by Laura Henry
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love
"Seasons of Love" by Jonathan Larson
In January 2019, I received news that every cyclist or triathlete wants to hear:
I was going to be given a Quintana Roo PRsix.
Yes, little old me from Baldwinsville, NY, was chosen as the recipient of a beautiful, fast, amazing bike by Quintana Roo. I felt all the feelings - gratitude, delight, joy, and anticipation. Cycling will always and forever be my activity of choice, so this was SUCH a big deal for me.
I opted for the PRsix Disc, which would make the bike a bit stiffer (translation: faster) and increase the responsiveness by shortening braking/stopping times. It took a little while for my PRsix to arrive (it had to do with a delayed shipment of some Shimano components necessary to build my bike). In May 2019, my PRsix finally arrived safe and sound in its box from Quintana Roo's World Headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
I immediately loaded it into Petey the Pilot (my name for my 2007 Honda Pilot; you’ll soon see that naming things is a thing that I do) and headed to my local bike shop - Fast Eddie’s Cycles in Oswego, NY - to get it built.
Eddie Bristol, the owner of Fast Eddie’s Cycles indulged my request to hang out and watch as he built my lovely, new PRsix. I had already decided on a name for this all-black dream machine - Bruce Wayne (aka The Dark Knight). I was certain that I - an ordinary person/athlete - could take flight and accomplish some exciting things with this bike, very much like Bruce Wayne accomplished great things as his alter ego, Batman.
Eddie finished up building Bruce Wayne, and even sent me out the door with a vinyl bat signal to put on him. I was stoked to take to the open roads and see how this bike performed.
When Bruce Wayne entered my life, I had been riding time trial bikes for more than five seasons. Over the course of those five seasons, I had owned two different Specialized Shivs. I had loved those bikes and they helped me to reach some really big goals, so I was really curious to see how the PRsix compared.
I should note that I sustained a catastrophic fracture to my left arm in a cycling accident in September 2015. That injury - and the subsequent surgeries required to repair it (one of which permanently altered my hip, as they grafted three inches of bone from my hip to repair my arm), had changed how my body functions. Even though my Specialized Shivs had previously worked well for me, I realized that my new, post-surgery body didn’t work so well with that particular bike.
I thought I was doomed to never be able to sustain the fit required by a triathlon/time trial bike ever again. However, during a bike fit in December 2018 (when I was making my final attempt to get fit to my current Specialized Shiv), Master Fitter Adam Sczech told me that the adjustability on a Quintana Roo bicycle would probably enable me to be able to ride this position again. Thus, it was serendipitous that I learned that I’d be receiving one in January 2019.
So, Bruce Wayne and I headed out on our first ride together. My first thought was, “WOW. This bike is FAST.” Seriously...I couldn’t believe how well it handled and how fast it felt with what felt like relatively minimal exertion on my end.
Let it be known that I am very firmly in the camp that you cannot buy your way out of doing the work. The “engine” (i.e. the athlete’s body) needs to be strong if any benefits are truly going to be gained from equipment upgrades. That being said, I have been building my cycling fitness for a decade, and I am a strong cyclist. So, the PRsix enhanced an already strong engine and made me a bit more economical with the same output/strength.
I ended up having to raise the cockpit of the bike a bit to accommodate the post-surgery hip angle that I need in the time trial position. While Quintana Roo does ship the PRsix with spacers and parts to raise the cockpit by about 20 mm, I needed 40 mm more, so I had to purchase an additional parts kit from Profile Design (the manufacturer of the cockpit).
I also ended up purchasing Profile Design’s Race Armrest Kit, which enabled my repaired left arm (which does still have a lot of hardware in it) to fully relax when I am in the time trial position. Additionally, I had a couple of issues with Quintana Roo’s proprietary Perfect Position Seatpost; it would not hold my saddle tilt position, even if it was brought to its stated torque specifications. I ended up fixing this with some plumber’s tape and a few pieces of a used bike tube to force it to hold the saddle in place.
After those few fit adjustments (I am a bike fitter myself, so I was able to do these on my own with a little video fitting assistance from Master Fitter Adam), I was ready to rock and roll (mostly roll) for the rest of the season on this magnificent machine.
I had two IRONMAN 70.3 races on the calendar for the 2019 racing season - IRONMAN 70.3 Coeur d’Alene and IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta. These would be the first 70.3-distance triathlons I had raced in over three years, and they would be my first races since having my arm repair surgery that altered my hip. I started training fairly exclusively on Bruce Wayne to get ready for the race-specific demand of sustaining that time trial position for extended periods of time (in my case, 3+ hours).
