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My P4 Setup!

Tara Norton Bike Setup Blog

Since May when I broke the IM Lanzarote bike course record that Paula Newby Fraser established 15 years ago, a good number of people have asked me for details about my bike setup.  While I would like to think that perhaps my training and hard work over the last few years might have had something to do with my record, I admit that my ride totally rocks and am lucky enough to have it decked out with some pretty cool stuff that helps me go faster.  So I thought I would take the opportunity to detail my bike here for those that are interested.

For the last few years Enduro Sport in Toronto has provided me with a Cervelo PC3, and I absolutely love those frames.  I must also say that, as a Canadian, I am proud to be riding a Canadian bike.  Brian Spargo at Enduro Sport works on my bikes and he is great. I am VERY picky when it comes to my bike – so Spargo, if you read this, thanks for putting up with me!  There really is no need for me to sing the praises of the P3C frame because it has been so successful that my voice on the subject will add little to the accolades that it has already received.  That being said, IM Lanzarote was my last race on the P3C before Enduro Sport provided me with this year’s new P4 a few weeks ago.  My position on the P4 is identical to what it was on the P3C, so I am equally comfortable now as I was before.  I am just a little more aero! I have heard discussions on the different handling characteristics of the two bikes, but I must say that I have not noticed a huge difference myself.  I am getting used to the integrated water bottle on the P4, and I have had to move my bento box from the front of the top tube to the back, so that it is now positioned just in front of the seat post, but other than those differences I feel the same as I did previously.

Once you have a frame that suits you, without question it is the wheels that will have a greater impact on your bike split than any other mechanical component of your setup.  All my components including my wheels are from Shimano and its subsidiary, Pro.  I know that I have mentioned this in the past, but while some manufacturers focus primarily on the aerodynamics of their wheels, Shimano designs and produces incredibly aero wheels with a focus on power delivery.  To me this is key because having a wonderfully aero wheel in a wind tunnel is one thing, but what about those courses with low-speed climbs where aerodynamics are less of a factor?  Power delivery, however, is a factor during every single moment of a 180 km ride.  Knowing that I will not lose wattage from the hub to the rim of my Shimano wheels over each of the 9000 feet of climbing in Lanzarote is way cool.  I ride with different Shimano wheels depending on the course.  For example, at IM Canada last year I used a Pro disc wheel and the Pro 4Rays 4-spoke wheel up front.  In Lanzarote, though, I rode with the DuraAce C50 carbon tubular wheel up front and the deeper C75 on the back.  Because I use an SRM to monitor my power output (a crank-based system as opposed to a wheel hub based system), it is very easy for me to switch wheels at any time I like.

As for other components of my ride, I use Pro’s cut-out seat, a Pro carbon stem, Pro Missile carbon aero bars and…wait for it…drum roll please…Shimano’s DuraAce Di2 electronic shifting groupset.  The P3C I rode in Lanzarote was set up with Di2, and it is on my P4 now. Let me tell you, once you ride with Di2 there is simply no going back – it is that remarkable.  The shifting is so fast, precise, smooth, seamless, and consistent that it makes you giggle when you first start using it.  Because there are no cables with Di2, issues with cable friction and cable stretching have been eliminated.  The front derailleur “thinks” for itself and automatically adjusts its position to avoid that chain rub you can get when using the extreme high or low gears – manual trimming is no longer necessary.  And, incredibly, with Di2 you can even effortlessly shift from the small to large front chain ring while under full load (yes, I mean while out of the saddle and climbing), a feat that is impossible with traditional manual shifting.

I could go on and on about Di2, but nothing I can say will match the experience of using Di2 yourself. My IM Lanzarote bike split this year was 5:26:23 and Paula’s record was 5:26:32 – a difference of just 9 seconds.  Good thing she didn’t have Di2 15 years ago!

Thanks for reading,