Jordan Bryden is a professional triathlete from Canada who finished 3rd at Challenge Penticton in 2016 behind Jeff Symonds and Drew Scott, and thus earned a spot to compete in the ITU Long Course World Championships. The big targets however are Kona, Norseman, Swissman and Canadaman, and he speaks very passionately about Challenge Roth. He is also a gifted graphic designer and passionate photographer.
Slowtwitch: Jordan thank you so much for your time.
Jordan Bryden: Thanks Herbert. Always nice to catch up with you and the Slowtwitch community.
ST: What event are you getting ready for as we speak?
Jordan: I will focus on racing in the second half of the season. I can’t take my eye off competing in Roth again possibly doing my first full IM of the year there this season. A latter half focused race season would be the pathway to kick start an attempt at the 2018 Kona points race- with this in mind I have great opportunity to support Challenge and independent races earlier on in 2017.
ST: What about Roth captured you?
Jordan: If you are reading this and you ever have the opportunity to race Roth - don’t hesitate! It’s the pinnacle of the sport in my opinion. It’s a very emotionally charged event. There is a level of pride that the organizers take in their work that I don’t think I have ever seen before. The culture and community connection is very important to everyone involved. The volunteers are unbelievable and the course and spectators are the best I have ever encountered. I come from Calgary the home of the Calgary Stampede- and feel that everyone gets behind it in the same way.
ST: So what is the big A event this year?
Jordan: Right now I plan to put a big focus on ITU World Long Course Championships. This year it takes place in Penticton - which I consider to be a home course. I grew up watching IM Canada, and love everything about the spirit and community that is in the Okanagan. Jeff Symonds and I both ended up on the podium at Challenge Penticton last year to earn our spots on the Canadian Team.
ST: Who sets up the race calendar and the goals? The coach or you. or you two together?
Jordan: I will continue as a member of the Trisutto team in 2017, but right now am training on my own in Calgary focusing a bit more on getting my finances organized.
We like to focus on training specific goals and try to stay process orientated. The race calendar is as dependent on finances as it is fitness, so I will talk through the process with my coach. Last year I was supporting Nicola Spirig in the run up to the Olympics, so my personal season started after that. A few factors come into play when choosing races. Firstly the cost to travel and after that we look at the real purpose to race. Sometimes it’s to express fitness and have a goal, and other times to work on building an individual strategy. Not forgetting to evaluate if the course will suit me in the first place! Being 6ft5 I tend to lean towards rolling courses on the bike.
ST: Looking back at 2016 was there a performance that you were especially happy with?
Jordan: Jumping into Challenge Roth was a late decision. I knew I was fit after several months in St. Moritz and couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience the legendary course. It was an epic day to race- as you likely saw with Daniela Ryf performance and Jan Frodeno’s world record. I found myself 3rd out of the water, rode more aggressive than I usually do - and proceeded to hang on for a good 35 km of the run. I lost a few spots in the last two miles to stay under 8h 30. The confidence I gained from Roth set me up for a strong race in Challenge Penticton at the ITU LD distance of 3k/120k/30k.
ST: Do you have any events on the bucket list?
Jordan: Yes! Of course I want to race Kona as a pro in my career, but I am also extremely drawn to Norseman, Swissman, the new Canadaman and pure grit races. Ultraman Canada and Ultraman World Champs are also on the list. I have a bit of a bigger engine- and love longer days.
ST: You started in this sport very young at age 9. As a Canadian should you not have focused on hockey then?
Jordan: Haha! Hockey runs in the blood of Canadians but I never really appreciated team sports. Instead I asked my parents to be in a swim club and then a track club. Those teams were everything to me as a kid and I loved the thrill of competing. My dad taught me about the mountains instead. I feel more at home on the trails than anywhere else.
ST: At 6’5” you are quite tall. Were you also on the tall side as a kid or did that come in later?
Jordan: Yes. It was the only way I could get other kids to look up to me (bad joke).
ST: Have you ever had issues with bike fitting?
Jordan: I’ve worked with a great sport lab here in Calgary by the name of TCR Sport Lab for a number of years. We make small changes to position a couple times of year- Basically letting the body adjust and then get a little bit more aero. In addition to fitting, this year we look at differences in respiration/ oxygen saturation. As someone who was born with asthma I feel this is often overlooked. Its great to be aero but what happens when you cant breath?
ST: How are you addressing the asthma issue and how much does it impact you?
Jordan: As an ITU athlete I struggled! It took my breath away more than a song by Berlin. However it became more manageable when I switched to Iron distance racing. I also really noticed a huge improvement when I cut dairy out of my diet.
ST: Are you bike geek, or not so much?
Jordan: I keep up to date with everything- but am not the geek I used to be. This is mostly because I stopped caring about the “hype” and instead have focused on what works for me. For example I used to ride a custom build TT bike, but have had nothing but positive results since switching to the stock Ventum One. However, the inner bike nerd in me is pretty excited about teaming up with FSA(Vision) this year and decking out the Ventum.
ST: Of the 3 sports in triathlon which one suits you the best?
Jordan: I grew up a swimmer in the 400 IM m (4:34) and 1500m (17:00). However, I struggled with the swim in most of the World Cup and WTS races I did. It wasn’t until I started going to camp with Sutton that I finally became comfortable in the open water. Last year I trained the swim strong so I could relax and use it at a warm up in the IM distance. I’ll race the pace a bit if it’s a ½ distance. Personally I love the run though!
ST: Talk about your graphic design job.
Jordan: I work as the lead graphic designer for Tribe Solutions. Since we are the ITU’s official merchandise partner (among other things) I designed the the ITU’s World Triathlon line. I design the apparel merchandise for many of the ITU's worldwide line up, including ITU Cozumel Grande Finale plus several WTS events like Montreal/Edmonton/Tokyo, the upcoming inaugural World Multisport Champs, Ironman 70.3 Bintan and the IM Talk podcasts gear to list a few. We have some exciting projects in the works like the 2017 ITU Rotterdam Grand Finale. We have a ton of new clients for this year including Triathlon Ireland and Metasport (who have a collection of races in S.E Asia). I also freelance for many teams, brands, products and pros.
ST: When you look at graphics be it on one race suit or a bike or anywhere else do you instantly judge them or are you too busy for that?
Jordan: Haha. Not really. But I have seen some pro kits that really could represent their sponsors better! If there is any one reading this who could use some help, drop me a line!
ST: You also like to take photos. When did that start?
Jordan: Photography came from my dad as well. He had a full darkroom set up in our basement growing up. Paul Phillips, Rich Cruse, and Delly Carr have all offered me advice and mentorship. I can see myself pursuing that profession more seriously after I am finished racing as a pro. In the mean time I never leave the house without a camera and shoot something everyday. I find that the creative aspect keeps me sharp for when I am designing. Instagram became my social media of choice obviously!
ST: Which photographer do you look up to the most?
Jordan: Those three guys are my favorite because they truly understand the sport. Between the three of those legends they all have contributed to the sport in different way. Rich shot the Ironwar in 1989! Paul has an artistic element that is a direct reflection of his beaming personality. Delly is fearless in his approach and gets new shots by thinking different. Shout out also to Tommy Zaferes who in 5 years will probably be on the same level if he keeps with it. As an athlete you can predict moments with a good amount of precision.
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Jordan: One of my goals for 2017 is to expand upon what comes natural to me, I want to use my multi media experience to tell and share stories around the sport of triathlon. I’ve just shot some pilot video blogs that have been very well received, I feel that this quickly growing medium is a great way for me to connect and share my unusual life. All of these projects would help support current and future income.