local races, for 2016 we see you did Icebreaker (1st overall female), Sand Hollow sprint (1st overall female), and Echo sprint (2nd to only Mighty Megan Foley). What were your thoughts on your 2016 season overall?

My 2016 season went really well if I do say so myself :) I had a ton of fun racing in the local races and I was also able to go to three draft legal races this season as well. Funny story about Echo- My dad, brother and I drove up to the reservoir the day before the race and we were planning on staying the night in a campground close by. Traffic was horrible so we didn’t even get there until midnight and we couldn’t find the campground so we had to sleep in our truck on the side of the road.


If my sources are correct you run cross country & track AND swim for Desert Hills high school.  I did some research and see you ran an impressive 19:25 at the state xc meet and improved a ton from last year. How did the cross country season go overall, and how is the swim season going? What events do you swim?

The cross country season went great! We took second at state which is the best our girls team has ever done. I actually have a funny story about that xc state improvement from last year. Last year, I unfortunately broke my leg a month before state and so I was in a walking boot from then until about 4 days before the state meet. Needless to say it was definitely not my fastest race :)

High school swimming is going on right now and I swim the 200 and the 500 freestyle and hopefully a relay at state.


What are your triathlon, running, & swimming plans and goals for 2017?

I plan to continue racing on the USAT Junior Elite Series this year. I age up into the 16-19 age group this season which will be harder because I am now the youngest racing, so I would love to place in the top 15 at nationals. I’ve also been invited to the CAMTRI North American Junior Championships in Sarasota, Florida in March which will be my very first ITU race and I’m so excited! I have High School swim state in two weeks too, where I hope to place in the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle. In track, I am trying the 800 and 1600 this year so we will see how it goes.

What’s your favorite thing about the group of young BAM athletes, as well as your biggest triathlon pet peeve?

My favorite thing about the athletes at BAM is that we really are like a big family. Everyone on the team wants to see each other succeed. My biggest training pet peeve in general is when people pee in the pool. Like just walk to the bathroom… geez.

2016-06-18 15.05.08.jpg

Are your various coaches supportive of your triathlon pursuits or do they wish you’d focus on just one? Are you able to train as a triathlete during a particular season or are you pretty much focused on the season at hand?

My swim and cross country/track coaches have always been so supportive of me while I am training for my triathlons. I usually can get away with going to the separate school sport practices and use that as my swimming and running triathlon training. It makes my days pretty stacked with workouts at times but it’s totally worth it.

2016-05-14 08.56.06.jpg

I’ve always thought it takes a special kid to be a competitive swimmer… what’s the typical training schedule/volume they put you through in high school swimming? Do you swim for swimming itself or more for triathlon?

My varsity high school team (Desert Hills *Whoop Whoop*) trains every morning from 5-7am. We also have to attend one night practice a week that is combined with the junior varsity team. We do on average 4,000-5,000 yards each practice. I started swimming when I was younger and loved it. I still love to swim and compete in the high school and club meets, which is awesome because all of it helps my triathlon swim.

Anything else you want to share?

For reals though…. Don't pee in the pool!


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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Respect the RD! Interview with RaceTri

RaceTri is known for great local races and epic pre-race speeches. Continuing our "Respect the RD!" series with RaceTri's Aaron Shamy, a former world-class rock climber who now sacrifices his time and energy for our triathlon community.

Thanks for the time, Aaron!

Can you give us a quick history of RaceTri?

RaceTri started in the year 2000 with what has become one of Utah’s favorite sprint distance events, The Salem Spring Sprint triathlon. At the end of 2009 we took over RaceTri to become partners/owners/operators. We consider ourselves to be a small local Ma & Pa type shop. We do not compete with the big operators like WTC but want to give our athletes a wonderful racing atmosphere while also providing a quality experience!

Rumor has it you’ve moved to Alaska... why the move, and what’s the future of RaceTri?

