The founder of a performance bicycle company in Des Moines raced one of his company's bikes to a record-setting first-place triathlon finish in the Subaru Ironman North American Championship held Sunday in Mont Tremblant, Quebec.
T.J. Tollakson, a professional triathlete and founder of Ruster Sports LLC, not only won the triathlon's pro division but also set a new overall course record, beating the previous record by 10 minutes. The highly aerodynamic Dimond bike manufactured by his company enabled him to finish the 112-mile bicycle portion of the race in four hours and 26 minutes, nine minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.
"For the bike leg, T.J. averaged over 25 mph on a really hilly course," said David Morse, Ruster Sports' director of engineering. Tollakson had trained in a wind tunnel to find the optimal riding positions on the bike, which is made without a seat post or seat stays for better aerodynamic performance. He was the only competitor using a Dimond bike.
The win qualifies Tollakson to compete in October in the IronMan World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Morse said between 15 and 20 competitors will be riding Dimond bikes in that event.
"This is the kind of press we were really hoping for," Morse said. "It's one of the advantages of having our founder as a sponsored athlete. In fact, we've gotten a couple of emails from prospective customers just since yesterday."
In October 2013, the company received a $75,000 economic development loanfrom the state to help fund advanced testing of the bike's design.
Since January, Ruster Sports has produced more than 100 Dimond bikes and should reach its goal of manufacturing 200 units by the end of the year, Morse said. "We're able to meet the sales demand, and we're looking to build sales demand from this championship," he said.
Located in a converted warehouse at 600 S.W. Seventh St., the business currently employs seven people.