James and Jodie Cunnama - Bike Check

We caught up with long-distance triathlon super-couple James and Jodie Cunnama to talk about their fully tricked-out race bikes.

James: I’ve been on Cervélos now for eight years, and the P5x is the biggest upgrade in that time. The best bit is the packing, it’s amazing. I can rebuild the bike in seven minutes at a race or when I get home. I still have the hangover from travelling with the P5, when sometimes the bike would stay in its case for a couple of days after I got home from a race. Occasionally I catch myself thinking the same and then I remember how easy it is to rebuild the P5x. The way the handlebar splits and drops into its holster bag is so clever.

Jodie: I got my P5x a week before the World Championships last year. I feel a bit conspicuous riding it in South Africa – you stop at the lights and there’s people selling fruit and they ask how much your bike costs… It feels a bit different to the old P5 but I could get my exact position on it.

James: I’m the same, I can very happily ride six hours on it. Positioning is a bit chicken and egg – am I comfortable in my position because I ride in it for 20 hours a week, or can I ride it for 20 hours a week because my position is good? You have to work on it to be aero but also spend time on the bike to get used to it. In the season when we’re travelling around this is the only bike I have with me so I use it for all my training. It works hard but I look after it.

“Generally, I stick with the ENVE SES 7.8s – they’re the most versatile and rideable wheels I’ve ever used”

Wheels and Tires
James: Generally, I stick with the ENVE SES 7.8s – they’re the most versatile and rideable wheels I’ve ever used. The courses tend to have long, fast sections, where the 7.8s are super-fast, and then often some technical sections and climbing, which they also handle really well. I might run a shallower front, a 3.4 or 4.5, but only if it’s a really gnarly day. In training, I tend to use the 3.4 Disc; I find it a bit smoother and it’s super stable.

Jodie: It changes for each race. I use the 7.8 set as well but in the massive crosswinds at Kona I preferred the shallower 4.5 front with the 7.8 rear. Especially as a smaller rider, it’s better to be stable than sorry! I prefer to train on the 2.2.

James: It’s great that the 7.8s let us run tubeless Schwalbe Pro One tires, too. Tubeless was a new thing for this year and it took a bit of learning with setting them up but they really are the best solution for Ironman. You have the low rolling resistance, more comfort because you can run lower pressures, and the puncture protection, too. A puncture can cost you the race so not having to worry about tiny nicks and bits of glass is a big help.

“I find the disc brakes revolutionary. I don’t know why it took so long for them to arrive in triathlon”

Disc Brakes
Jodie: I love them. I had a brake-related crash on an old bike when the alloy rim overheated the tube and caused a blowout. It’s relevant even to tri and TT, especially in Europe on smaller roads. The weight isn’t an issue. I think they’re a good step and we’ll see them integrated into more bikes soon.

James: I find the disc brakes revolutionary. I don’t know why it took so long for them to arrive in triathlon. In St Moritz, where we train a lot, the confidence, power and modulation are fantastic. It also eliminates brake rub on steep sections. I think in five years all bikes will run discs, including in triathlon. Some triathletes question why you need good brakes because we don’t use them as often but when you need them you need the best.

Saddle Choice
Jodie: I use an ISM Adamo. It’s a long-time favorite of mine and it made a massive difference to my comfort level once I’d adapted to it.

James: Mine is a Cobb Plus. I was sponsored by them up to last year but I still ride it because it works for me and I don’t plan to change it.

James: The P5x has the space to carry all the nutrition and tools I need in a race. I have an X-Lab Torpedo hydration system between my arms and I can top that up on course. My frame bottle has a concentrated mix of gels which provides most of my nutrition. I have an extra cage behind my seat which I tend to use more in really hot races.

Jodie: In Ironman events you see bikes with gels and things stuck everywhere. You hit your knees on them and it gets really annoying over the course of four hours. It’s great to have everything out of the way and out of the wind. In the lower compartment I race with a canister of Vittoria Pitstop in case I get a puncture that the tire sealant can’t fix, plus an Allen wrench.

James: We both use CeramicSpeed Over Size Pulley Wheels and we fit new UFO chains just before races. They need one ride to break in and then they give you super-low friction for 300km. After that they lose their advantage and become like a normal chain so they’re still good to use for training until the next race. The P5x comes with CeramicSpeed bottom bracket bearings as standard, so it’s a really smooth set-up.

What’s Next
Jodie: I’m trying to write an autobiography at the same time as being pregnant as it seemed like a good opportunity. There will be no chance once the baby arrives! I’m still doing a couple of sessions a day but can’t ride outside any longer.

James: Ironman Frankfurt went well, went to plan, and I got the qualification for Kona. With my coach, we decided to do Ironman Hamburg as a test and that was good, too . Kona is more of a free swing for me this year. Really, I’m building to Kona 2018. I know I need a 2.40 run, or faster, but after running 2.40 in Hamburg I think I can go for a good result. And, to be honest, I feel even happier with the bike leg – the run is coming together because the bike is better. We’ve worked out a few things that have been holding me back and it’s looking good. There’s a sense of excitement in my training at the moment.