Hahaha! Rumors!!! We are so funny about rumors in our tight community … meaning that they spread fast and evoke all sorts of feelings. Yes, I have moved to Alaska! I have been asked by my employer; Seminaries & Institutes, to take on a new assignment to coordinate the seminary and institute programs in Wasilla, Alaska. The move has been wonderful to stretch me professionally and provide a unique adventure for my family. The future of RaceTri will remain mostly unchanged. I am thinking there needs to be a RaceTri sister event in one of these gorgeous Alaska lakes. Still working on it… Most of Race Directing happens before race day and from behind a computer screen and on the phone. With that being said I will continue to attend all the events, only difference is my commute is now 3000 miles. Athletes used to only seeing me on Race day will never know the difference.

This is probably like asking which of your kids you love most, but what’s your “podium” for favorite RaceTri events?

#3 Escape from Black Ridge, The Herriman Triathlon ... A swim with a view

#2 Salem Spring/Ice Breaker … where everybody knows your name (or learns it if you are new)

#1 THE TOUGHMAN UTAH HALF is my FAVORITE!!! It’s the day that dreams are made of!

Black Ridge Reservoir
What are the most rewarding & frustrating aspects of being a race director?

The most rewarding thing about being a race director is the people! I love the people, their stories, the lives changed, the obstacles overcome to reach the finish line. It's like having front row seats to the greatest sporting event of all time every time, I love it! To pretend like I play some small role in an individuals journey is rewarding beyond words.

Frustrating aspects ... Hmmm ....Race directing frustrating? Never thought that before … haha! J/K … I have worked in the ground operations control tower out at the SLC airport, competed at the highest level of sports for gold medals and world cup titles, but never got ulcers & kidney stones until I started race directing. Many of the stresses of race directing I welcome and try to embrace and approach with a “Let’s find a solution” attitude… however, your readers might be interested to know that some frustrating things for a RD might include:

getting the crowd amped at Icebreaker

When someone commits to helping on race day and then doesn’t show up, it can be frustrating left scrambling to fill volunteer spots to keep everyone safe and the race running smoothly. It’s better to say no, than to say yes and not show up or cancel last minute.

When an individual signs up to race both the athlete and the RD assume certain levels of risk and responsibility that all will go as planned. One frustrating aspect is when race week comes around and an athlete discovers that for whatever reason (injury, family, work, a better offer) they cannot race. It's bad form to then with days until the race to seek refunds or rolling over their event to another race. Athletes that do this need to understand that your entry fee has already been allocated on dozens of different expenses it takes to make this event happen for them! When they seek to roll their entry over to another event all those expenses need to be paid for again yet this time these fees come out of the event planners pocket. 

Bandit running is stealing. Most municipalities have passed ordinances that support this view.

drone's eye view of Salem

The Toughman Utah Half recently ranked #3 in our "People's Vote Top 10 Utah Races" results. However, there's been some speculation about changes. Any updates on the water conditions of Utah Lake or in general?

I recently had someone reach out and message me with some concerns about the cancelled swim at the Toughman last year and was nervous about signing up because of the chance the swim could be cancelled again. Here was my reply to that athlete:

In RaceTri's 16 year history and almost 100 Triathlon events... last year's Toughman was the first time any portion of any event had to be completely cancelled (due to the toxic algae, which can be deadly). It is highly unlikely that we will have the event at Utah Lake again. We will announce the new location as soon as permissions are secure

In the 20 or so triathlons I have personally done I have experienced multiple canceled portions of an event due to wind/lightning/water conditions etc. (not any our events). I understand how disappointing it can be

I think Racetri may have one of the best records of any event organizer worldwide (including IM) most of this good fortune is due to luck and some of it is due to our tireless efforts to make back up plans and secure other options when something does go wrong.

