During a conversation at a conference on CFD (computational fluid dynamics), Ivan Sidorovich heard a quote that stuck with him. “The best part of your job is that you actually get to use your product,” Ivan was told. As the first full time aerodynamicist in the cycling industry, Ivan had to agree.
Ivan had just finished a presentation when he was having the conversation with a fellow engineer. “We spoke for a while and he really knew what he was talking about. It turns out that he was an engineer for an F1 team,” Sidorovich recounts. “So obviously, they don’t all get to drive around in the F1 car. That is when I realized that I really am lucky. I do get to ride the bikes I help design.” Since Ivan’s biggest project at Cervélo so far was the P5, it is only natural that he started thinking triathlon.
“I started swimming when I was 6 or 7 years old,” recalls Ivan. He continued to be competitive in swimming until around the time his family moved to Canada from Argentina. Then 18, Ivan only competed for another year before turning his focus to education. “So I wasn’t worried about the swim part. But I was never a very good runner.”
Ivan started cycling regularly when he started with Cervélo more than 4 years ago. Prior to working here, his interest in cycling was primarily in the potential for aerodynamic advancement of design. Even after he started riding, the thought of actually competing or entering an event was never on Ivan’s mind.
“I thought it would be cool to see what the sport is all about,” Ivan says after having the opportunity to meet a large group of Cervélo retailers. Ivan was attending BrainBike, the Cervélo retailer education event where our authorized bike shops get to learn about the technology and development of Cervélo bikes first-hand. “Seeing how passionate our retailers are made me realize that the sport of triathlon can really have a huge impact on your life. Still, being a father, I didn’t think racing would be something I would ever do.”
Then things started to change. In 2012, Ivan was a part of the Cervélo team that attended Kona. “I went there to help out with the Cervélo presence, to gather some data and market research. We went to record how people actually use their bikes and build a database for how triathletes set them up,” Ivan explains. “But, once I got there and started talking to the athletes, I knew that understanding the culture is equally important.”
Already having a feel for what a truly competitive environment was like from his earlier swimming days, Ivan noticed that the people he met “were very serious. It felt very real. The athletes, in general, were intelligent and receptive. Triathletes are smart people. If you sell them a bad product, they won’t buy it. It is different than other sports.”
Once he returned to Toronto, Ivan explains that “I knew I had to give it a try, I am taking it a little more seriously. It is one thing to understand how our bikes are used, but this is something bigger.” He registered for the sprint distance at the Toronto Tri Fest and recently had his first crack at racing.
“It was a logistical nightmare,” Ivan recalls of his first race experience. “I didn’t know how to prepare a race bag for transition and totally underestimated the amount of preparation I had to do.” Once Ivan hit the water for the start, he got the biggest shock of the day. “I was one of the only people without a wetsuit and the water was below 18 degrees. I jumped in the water and thought, ‘I can’t do this’.”
Ivan fought through the urge to get out. “I thought, I made it this far, I have to do the race. I think I lost about 3 minutes not being able to breathe properly in the cold at first.” Once he was accustomed to the temperature, he started to find a rhythm. That is, until he encountered the next challenge.
“My transitions were horrible,” explains Ivan. “It was my first time ever doing transitions. Do you walk, do you run? Where do I go? It is a learning experience.” Otherwise, Ivan was quite happy with his performance. “I finished in a time close to what I was targetting, so I am happy with that. The last 2kms were hard, you start pushing yourself but you’re pretty tired at that point. It was tough mentally. I think it went well.”
Ivan already has plans for the future. With two more sprint distance races on his schedule this year, he is looking forward to using the lessons he learned in the first attempt. “Getting a wetsuit is one,” Ivan laughs. “And don’t underestimate the preparation needed, I have to practise transitions. Overall it was pretty demanding, but I already have a lot of ideas on how to improve my next race - and our next tri bike as well.”