Popular Ironkids Kids TRI Series Having Growing Pains

World Triathlon Corporation’s popular Ironkids series gained a new sponsor in 2011 when the series was  adopted by Hy-Vee supermarkets.  Hy-Vee is a mid-west grocery chain operating 230 stores in 8 states.

Here lies the problem.  A regional sponsor for an event billed as a national series. Ironkids had successfully grown the brand to include races across the U S culminating with a heavily attended national championship end of season event. Now it seems that a supermarket chain is calling the shots and sees no benefit to events in Austin, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, Tucson, San Diego, Seattle and other locations where the chain store doesn’t exist. Cash is king and it is easy to understand why HY-Vee wouldn’t want to promote events in markets that are outside its operating area. It is harder for me to understand why World Triathlon Corporation, owner of the Ironkids brand would want to abandon popular races in the South, West, and South-east. This at a time when youth triathlon is booming and the original Ironkid, Lance Armstrong is making such a splash in the sport. Lance was 13 yrs old when he won an Ironkids event in Dallas. Imagine the opportunity that WTC and Lance Armstrong have to impact kids through the Ironkids series. It is sad that communication from Ironkids has been so poor.  The week that Ironkids announced the 2012 race series,  its facebook page lit up like a Christmas tree with over 100 unhappy comments from parents that had long supported the events. Almost all the comments went unanswered, not a great way to run a business. Full disclosure, I love Ironkids events. They are well executed with very capable staff. Our family has crossed many states to take part. We have even made the trip to Nationals. I just do not love the direction that Ironkids is going of late with WTC seeming to care only about the single sponsor and less about the potential and opportunity that exists within youth triathlon. Ironman and the M Dot branding has done very well in the sport of triathlon. It would nice to see WTC show more of a concern with developing the youth aspect of the sport and its popular Ironkids series. WTC is owned by Private Equity Group Providence Partners http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Triathlon_Corporation.


NEW 2012 USAT Youth Rules Stir Controversy

  In January 2012, USAT released youth supplemental rules attempting to improve fairness and consistency in the fast growing sport of youth triathlon. USAT head official Charlie Crawford received many calls from parents expressing concern over the changes outlined in the new policy. Chief among the complaints, was the decision to outlaw aero bars on youth road bikes used during USAT competitive events. More than a few parents had made significant investments into bikes with aero bars and while the parents complaints are understandable, USAT’s decision was right on target. USAT made the change to improve safety in its races. As anyone who has “riden aero” can attest, it can be shaky when learning this advanced cycling skill. Youth courses are often tight and congested and there is simply no reason to have this type of preventable bike accident. USATs other decision to disapprove aero helmets was based on recent safety studies that have shown the helmets to have a propensity to come off during a collision. The helmets with their signature tale, look cool but do little to improve speed and times with the youth triathlete short bike distances.

Other key changes include disallowing training wheels and flotation devices during USAT sancitoned races. Keep in mind that race directors that choose to have a participatory kids triathlon vs. a competitive triathlon may or may not choose to use the USAT youth supplemental rules.

Be sure to review the new youth supplemental rules prior to your first race!


Houston Kids Triathlon Aims High

What: Houston Kids Triathlon

When: April 15th, 2012

Where: University of Houston


Wes Hires with Kids Triathlon Inc. expects The Houston Kids Triathlon to be the “biggest single kids triathlon in Texas” in its inaguaral year. Hosted at The University of Houston, the race will feature a pre race pep ralley and free ice cream. Safety is a key part of any kids event and both the bike and run course will be closed to car traffic for the race.

Checkout their website and think about making The Houston Kids Triathlon your first race for the 2012 season!


Youth Road Bike Review

This is a guide for a parent looking for a kids road bike for a child ages 6 to 10 years.  Stay tuned for another blog (coming soon) on ages 11 to 15 years. As a parent, I have experienced first hand, the frustration over understanding where to begin the process of buying a beginner road bike for my child. Only a very few of the 100 or so bike manufacturers have road bikes for our little guys and gals, and if they do, most bike shops choose not to carry them. Only a few bike stores in the U S carry these “niche” kids road bikes year round. While it is possible to find a quality used youth road bike on Craigslist, it is unlikely. These bikes are swept up quickly. Your best bet is to make contact with a youth triathlon or bike team where kids are constantly recycling the bikes as they grow into the next size. Be aware mom and dad! You will find yourself with “sticker shock” as you realize the retails for these small bikes. Keep in mind a couple of key points; 1. Almost all these bikes are made with quality components and the frames and are simply smaller versions of many of the adult road bikes. 2. These little bikes will really hold their value when the time comes to sell! You can expect to easily recoup 60 to 75% of your investment when you get ready to sell. Just search Craiglist for youth or kids road bikes and you will see for yourself!

I have attempted to do some homework for you and tried to give the best options for your little triathlete or cyclist. It is a great idea to attend a kids triathlon and look around for yourself to get a feel for whats out there. Ask the kids and parents about their bikes. You will find that they will love to talk you about their bike and will have some great reasons why their bike is the best!

Piranello FP Zero

Piranello FP Zero

Manufacture site http://www.pinarello.com/eng/fp0_453.php
Size -24 inch wheels 38 cm frame
Weight -950 grams frame only
Frame -Aluminum
Component -Shimano

Price $850

Dealer notes “Start the kids off right with the Pinarello FP0! This kid-specific bike is a Pinarello through and through.It starts with a triple-butted 6061 T6 aluminum frame and fork in a 38cm size. 24 inch clincher wheels are matched with a 160 mm Shimano double crankset with appropriate gearing for the budding cyclist.The Shimano drivetrain features an 8-speed rear derailleur, double front derailleur and integrated brake/shift levers. The brakes are Tektro and a MOst bar, stem and saddle, which are sized for kids, complete the package.”