With that being said any time you sign up for any event athletes run the risk of potentially having portions of their race cancelled or cut short. Even the Ironman brand has had to cancel swim portions, bike portions, and run portions of events due to weather, and other unforeseen conditions that make an event unsafe... I remember a few years ago they cancelled an entire race (Tahoe) because close by fires had made the air quality questionable. It is a sad day when that has to happen

the Toughman Utah Half may be moving away from Utah Lake

So to answer your question. We are working on a new venue, and we will seek back up plans if that new venue experiences last minute problems but there are some acts of God that even the best laid plans and back up plans cannot foresee. Unfortunately, ambiguity is the nature of racing at events in our sport. Developing some level of comfort with uncertainty is a necessary evil as athletes and race organizers embark together in a calculated risk. That being said we took very good care of our Toughman athletes last year at great expense to our organization. Giving them heavy discounts to our remaining races last year and to this year's Toughman. We love our athletes!

From your perspective what’s the current state of triathlon in Utah?

Utah is one of the most athletic states in the union! Participation in organized events could be cited as one of the evidences of the popularity of Utah’s athleticism. Some people get their start into event racing with a novelty 5K or multi-leg running event. Some people find their stride solely with the running events but for those seeking new ways to challenge themselves they make the transition to ultraracing or multisport events like triathlon. The condition of triathlon in Utah is good! There are many events and event companies for athletes to choose from, giving them a variety of courses and experiences to keep them motivated and busy. Also worthy of note is the incredible community of triathletes. For those who come to the sport of triathlon in Utah and stay you have wonderful organizations like the SLC TRI CLUB, TEAM BAM, BLONDE RUNNER, TEAM DODO, and many more … for heaven's sake, Utah County is home to the IRON COWBOY, there is triathlon royalty in our midst and by going out to the races you could find yourself high fiving some of the greats in the sport right here in Utah.

Who are some age groupers who come to mind as being the best “ambassadors” of the sport that you’ve witnessed over the years (not in terms of results necessarily, but as in good attitude, inspirational, sportsmanship, etc)?

Each year we keep our eye out for individuals who demonstrate great sportsmanship, volunteerism, overcoming the odds, those who go the extra mile to advocate for the sport! They are inducted into what we call “RaceTri Royalty”. They are separated into two categories; Athlete & Volunteer of the year:

RaceTri Athletes of the Year

2012 Emily Blodgett
2013 David Warden 
2014 Joanne Isaksen 
2015 Travis Iverson 
2016 Afton Swensen 

RaceTri Volunteers of the Year

2012 Kristin Krotoski 
2013 Mandy & Eric Oscarson
2014 Connie Barnes 
2015 Greg Howell 
2016 The Salt Lake Tri Club (Accepted by Justin Lynch)

Additional names that come to mind would include:

Rory & Courtney Duckworth 
Mitch Orgill
Wes Johnson
Andrew Stasinos 
Lora Erickson 
Eric Newren
Allison Matson
Joe Martel 
Gary Henderson
Michele Conover 
Carrie Higbee 
Utah Search & Rescue 
Police and Medical Personal across this great state
And of course our Iron Cowboy; James Lawrence.

A special shout out to our good friends Kelly & Jared Jones (since relocated to the east coast) were instrumental in helping us with the learning curve in those first couple of years after we took over.

This list does not even begin to credit the hundreds of individuals who make race day possible. We are so grateful to all the individuals that act as ambassadors for our sport whether volunteering, organizing, or helping at one of our races or one of our competitor’s events, thank you! Thank you for getting out there and helping support and grow triathlon.

Do you get any pre-race jitters before and during races as a race director, or does jumping in the lake and/or smashing a clipboard during your pre-race speeches eliminate any nerves?

The thing that makes my nights sleepless in the days leading up to an event is the thought that someone might get hurt. I breath my first sigh of relief when I see every bike gone out of transition because everyone is out of the water safe and sound. Then the second sigh of relief comes when all the bikes return :) 

The pre-race speech stems from my personal history of being on the receiving end of speeches in locker rooms before swim meets, wrestling matches, and rock climbing competitions. I would have to say my wrestling coaches Rob Brough & Dave VandeVeegaete and climbing mentors Doug Hunter & Greg Loh knew how to get me psyched up! Ready to perform to the best of my athletic ability, help me dig deep and find that place where I wanna want it! 

editor's note: must-watch video! 

