This month’s BOM honors go to Rob Gray’s lava inspired Dimond. Rob picked the Dimond over the Trek Speed Concept and the Cervelo P5-6 for two simple reasons: the aerodynamic potential of the beam bike design and the “Made in the USA” philosophy of our team. After buying the bike, he began to love it for a few other reasons:
“The Dimond team offers an amazing level of customer service. It’s pretty extraordinary, and you’ll hear the same thing from other Dimond owners. The bike also turns heads and rides better than I could have ever imagined, so yeah, it’s an amazing bike all around.”
Rob competed in Kona last month and Ironman Arizona on Sunday. In Kona, Queen K taught the South African a few lessons during the World Championships; after a stellar swim and bike (likely due in part to his lava-inspired paint job), he overheated during the extreme heat and had to keep a run-walk regimen to cross the finish line. One of the many reasons we respect Rob as a competitor is his humbleness and gratitude toward the sport:
“It’s always such an honor just to be able to compete at the World Champs in Kona… It’s the world champs, and so many people would love the opportunity to be there. So I just enjoyed being there and ignored the disappointing run (walk) pace!”
With his new perspective on heat prep for races, Rob set his sights on Ironman Arizona. With a goal of a sub 9, he clocked in with a 9:19. A slow swim and a sub optimal run kept him from his goal, but with the fastest amateur bike split of the day and a 2nd AG placing, he was content:
“I’m really happy with a 9:19, even though my main IM goal now is to go sub 9. I had some really bad cramping issues in my left glute the day before the race, so I woke up feeling like a gorilla had been punching me all night. I cramped at the start of the swim, bike and run, but I just relaxed and focused on maintaining effort for 10-15 minutes and they went away each time. So in the end, it really was not an issue at all. I was very satisfied being able to get through the day in one piece, 9:19 and 2nd place was a bonus!”
For IMAZ, Rob tinkered with his nutrition and had a different plan of attack for his time on the Dimond:
“I was going to bike a bit harder than normal, the presence of competition, plus having aid stations makes it a great opportunity to do that. My first lap was done at an intensity factor of .85 which is more what I would ride in a half ironman. Laps 2 and 3 were more crowded so I had to ease off a bit more often with an IF of .81 which felt like a steady all day pace. My VI was 1.03 which is the lowest I’ve ever had in an IM. This was a bike PR and my best executed IM bike to date.”
I had a more tasty nutrition assortment. On the bike, I flavored my malto/fructose mix with 2 bottles of “hand crafted” Q ginger beer, which was awesome. Definitely keeping that. I rounded it off with 8 gummy worms and 2 bags of powerbar cola chews, averaging 430 calories per hour.”
Rob is setting his sights beyond Ironman racing in 2016 and has already begun his preparation for Ultraman Florida. For those endurance junkies who think an Ironman is just too short, there’s the next level of competition with the Ultraman Series. The three-day event includes a 10K swim and 90 bike split on day one, 171 miles of spinning wheels on day two and a double marathon on the third and final day. Yes, that is 52 miles of pounding pavement. Rob doesn’t want to just compete; he wants to win the whole shebang. And the Dimond will be helping him accomplish this goal:
“From what I can tell, the fastest bike split was 8:01 in 2014. Based on my initial calculations I think I can break 8 hours, at an average power of less than 210 watts. If my winter training goes to plan, I believe I can be closer to 7:30 at around 250 watts.”
He’s relied a lot upon Jim Manton from ERO to help make some of his gains in the sport. Jim helped him get into a better position and helped him optimize his equipment choices for his quest to be as slippery as possible:
“Everything tests differently on everyone. You can’t say this helmet is the fastest, or this suit is the fastest. It depends on who is wearing it…The best strategy is to find a fast position first, then test all of the gear, because a different position could impact the effectiveness of helmets, hydration setup and clothing.”
Like most triathletes, Rob also juggles a full-time job, at Google nonetheless, and two kids. He fits in training early in the morning, a lunch time swim and then hangs out at the Google recovery center, which has the hook up to Normatec compression boots! Kudos to Google for treating its employees well.
Best of luck Rob on your winter training and Ultraman in February Rob! If you are interested to read more about Rob’s Rob’s smokin’ fast ride, check out his SlowTwitch article.