Anyone have recommendations where to rent a decent bike for the NYC tri?
I thought I would just answer my own question for anyone who might search this forum for future NYC tris.
First, unlike most of my fellow triathletes, I'm not a type-A personality, and therefore waited until a week before the race to start calling bike shops. I googled "NYC bike rental" and called about 10 shops, but only one had bikes left to rent. That would be Bike-n-Roll, on one of the piers around West 43rd Street.
They mostly rents cruisers to tourists, but they also had a few Trek 1.5s, which is what I rented. The bike and tires were in great shape. The parts were low-end Shimano (Tiagra & Sora) and the wheels were Bontrager SSR. They added water bottle cages free of charge. When I picked it up, the mechanic helped me get the seat right and made several other adjustments to the brakes and gears to fit my taste. Really, they couldn't have been more helpful.
It wasn't the worst bike in the field, but it was definitely in the bottom 10 percent. Ultimately, it got the job done and didn't flat. Plus, pick up and drop off were a breeze, as it was only a five-minute or so ride to the transition area up and down the bike trail along the Hudson.
So, the lesson for all you fellow laggards is to get on this early if you want something more competitive. But if you find yourself in a pinch, as I did, this is a survivable solution.