Butterfield's balancing act pays off big in the desert
We were thrilled to see new Zipp® athlete Nikki Butterfield take an impressive victory at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. Soon after the race we peppered her with questions about her wheel selection, comeback and how she balances racing and family:
Zipp: What determined the front wheel choice for this bike-centric course? (Abu Dhabi has a 3 km swim, 200 km bike, 20 km run)
Nikki: I brought with me a 404 Firecrest® and 808 Firecrest front, and an 808 Firecrest and Super-9 disc. I was planning on using the 808 Firecrest/Super-9 unless it was ridiculously windy…. It would have had to been really bad to choose the 404 Firecrest over the 808 Firecrest. A few months before the race I asked Mark Cote (aerodynamicist with Specialized®) about which wheel combinations were the fastest on the new Shiv.
Specialized passed my email on to (pro triathlete and bike-tech guru) Jordan Rapp to ask someone’s opinion who had raced there, too. He advised me that I would be fine to handle the 808 Firecrest front in the conditions there and, as we all know, the Super-9 disc is really fast so it wasn't a hard decision for me.
Zipp: How did the bike feel? How did the wheels feel throughout the cycling leg?
Nikki: When I first started racing triathlon again I said from the start I want the best equipment, even if I have to buy it. I've been racing for so long I don't want to waste even a second of “free time,” and on cycling teams you just have to use what they give you. I decided when I was still pregnant I wanted to ride Specialized bikes and Zipp wheels. I guess that’s the long answer to your question -- the Specialized®/Zipp combination feels really fast for everything: in a straight line, in and out of corners, over climbs, in descents. I don't think I’ll ever ride anything else.
Zipp: You’ve been on the Zipp VukaAero integrated bar for a few months now. what are the things you like about them & how did this translate for you in the race?
Nikki: Fast, light and comfortable. What more could you want?
Zipp: You came into long-course triathlon last year with a strong road racing and short-course racing background, plus not so long after starting a family! 2011 proved to be a great season for you, and it looks as if it’s allowed you to focus and set you up for this race. Can you talk about what achieving the victory at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon means to you?
Nikki: Of course there is a lot more interest in me in terms of media and sponsorship, but I guess the most important thing from my perspective is it justifies everything we’ve been doing for the last year. Tyler and I have set-up our lives around spending as much time with Savana as possible while trying to be the best athletes we can be. We don’t do much other than train, race, and hang out with Sav.
All our friends and family I'm sure would tell you we’re quite boring and antisocial! It's not that we don't want to do those things, it's just that to train at the level we need to, to give Savana the attention we want to give her, and to have our house in some type of order, there isn't much time left in the day. Performances like this reinforce we are doing the right thing.
Follow Nikki on Twitter @NikButterfield
Photo credit: Jay Prasuhn