My Mom & Dad inspired me to literally go for the gold and supported me in my journey at great personal and financial sacrifice. I know the pre-race speeches might seem silly to some, and even like a waste of the 60 seconds they usually take. For me they are my small tribute to the men and women who coach and inspire others, the speeches are for my mom and dad who sat for hours on hard benches all those years and drove countless miles to get me across the country for national competitions. While you might hear me screaming to “Never give up, Never surrender” … what I am actually saying is thank you mom, thank you dad, thank you Mr Brough, & Mr VandeVeegaete, thank you Doug and Greg! I will always remember you. Thank a coach today! Make a goal, and see you out at the races :)

Main Site:  RaceTri

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bike Helmets: A Brief History

Today helmets are everywhere, of course, but it hasn’t always been that way. Just as other headgear (think football) and the bike itself have evolved, so to has the bike helmet. How did the industry and the dome protector evolve from simple strips of leather to the engineering wonders we have today? 

Hope you enjoy this high-level look!

1800’s - While there’s some debate surrounding whether the chicken or the egg came first, as you might expect, the bicycle was invented before the bike helmet. Almost immediately, however, the market for helmets was born, as 19th century cyclists discovered that it hurt really bad when you crashed… especially when landing on one’s head.

1900 – 1960’s - Around the turn of the century serious cyclists began using "helmets" made of strips of leather-covered padding. These evolved over time, but by and large the best available were made from good old cow hide. As you might imagine, leather helmets weren’t extremely protective and had a tendency to rot away over time.

Although triathlon wasn’t invented until the 1970’s, time trials have been a part of the Tour de France since 1934. The prevailing thought for many years regarding TT’s was that the regular bikes and equipment being used would forever be suitable for TT’s as well. 

1970’s - Cycling, once considered child’s play, booms as a means of exercise and entertainment.

Leather strips still reigned supreme (often referred to as "hairnets" due to their shape) and the nicest ones were made in Italy.

1975 - The Bell Biker helmet pioneers the use of hard, crushable foam with a hard plastic shell. Other manufacturers played the role of copycat, and this was the dominant model for a decade.

According to a bike guru friend of mine, “in the mid to late 70’s people started to give more thought to their equipment. For example, some would actually drill holes in their steel bikes to make them lighter. On the helmet side, most cyclists were wearing the leather hairnets or none at all.” 

1978 - Something called “Ironman” is born on the islands of Hawaii, the combination of three established local events: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 mi reduced to 112), and the Honolulu Marathon.

1980 (circa) - While he wasn’t exactly Thomas Edison, some historians trace the “aero helmet” to British cyclist Dave Lloyd’s “skin hat” invention. “It was kinda like one of those FloJo track suits with the hood. It looked ridiculous, and only the 3,000% dedicated wore it… it never really caught on."

1984 - The famous title of a futuristic book written around 1950 is a pretty funny era to look back on. The US Olympic cycling team was no different, busting out some attention-grabbing gear on their way to 4 gold, 3 silver, and 2 bronze medals. So they transfused blood, big deal! Well, it is a big deal, but actually wasn’t against rules at the time. Similar to baseball writers attributing home runs in the steroid era to the ball being “juiced,” the media clung on to the US team’s high-tech equipment, including their funky “tear drop” helmets.

In addition, Francesco Moser, nicknamed “The Sheriff,” breaks the one hour time trial record held by Eddy Merckx since 1972. He rode 50.8 km, or 31.5 mph, aided by far superior aerodynamic thought and equipment compared to Merckx. This sparked another round of interest in aero testing and technology.

1985 – 
The “Snell B85” is introduced, the first widely adopted safety standard for bicycle helmets.

Leatherheads, the Bell Biker, something called the “Skid Lid,” and other older helmet styles get kicked to the curb as the Giro Prolight takes center stage. It offered a lighter and more comfortable option thanks to an outer cover of thin lycra cloth.

the notorious skid lid

1986 - Giro follows this up with the release an aero helmet called the “Aerohead.”