US Dealer  http://www.castlehillcycles.com/

Availability – Per the owner Jerry at Castlehill Cycles, he has one in stock and can order more if needed
Resale Estimate – $500 to $700

Felt F24

Felt F24

Manufacturer http://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2012/Road/F-Series/F24.aspx
Size -24 inch wheels

Weight 19.06 lb
Frame – Aluminum frame, carbon fork
Component -Shimano

Price $799

Dealer notes -Big-time performance in a compact package. With many of the same features as the adult-version F Series bikes, the F24 is a dream ride for the up-and-coming road rider. Designed around smaller 24” wheels, it features Felt F-Lite tubing for light weight, strength and reliable handling. It comes with a vibration-damping carbon fiber fork, special kids’ size handlebar and short-reach integrated shifters/brake levers with a top-mount brake lever for easier control.

US Dealer  http://bicycleworldofhouston.com/product/12felt-bicycles-f24-154286-1.htm

Resale Estimate $450 to $600

Blue 2Four

Blue 2Four

Manufacturer http://www.rideblue.com/2four.php
Size -24 inch wheels
Frame weight only -1155 grams frame only
Frame -Aluminum frame, carbon fork
Component- Shimano Tiagra

Price $1235

Dealer notes – “Custom drawn, double butted 7000 AL tube set
Aerus Composites carbon bladed fork with AL steer tube
Custom designed for 10 speed cassette
English threaded AL bottom bracket shell
Available in one size only”

US Dealer http://www.brittonbikes.com/

Resale Estimate $800 to $1000

Scott Speedster Jr 24

Scott Speedster Jr24

Manufacturer http://www.scott-sports.com/global/en/products/221795193/bike-speedster-jr-24-24/
Size -24 inch wheels
Weight -18.53 lbs
Frame -Aluminum
Component -Shimano

Price $700

Dealer notes – “Light JR road racing bike to fulfill all dads dreams Frame: Speedster JR 6061 alloy, 24” JR geometry Group set: Shimano2300, Lasco JR road crankset 46/34T Wheels: Scott Comp hubs, Alex Race DA-22 rims”

US Dealer  http://www.bicyclesplustx.com/

Resale Estimate -$400 to $650

Fuji Ace 24

Fuji Ace 24

Manufacturer http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/ace-242
Size -24 inch wheels
23.41 lbs
Frame -Aluminum frame, steel fork
Component -Shimano
Retail Price $425

Dealer notes – Fuji’s Ace 24 lets your child join you out on the road! This pint-size ride boasts the same features as your own bike, like a lightweight aluminum frame and durable aluminum components. Plus, it’s packed with great features, like Shimano shifting, quick-rolling aluminum wheels and powerful dual-pivot brakes. So whether it’s around the block with Dad, or a long ride with Mom, this bike is your ace in the hole for family fun, fitness and togetherness.

US Dealer  http://shop.chatobikes.com/product/10fuji-ace-24-64466-1.htm

Resale Estimate – $200 to $275

I welcome comments from any readers with specific information or opinion about any of these bikes. Also, if I left a bike off the list, let me know!

TOP 5 Reasons Kids Should Be Triathletes

What a start to the year for triathlon. Lance Armstrong, the original kid triathlete decides to return to the sport and finishes second in his debut at Ironman Panama. His committment to race triathlon this year, coupled with publicity stemming from the London summer olympic games will push an already fast growing sport over the top and into the mainstream for many American kids and parents.

So then, what is the appeal of triathlon for kids and parents? I have tried to identify a few of the advantages with my top 5 reasons your kid should swim, bike and run:

1. Cross-Training keeps our kids safe. We all know plenty of kids that were sidelined from sports like cross country, swimming, football, etc..with stress fractures and growth plate injuries. These injuries can and should be prevented. We know that repetitive stress is bad for the growing body. Swim, bike and run solves much of that problem.

2. Family time. You take the whole family out for a bike ride or run and call it training. Kids ages 7 to 16 can compete in the same events (in different age groups and distances of course) and learn to support each other. Mom and Dad might even get to do a sprint race the next day as many of the events now couple a kids race with an adult race over the same weekend. How many other sports can you do this type of family bonding?

3. It is more a lifestyle than a sport. Talk to a triathlete for any length of time and you will quickly learn that it is a lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle choices and a disciplined approach to life typify the triathletes that I know. Whether competitive or not, my kids will hopefully have 3 skills (swimming, biking, running) that they can use their entire lives.

4. Triathlon Avoids Burnout. I cringe when I meet parents that have their kids specializing in one sport by age 9, 10, 11, 12, or 13. Can you imagine having to make this type of decision at such an early age. The kids don’t decide anyway, the parents do and of course the kids do not want to disappoint. I know a sports psychologist from a division I university that shares with me the amount of crying by NCAA athletes that are burned out and no longer love their sport. I figure that my kids may want to swim in high school, they may want to run track, they may want to play soccer or maybe, just maybe they will be an elite triathlete. Any way you look at it, being a triathlete teaches them how to compete and gives them time they need and deserve to make this decision.

5. The rest of the WORLD has already figured out that triathlon ROCKS! Check out the attached link for all the kids triathlon races around the world http://www.trimapper.com/triathlonsbytyp.php?continent=Europe&type1=Kids&type2=Juniors&type3=Youth

The US is behind the curve on this one. Here is my theory. Organized sports are at an all time high in the US. I am talking about traditional team sports like basketball, football, baseball, soccer, etc…YET, our kids are as unhealthy as any time in our nations history. We have all heard the stats on childhood (and adult) obesity. I believe that people are looking for a sport that can address this issue like other sports have not. Triathlon may just be the ticket.