April 13, 2010 on 2:59 pm | In Random Musings | 1 Comment
TriSports.com just celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Ten years in triathlon is like a century in other sports. Innovation is the fourth event in tris. What we sell today at TriSports.com is better than any equipment we used ten and fifteen years ago.
When I did my first triathlon in the mid ‘80’s I went to the book store for a book on training for triathlons. There were none. It is part of the reason Seton and Debbie Claggett started TriSports.com ten years ago. Today our website lists at least 119 books and videos.
Classic equipment exists though, even in a sport driven by innovation. As evidence I tender the above photo of me, racing in the Midwest during the 1980’s. It is a snapshot back on technology that shaped our equipment today.
First- the glasses. Oakley owns the sports eyeware category- they invented it. These are the original Oakley Eyeshades, introduced as “Oakley Lights”- an alternative to goggles in Moto-X. They featured a replaceable foam sweat band and cylindrical lens geometry to reduce distortion. They were adjustable for fit, had two temple styles (hook and straight) and interchangeable lenses. Mark Allen, Scott Tinley, Scott Molina, The Puntous Twins and Joanne Ernst wore them. Today Oakley has evolved proprietary lens geometry that mimics the complex curvature of the eye for minimal aspherical distortion. The lens is “hydro-phobic” and sheds perspiration on its own- the sweat band is gone- unnecessary. Ear socks get sticky when wet, keeping glasses in place after dumping an aid station cup over your head. The lenses exceed the federal standard for safety glasses and are worn by Navy SEALs for protection against fragments. For triathletes, Oakley sunglasses are de rigueur.
Timex introduced a sport watch in 1984 that saved the company and became the best selling wristwatch in history. US Presidents have worn it; literally thousands of triathletes have timed PR’s with it since 1984. The version we have today has a similar logic loop but a display with a touch sensitive screen, more ergonomic fit and larger display, presumably because some of us have gotten older. It stores more data and reminds you to drink. It has quadrupled the capabilities but has barely doubled in price since 1984. It is the triathletes’ “Rolex”.
As you can see from the photo we needed some help with clothing in the ‘80’s. This apparel was a first attempt at triathlon clothing called “BRS”. It was an interchangeable acronym for “Blue Ribbon Sports”, Nike’s original name and “Bike, Run Swim”- the name of the clothing line. It was, well… a first attempt. In response to this a company called Zoot Sports began making one piece suits that were more modest, provided better protection and comfort and even better aerodynamics. When the European athletes first saw these triathlon “onesies” they wanted the (said in your best German accent) “tria-talon zooots”. The name stuck and the premier purveyor of triathlon apparel became known as Zoot. The trisuit was born.
And the shoes? The extinct Nike Sock Racer. It was ahead of its time. New materials and advanced designs have been brought into a similar concept, also from Zoot, in their new Ultra Speed Shoe. It is an old concept executed better. No laces, stretch materials, faster transitions, better support and stability.
It’s been ten years for us at TriSports.com but this week we took a few moments to reflect that everything old is sometimes, indeed, new again.