1987 - Although lacking the sex appeal of their counterparts on the "elite aerobic" scene, triathlon continues to boom, led by Ironman celebrities Dave Scott, Mark Allen and the popular Bud Light Race Series in the US. Pioneering aero products begin emerging from triathlon, such as Scott clip-on aerobars.

1989 - Aero pandemonium! Going into the final stage of the Tour de France, a mere 24.5km (~15 mi) time trial into Paris, Greg LeMond trailed Laurent Fignon by a seemingly insurmountable 50 seconds. Whereas the man known as “le professeur” rode with no helmet and his ponytail flapping in the wind, LeMond showed up armed with both the Aerohead and Scott aerobars, something never seen before at the Tour. Fignon rode the 3rd fastest time for the stage, but couldn’t hold off LeMond, who out road and out-teched Fignon to win by 8 seconds.

According to my bike historian friend, “LeMond blew the aero scene up with that ‘89 TT. Totally blew everything up. After that there was a lot of attention to aero design, research, and testing. It was the advent of a whole lot of aero things coming out.”

LeMond was ahead of his time
1990 – On the casual helmet front, the Prolight’s dominance was toppled by the return of thin plastic glued to the helmet, which had significant safety benefits over a cloth cover.

1991 - Cycling’s governing body tries to introduce a mandatory helmet requirement for professional racing. However, the riders’ protest proves effective and the rule is not put in place.

Early 1990’s – LeMond’s fully-functional foam helmet from ’89 is overtaken by thin plastic shells, which had aero advantages but provided essentially zero protection in a crash (as mentioned above, protective helmets were not yet required). Regarding the era, my friend commented “we had Bell and the Aerohead, and that was pretty much it as far as something that ‘Joe Athlete’ could pick up. But you would see all these radical (for the time) designs popping up on the professional scene.”

1995 – Speaking of radical, according to Rudy Project USA CEO Paul Craig, “Rudy Project’s entrance into helmets all started when legend Miguel Indurain (Rudy-sponsored for sunglasses) asked us to make him a racing shell in the ‘94-95 timeframe. It was basically a piece of plastic and had bugeye lenses… it looked pretty badass.” The so called “Sweeto” was definitely sweet looking, but wasn’t available to the general public. Added Craig, “many rode without helmets, but there was interest among some of the top pros in the aerodynamic benefits of a shell.”


1998 - With such lightweight, thin shells to work with, TT helmets grow longer over time due in part to increased wind tunnel testing. Soon cyclists were sporting helmets that doubled as back scratchers, sticking a foot up in the air when putting their head down. Many correlate this with the “Armstrong” era.

2001 – The Giro Rev V and other prototypes were made primarily for Armstrong, born from Texas A&M wind tunnel data, and never available to the general public.

2003 – Jan Ullrich out time-trials Lance with this bad boy on his head, a custom made design available only in Europe.

Also, as is unfortunately often the case, it took a tragedy to get a safety rule change pushed through… 

29-year old Kazakh rider Andrey Kivilev crashed and hit his head during the Paris-Nice race. He was not wearing a helmet, slipped into a coma, and subsequently died of his injuries. A full 12 years after initially attempting to require helmets, the rule was finally implemented and enforced. This sparked a flurry of retrofitting, as manufacturers attempted to revamp their existing TT shells to meet the safety standard.

Mid 2000’s – From its phenomenal early growth, triathlon stagnated a bit as a sport in the late 1990’s. It was primed to make an enormous comeback, but as late as 2004, many people were still having triathlon helmets shipped to him from Europe due to limited options. The US market would soon catch up.

Late 2000’s- early '10s – Companies begin investing heavily in helmet R&D, and begin to re-think wind tunnel results that led to the extreme elongated tails of the past (the underlying thought being that real life riding is different from pristine wind tunnel conditions). The result is that recent models demonstrate something of a compromise… no tail, or too short of a tail, and you end up with an inefficient aero shape that spikes drag. However if a tired rider regularly puts his/her head down with a long tail, they’ve essentially wiped out any aero benefit from the wind tunnel.

Last few years – there are a lot of great helmets out there... just make sure to wear one!