Sign up for a Duathlon!
A ‘Classic Duathlon’ is a road event consisting of a 10km run, followed by a 40km bike and finishing with a shorter 5km run. However, most events will also offer a ‘Sprint Race’ that offers half distance disciplines. There are also long course events for the masochists among you. These vary in distance up to the ultimate duathlon challenge of the Powerman World Championships. Held every September in Zofingen, Switzerland. It starts with a 10km run, followed by a 150km bike before finishing with an epic 30km run. There are also a range of off-road duathlons held in the UK each year that are great for novices. There is no traffic to worry about and there will be no disadvantage to riding a mountain bike as everyone else will be.
It’s not all about the bike your kit needs
If you just want to give duathlon a go then, for a road based duathlon, a mountain bike or hybrid will get you round. Make sure you fit slick tyres though. However, if you get into it, then getting a decent road bike will make training and racing far more enjoyable. Expect to pay £500-£1000 and remember to budget for a helmet and cycling shoes. Fitting a pair of clip-on aero-bars is an effective and not overly expensive ‘go-faster’/multi-sport specific upgrade, but make sure you’re comfortable and safe on them prior to race day. If you really get hooked on duathlon/triathlon then you’ll probably want to upgrade at some stage to a specific low-profile triathlon bike. With integrated aerobars, super aerodynamic frame and bar-end gear shifters (to allow you to change gear whilst holding your aerodynamic position) they are designed purely for going fast on the flat in a straight line. Speed doesn’t come cheap though with the market starting at around £1500-£2000 and on many hilly/twisty courses you’d probably be better off sticking with your road bike. For off-road duathlons, you’ll need a well-maintained mountain bike. An entry level (£400) hardtail (front suspension only) will be absolutely fine as the courses are rarely very technical. For the run, your regular road shoes are ideal, although you might want to consider fitting some lock laces to save you having to fiddle around with tying your laces in transition. Triathlon specific racing shoes are also ideal allowing you to simply pull-off and slip-on. For off-road events, a decent trail/fell shoe that offers greater grip and stability than a road shoe is essential. As you’re going to have to run twice, wearing fully padded cycling shorts isn’t really an option. Tri shorts and Tri suits generally have a thin chamois to give some padding on the bike but won’t rub uncomfortably on the run.