The Hipster Triathlete

After a lengthy discussion with the group on the commercial impact of the Ironman brand, I began to think of a hipster triathlete persona who is unlike a typical Ironman obsessed age grouper.

The definition of hipster from urban dictionary: a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie rock, creativity, intelligence and witty banter.

So let’s take the first 2 characteristics: independent thinking and counter-culture, and apply them to triathletes. What would it be like to be a triathlete who challenges the norm, shun mainstream triathlete conventions and dares to be different?

Let’s meet Joe, the hipster triathlete persona, and learn 3 things about this hipster triathlete: Joe’s biography, the races he participates and of course his gear.

Photo credit:

Joe, the Hipster Triathlete

Who is Joe?

Joe is a young man in his late 20’s, with some experience in triathlons of varying distances. He has finished numerous Olympic Distance triathlons, a handful of 70.3 distance races and has just completed his first Ironman. Being a hipster, Joe looks forward to opportunity to set himself apart from his peers, including in his triathlon pursuits. Now let’s take a look on Joe’s typical race day.

Where does Joe race?

Being a hipster, the world class Ironman or Challenge events don’t fit well with Joe’s taste. He prefers a race more indie, with less association to established franchises. His triathlon of choice is none other than the Wildflower Triathlon, the Woodstock of Triathlon.

Wildflower Triathlon

Wildflower Triathlon – Photo from

For shorter distance races, Joe makes his way to Lobsterman Triathlon, for the famed lobster bake post race meal.

Lobsterman Triathlon

Lobsterman Triathlon – Photo by Boston Triathlon

What gear does he use?

The first thing a triathlete needs is a tri suit, for the convenience of wearing a single piece of clothing in all three legs of a triathlon. For Joe, he prefers to go even simpler. Padded shorts get in the way of Joe’s run and tri singlets are too tight for his liking. So Joe’s outfit of the day: a SPEEDO and a SINGLET.

Speedo Brief

Speedo Brief

How about goggles? Joe is well adapted to water and doesn’t mind water going into his eyes. NO GOGGLES needed. For timekeeping purpose, Joe doesn’t need the fanciful GPS and heart rate monitor functions of a Garmin Forerunner 910XT. Instead, he uses a trustworthy classic CASIO F-91W.

Casio F91W

Casio F91W

Coming out of the water, Joe goes into T1. His minimalist speedo dried quickly. He puts on his shoes, a pair of ONITSUKA TIGER ULTIMATE 81 running sneakers. No cleats, because cleats are too cumbersome and they go against Joe’s principle of keeping things simple.

Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81

Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81

Joe quickly straps on his helmet, a MELON URBAN ACTIVE HELMET. In Joe’s opinion, the smooth surface gives him comparable aero advantage to aero road helmets such as the Giro Air Attack.

Melon Urban Active Helmet

Melon Urban Active Helmet

For eyewear, Joe ditches the ubiquitous Oakley Radar for the classy RAY-BAN WAYFARER sunglasses which provides his eyes plenty of protection, during and after a race.

Ray-Ban Wayfarer

Ray-Ban Wayfarer

All geared up, Joe is now ready to set off for his bike leg. His hipster lifestyle calls for a bike more organic than the fastest carbon bikes such as the Cervelo P5-Six, so Joe opts for none other than the BAMBOO ROAD BIKE by Calfee Design.

Midway through the bike ride, Joe needs to replenish his fuel tank. His nutrition of choice is a simple bottled iced espresso for caffeine and scones with jams for some carbs.

Finally, entering T2, Joe only needs to take off his Melon helmet and replace it with, not a Headsweats visor, but a HABANA PANAMA FEDORA to cover his head on his way to the finish line.

Habana Panama Fedora

Habana Panama Fedora

Basking in his finish line glory, Joe needs to capture the moment with his finisher medal and t-shirt. Instead of a GoPro Hero 3, Joe’s chosen lens is the KONSTRUKTOR 35MM DIY SLR.

Konstruktor 35mm DIY SLR

Konstruktor 35mm DIY SLR

After a long day of swimming, cyling and running, Joe takes a few gulps of CHOCOLATE MILK to aid in recovery.

Recovery Chocolate Milk

Recovery Chocolate Milk

Joe now looks forward to his next hipster triathlon race.


Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya 2014 Race Report

If there is one word to summarize this race, it’s HOT! SCORCHING, SEARING and BLISTERING HOT!! Most of the participants struggled with the heat during the bike and run legs, resulting in slower finish times. I signed up for Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya quite late, in February to be exact. It was a replacement race to Challenge Philippines which I could not go. Signing up for this race meant that I would be joining Justin and Jason again on another quest for a 70.3 finisher medal.



The drive to Putrajaya was my first time driving to Malaysia at night. I left Singapore at 3am, entered Malaysia at about 4am and was greeted with speeding demons going at 150 km/h on the highway. After getting used to the high speed traffic, the drive went into steady drive with rest stops every 2 rest areas. I reached in time for breakfast at the Pullman hotel.


