Ancillary Training

Opinion Friday – The Bastardization of “Free Speed”

I hate what the concept of free speed has become.

Back in the day, the term “free speed” covered all aspects of racing better. Focus on technique, developing faster transitions, having the cajones to rock a descent without touching the brakes, that kind of thing. Now, it has become the very definition of an oxymoron. Rather than finding speed based on improved skill, now you see advertisements, testimonials, and twitter posts touting “free speed“, all the while being tethered to an image of the latest $10,000 tri bike or $500 helmet.

This is most definitely NOT “free speed“. This is a ton of money for something that saves mere seconds to a few minutes at best over a several hour race. This is buying speed, and I am not a fan.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against the evolution of tech. However, most of the people throwing down literally tens of thousands of dollars in hopes of making up the hour and a half deficit they have to their cherished Kona Qualification are being taken for a ride. But, hey, buyer beware eh?

Let ’em throw money at their dreams and continue to slack on that second to last interval and their Sunday long run. That is part of why I love this sport, it rewards hard work and commitment. What I hate is the use of the term free speed to justify their materialistic desperation. Free speed deserves better than that.

The fact is, free speed doesn’t come for free. Rather it is the seemingly effortless improvement that comes with hours of focus and hard work. We need another term to cover what people are trying to call free speed.

I suggest Tech Viagra. 

Luckily this is something we don’t have to deal with too much in the dirtTRI world. When your race format requires you to actually race the bike, without drafting playing a significant roll, yet demanding true fitness and skill the concept of buying speed doesn’t have nearly as much influence. Off road multisport is much more straightforward and pure, and after several years on the road, I can tell you its one hell of a relief. Now, time to go find myself some free speed. 

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Jimmy Archer

Founder and Editor at DirtTRI.com. Jimmy has been a professional athlete for over 18 years as a runner, cyclist, mountain biker, cross country skier, and primarily, triathlete. Jimmy has a degree in exercise science from the University of Colorado and is a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling certified coach. Jimmy became a freelance writer in 2000 while competing and covering the ITU Winter Triathlon World Championship. Since that time Jimmy has been head editor at two magazines, been published in numerous publications within the endurance sport, recreation, and travel segments. Currently Jimmy is competing professionally in off-road multisport. In his spare time Jimmy passionately follows Formula 1, Moto GP, and is an avid cook.

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One Comment

  1. Its called hard work, or fun in the dirt in my case 🙂
    I have a 2001 Cervelo one original everything , well tires and tubes have been replaced, and still had the fastest bike split in my age-group yesterday! Passing, ZIPP wheels, high end carbon bikes, aero helmets, power meters… I love starting in the back waves to see all the expensive gear. 🙂
    Now for my mtn bike… I’ll save that for another time

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