In June 2019, Bruce Wayne and I flew to the West Coast to race IRONMAN 70.3 Coeur d’Alene. For the most part, disableming the PRsix for travel was fairly easy. The only tricky part was the proprietary stem that Quintana Roo uses on the PRsix (the PRfive and lower models use a more traditional bike stem). This stem is time-intensive (relatively speaking, compared to other bikes) to disassemble and assemble with the correct torque specifications and leveling for the front cockpit. For this trip, Bruce Wayne traveled in my Thule RoundTrip Transition Bike Case, and he arrived safe and sound.
While I was out in Washington/Idaho, I explored the region a bit on two wheels. This included a trip up Mount Spokane. Strava classifies this climb as “HC”, which stands for hors catégorie. This is a French term used to describe climbs that are “beyond classification,” meaning the most difficult to climb.
Triathlon/time trial bikes, by design, are not meant to be climbing machines. However, this PRsix was able to handle the entirety of this climb without any issues, and the disc brakes came in very handy on the descent down Mount Spokane. I was delighted about this, and was looking forward to IRONMAN 70.3 Coeur d’Alene in two days’ time (as I knew that that course would be infinitely easier than this climb up Mount Spokane).
Bruce Wayne and I cruised through the rolling hills of IRONMAN 70.3 Coeur d’Alene. Despite having fatigued legs (from the aforementioned HC climb), I was able to achieve a relatively fast-for-me-with-my-fitness-level-at-the-time bike split. I will admit, the following thought crossed my mind, “If this is what I was able to do on fatigued legs with this bike, what could I have done if I actually had tapered properly for this race?” That being said, that was a momentary thought, and I left the West Coast with exactly zero regrets about how Bruce Wayne and I had passed our time out there.
In September, Bruce Wayne and I took to the skies again, this time to go race at IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta. For this trip, I packed Bruce Wayne in my EVOC Bike Travel Bag, which is a soft case. Once again, the bike traveled well, even if it did take me a little bit to disassemble/reassemble that proprietary stem.
Race day at IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta was HOT; temperatures were right at 100-102ºF when I came off of the bike. Being from New York State, these temperatures were extreme for me, so I had to keep my heart rate lower throughout the bike segment if I was going to be able to successfully run off of the bike. As a result, Bruce Wayne and I didn’t break any land speed records that day, but honestly, my bike split was quite fast given the conditions, and I partially attribute that to my training/conditioning prior to the race, but I honestly give a hefty amount of the credit to the design of the bike, which enabled me to get the most speed possible on the day.
Over the winter of 2019-2020, I rode Bruce Wayne exclusively on the trainer (I own a Wahoo Kickr), and felt that my bike fitness was on the rise.
In January 2020, Bruce Wayne and I traveled to Tampa, Florida for Team MPI’s Coaches’ Retreat. We ended up being “models” for Master Fitter Adam’s presentation on bike fitting, and Adam declared my fit to be a great one when he saw me in-person. He specifically mentioned how shocked (but pleased) he was that this was the case; my fit/ability to hold this position had honestly been quite horrible in December 2018 when he was trying to fit me to my Specialized Shiv.
The Quintana Roo PRsix had successfully enabled me to sustain a time trial position with my post-surgery body/limitations, just as he predicted he could, but even he (with 8,000+ career bike fits to his name) was shocked at how successfully it had enabled me to do that.
As we all know, triathlons really didn’t happen in 2020, and that was especially true for me since I live in New York State (our governor had really strict limitations on large group gatherings like that throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic). Despite not being able to race, Bruce Wayne became a key player for me in 2020 as well.
In May 2020, I developed bursitis in my left hip (which is the hip that I had had surgery on), which restricted my ability to run for over six months. I went through physical therapy, and then started riding Bruce Wayne as a way to develop strength in my hip with that more severe hip angle in play. Basically, the fit on Bruce Wayne more closely mirrors the hip angle that I would be using in running, but without the impact forces of running. So, if I could safely build fitness/endurance/strength riding Bruce Wayne, that would bode well for my safe return to running.
Over the last two seasons, my Quintana Roo PRsix has proven to be an invaluable part of my “bike stable.” It’s a speed machine whose high-degree of bike fit adjustability has helped me return to long course triathlon, even after my body was permanently altered as a result of an accident. It is a bike that was able to go along with me on any adventure I dreamed up, even if it wasn’t specifically designed for the task. It's a bike that gave me first-hand experience that has enabled me to give better advice to the athletes I work with if they were in the market for a new bike. And finally, it helped me successfully rehabilitate another injury and safely return to running.
I will always be grateful to QuintanaRoo and Team MPI for this amazing gift, and I am already looking forward to future seasons when triathlons return in full force so Bruce Wayne and I can continue to blaze a trail through race courses and have more adventures together.
Seasons of love, indeed.