The key activities for Saturday were a swim practice in the morning, followed by race registration and bike check in. Swim practice was well organized, with safety kayaks marking the 500m route. I had my first taste, literally, of the brownish fresh water. It felt a little disgusting at first, but I put it behind me and just focused on the swim.


Bike check-in was routine, the only highlight being an unknown “Team Crowie” bike parked at the #1 rack. We were left wondering why would Crowie be riding a non-Specialized road bike and non-Shimano wheels. Only the next day we would learn he’s only taking part in the swim leg of the relay race.



Participants were grouped into age group waves to start the swim. It was a deep water start where we need to jump off a pontoon into the canal and swim a short 15-20 m to the start line. The water was relatively calm with a slight current along the longest portion of the swim. The wave start proved to be beneficial, spreading out the 1600 or so participants. This was probably the first race where I didn’t get kicked in the stomach, clawed over, or slapped on my face. The swim was a rectangular one loop route. After the first few minutes of getting into rhythm, I started pacing myself and managed to keep my direction easily by sighting every 10 strokes. The only problem I had was that I sighted the wrong buoy after the first U-turn, which probably resulted in additional 100 m of swim. Overall, I still managed to clock 55 mins for 1.9 km, all in freestyle.

The bike leg was made up of two 45km loops around the highway circling Putrajaya and the surrounding suburbs. The initial part within the small island where the race venue is located was pretty flat. Beyond that, the highway was a series of long gentle slope followed by long downslope, perfect for aero position. The uphill climbs proved to be more difficult than they looked. Despite the gentle gradient, the distance of each climb was enough to tire even the strongest riders. One memorable climb had little cards with words of encouragement placed along the sidewalk. The first loop went well for me, averaging 30 km/h. By the second loop, the sun was out in full force heating the tarmac and I began to suffer. The pain reached a climax at one of the major climbs around 70km mark where I had to stop for 10-15 minutes due to cramps in my entire left leg. After that, the race went downhill for me, figuratively, as I did not dare to push myself any harder, fearing more serious cramps and possibility of DNF. The bike leg was completed in 3 hours 37 mins.

On the run, I was too drained by the heat. I could only muster a couple hundred metres of run before my legs began cramping, so I resorted to mostly walking, running only whenever I can and struggled to maintain 10 mins/km. The run turned to be a socialising opportunity, giving me the opportunity to chat with other struggling participants. Luckily, the sun went into hiding during the second loop, making the run more bearable. t this point, Jason caught up to me and we run/walked together for a few kms before I had to take toilet break and he went on his way. After that, I found another Malaysian buddy to suffer with, and we shared our stories throughout the last few kilometres. A 3 hours 28 mins half marathon ended the 8 hours 10 mins long torture.


It was not a very good timing, but I was happy to have finished the race, since I did consider not starting the run after the major cramp. It was a well organised race by Ironman Asia Pacific. The only regret I had was missing the opportunity to take photo with Crowie.


Foldio – My First Kickstarter Backing

One of the dilemmas I face when taking photos is deciding whether to use my smart phone to quickly snap a photo or taking out my DSLR set up. When I want photos quickly, such as taking photos of products I wish to sell online, a smartphone camera gives me quick result, ready to be posted online. The downside to this is the poor lighting on the product, making it less appealing to potential customers.

Foldio seeks to solve this problem by providing a mobile studio set up tailored for smart phone cameras. The Kickstarter project was started some time last year and when I came across it, it didn’t take me long to decide to back this project. On Kickstarter, visitors could choose to donate any amount of money to help the guys behind the project take their idea into reality. Higher amounts of donation entitle backers to some rewards, including a Foldio mailed to their homes. I decided on the full Foldio package with a few background sheets. The backing process was quite seamless, but at times filled with some uncertainty whether the project is progressing. Nevertheless, the Foldio team regularly posts updates on the project and how close they are to delivering the final products.

To cut the story short, a few days ago I received a notice to collect my Foldio delivery from the post office. So after collecting it today, I quickly unwrapped it to find my own Foldio set, complete with colorful background sheets.

Foldio - in folded state

Foldio – in folded state

Colourful background sheets

Colourful background sheets

Foldio is made of a piece of flexible plastic, with magnets attached at specific spots to hold its structure when it’s folded into shape.

Foldio - fully assembled

Foldio – fully assembled

The job to light up the mini studio is done by a strip of LED lights powered by a single 9V battery. The numerous white LEDs along the strip did well in providing even lighting across.

LED lights

LED lights

Here are some test shots of a Munchkin bobblehead and a toy car using Foldio. Both shots had the LED strip turned on. The only difference is that the second shot was taken with the iPhone flash turned on.

Test shot without iPhone flash

Test shot without iPhone flash

Test shot with iPhone flash

Test shot with iPhone flash

As you can see, the LED lights are positioned above the object nearest to the phone. The high lighting creates shadows in some parts of the Munchkin and soft fill light is needed to lighten up the shadows. The iPhone flash is way too strong, creating harsh shadow behind the objects. Perhaps I should consider placing another LED strip at the bottom of the box for fill, and maybe rig up a simple voltage divider to control the brightness.