Hot wheels - Hooked on a feeling
A speed demon and an artwork are terms Megan Arthur uses to describe "the Shiv", her new racing bike.
The Specialized Shiv TT is not just any old push bike - it's a lesson in aerodynamics designed to win races; perfect for a triathlete like Megan.
The Specialized brand's website describes it as being "ridden by highly competitive athletes looking for the most efficient power transfer, most aggressive position, and least drag".
The bike, worth more than a mid-range car, is designed for the time trial cyclist, hence the TT.
"In age group triathlon, we're not allowed to draft - that's riding in big bunches," Megan explains, "so you need something else to reduce the aerodynamic drag."
One of the differences between a time trial bicycle and a road bike are the triathlon handlebars - aerobars - with their low tucked position providing both aerodynamics and stability.
Never mind special features, the Shiv is "all special", according to Megan, 38, who lives in Hamilton. This includes a frame optimised for crosswinds and a bladder hydration system that allows her to drink from a straw whenever she needs a sip. A magnet holds the straw in place the rest of the time.
Megan, a cost analyst at Fonterra, enjoyed cycling, running and swimming at school and decided to do a duathlon six years ago because she "thought it would be fun". She had to borrow her dad's bicycle.
"All I had was a pair of running shoes. I thought, doing a duathlon could be fun. I remember it was a horrible, foggy, freezing cold Waikato winter's day. I came third in my age group and from then on I was hooked."
As soon as she got on her new bike and rode it, "it was just something else. I feel very comfortable and can ride really fast. It's geometry, the way it feels - it's just so smooth. It's designed to just move through the wind so nicely. Sometimes you don't even realise that you have a headwind."
Megan has done three ITU World Championship races and was ninth in her age group at the 2010 world championships in Germany. Her best New Zealand performance was third in the Port of Tauranga Half Ironman and the New Zealand Long Distance Tri Champs, and a first age-group placing in this year's Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cycling Time Trial Champs.
She hopes to improve her performance with the Shiv at next year's ironman. Building up to the event, she is often on her bike for six hours at a time.
"If you're doing six hours a time, this is the kind of bike you want to be on."